Siem Reap: Last thoughts

As Lisa has said below, a lot of our time in Siem Reap has been spent in the Angkor National Park. This complex was build in the 12th century but was slowly lost to the jungle over the centuries and was only rediscovered by the French in the 19th century. More recently it has been under constant restoration – at least the more main temples like Angkor Wat. There are countless smaller temples, some of which have been left as they were found and are nicer to explore as they aren’t full of tourists.

The main/most famous temple is the Angkor Wat. This is a huge complex and the tallest tower is over 60m tall. No building in Siem Reap is allowed to be taller – similar to the area around the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh. The scale is immense, there is a huge moat and outer walls and the main inner temple. Other large temples we visited were Bayon, Baphoun and Ta Prohm. Ta Prohm is unique and very cool as it has been left with the jungle close around it and huge trees growing on and through the stone walls. Ta Prohm was apparently used for the filimg of some scenes of the Tomb Raider movie, but I didn’t know that until now as I have not seen the movie or played those video games.

The next day we went back by ourselves and explored some of the smaller temples, many of which don’t seem to have names, some of them were quite hidden and had no other tourists and were also in the shade of the jungle which was nice as shade does not seem to be much of a thing in a lot of Cambodia and when it’s well over 30 degrees is very welcome. The sun here is so much more intense than at home.

We have otherwise just wandered round a bit, but mostly in the early morning or evenings because of the aforementioned heat. Personally I am getting a bit over things as Cambodia is not as different from Vietnam as I’d hoped, plus getting as sick as we did has been a bit of a downer for me. I expected to get a bit sick given you are playing a bit of roulette with some of the food here, but I have never had food poisoning like that!. We both spent pretty much 24 hours in bed with a fever and full on muscle aches on top of the usual gastric distress and slept a fair amount of the day – and I can never usually sleep during the day. I’m also getting pretty sick of being seen as just a wallet by the locals, I sympathise with their situation to some degree but it means you can never have any real meaningful interaction, every single conversation is a sales pitch and I struggle to hold my tongue when every 5 seconds you have someone shouting “TUK TUK? WHERE YOU GOING?” as you walk down the street even when you firmly shake your head or straight up ignore them. We’ve had a couple of Tuk Tuk drivers try and scam us too – one after taking a ride said his quoted price was per person – stuff like that. He gave up pretty quick when he realised we weren’t going to back down though – they get away with it because I think a lot of people don’t want the confrontation and give in.

We otherwise had a good night last night at the circus though – we arrived early to get great seats and the money goes to a good cause – all the performers come from bad backgrounds and the circus exists to help people escape poverty and give them a career. The performance was refreshingly simple compared to some big international circuses and had excellent live music.

Tonight we are flying to Bangkok where we are based for 6 days. We don’t have any travel to other areas booked but may try to take some day trips to other areas close to Bangkok. With the size of Bangkok we may have enough to keep us occupied without having to go far though.