Japin' round the world: Angkor...what?

Now based in Siem Reap, I have been able to enjoy Cambodian life outside of the city. Being here has also given me some time to see the Temples of Angkor, which are the reason for Siam Reap's significance on the Cambodian map.

I only ended up spending a day seeing the temples, and in retrospect I think this was enough, as there is the option of getting a one, three or seven day pass to the temples. This was enough time as firstly, it was very hot and it caused me to sweat like Richard Nixon, and secondly it involves more physical activity than you would first imagine; some of the temple stairs are like climbing up a vertical rock face, and I was unwisely wearing flip flops which made the task quite interesting. Another issue is there is only so much time you can really look at temple for. There are so many dotted around the place that once you've seen a few you feel like you've seen them all. Sure if you know a lot about the temples and are really interested in ancient history or archeology then you'll love it. But for a TV and internet obsessed journalism graduate, it's not really a week long excursion kind of job.

The temples are impressive though. Some are absolutely massive, and are made of stones that originated from over fifty kilometers away is quite awe inspiring. In many cases the temples have crumbled a bit, but in some ways this adds to their ancient charm. Other look as if they've been restored with completely new stone, and it makes you wonder to what extent is this a reconstruction or the real article. Also each temple is - unsurprisingly - crawling with locals trying to sell you things and here they are much more tenacious than the average souvenir selling pest you meet in the South East Asian region.

These sellers are much more used to tourists saying no so are more persistent, or attempt to use subtle persuasion to make you buy from them, or start telling you information about the temples you didn't ask for and attempt to get a dollar off you after. Still it's quite easy to see them coming and in which case you can tell them to go away. In a way it's a pain as you sometimes can't just stand and take in the sights, as you suddenly hear someone shouting from a few meters away, "Sir! You buy t-shirt" etc. Still having grown used to this style of selling I can't say I wasn't expecting it.

Of the temples to see I'd have to say I enjoyed Ta Prohm the most. It's a walled temple, which is a little further from the main road connecting the temples than others. For this reason you get less souvenir sellers around, and it's quite peaceful, except for the general jungle noises around, which makes it feel more ancient temple-like. In it you also see it's been restored to a lesser extent, so it feels like it's still lost, and you've just happened across it for the first time in years. Albeit with several hundred other tourists. Either way I can see why it's been used as a location for some films (sadly one of them was Tomb Raider, but as it was such an impressive temple it can be forgiven).

Finally to end the day I went back to watch the sun set over Angkor. For this I went to a temple which was up a hill, and gave a spectacular view over the forest land around the area. All in all it was a brilliant experience, but a tiring one. I'm generally feeling quite tired of moving about all over the place and with two weeks yet before I get to Australia I might find somewhere quiet in Thailand to relax for a bit before the Australian leg of my journey.


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