Thinking & Feeling

“The world is a tragedy to those who feel, but a comedy to those who think.” Horace Walpole

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Our Holiday Part 6 - Angkor Splendour!

So finally time to finish the posts about our April/May SE Asia Holiday.

Part 5 was in Chiang Mai.

So for the last part of our amazing adventure holiday we left Chaing Mai and flew off to Siem Reap in Cambodia, via Bangkok. Siem Reap is the closest town to the Unesco World Heritage Site of  Angkor Wat, the Khmer Temple complex, and where Tomb Raider movie was filmed. This was a bucket-list destination for me but I wasn't sure that I'd be able to get there, since it is not cheap or easy to get to Siem Reap. But luckily a plan came together and we managed to get flights and visa and so it was on! Yay.

Our tiny plane from Bangkok to Siem Reap
Seam Reap from the air
We stayed between Siem Reap and the Angkor Wat Complex at the Palm Village Resort, which was lovely. Simple and a little rustic, yet really nice, relaxed and friendly. And cheap too.
I kept having to remind myself that we were not in Thailand anymore, had to pay in US Dollars and that I couldn't use my Thai phrases. I actually felt a bit helpless and not easily able to communicate at all. But if I thought the Thais were friendly and easy-going people they have nothing on the Cambodians we met who are even friendlier. They seem poorer too, yet everyone smiles and waves and greets and is just happy to see you. I LOVED it there! It was also on the whole even cheaper than Thailand. Hard to believe, but true.

After settling into the resort and getting freshened up and then getting some directions and advice, we grabbed some of the rickety old resort bikes and headed of on the +-5-6km trip to Angkor Wat, via the permit office. It is completely flat so even Griff managed fine despite the 40+ degree heat, and at times crazy traffic, on the 'wrong' side of the road.

After cycling to Angkor Wat we were so excited and in awe being there that we stayed far too long. But it was sunset and we just couldn't pull ourselves away! We ended up having to cycle back, via a totally different route in the dark. With no lights or reflective gear. And pretty much no idea where we going, and having to cycle on the wrong side of the road. Most people did not speak any English or have any idea where 'Palm Village ' was. It was rather hair raising, but it was a great adventure. We all stayed calm and in good spirits knowing that we'd eventually get back somehow, and hopefully not end up in a ditch on the side of the road. And we did... get back that is. Although the way Griffin was veering around it was almost the ditch for him! :)

This video kind of shows what it is like but this was a QUIET stretch of road. But there are no traffic lights or stop streets anywhere and everyone just keeps going and filters as needed. You never stop, just adjust your speed to accomodate those around you. And the best part is everyone is friendly and courteous. So even when we were fumbling the lane changes and turn merges in the dusk people just sile and wave. There is no aggression at all.

THIS VIDEO shows us cycling int he traffic. Spot the pig on the bike half-way though.
THIS VIDEO is my favourite and shows our 3 personalities. I am trying to be cool, but look like a complete dork, Quinn is cool, but acts like an idiot on purpose pretending he can't cycle properley, Griffin is the clown - her being a 'No pictures' Nazi. :)

Photos below and there are more on facebook:
Outside the Main Entrance to Angkor Wat
Me at the back of the Angkor Wat complex
  A refreshing ice-cream break and Tuk-Tuk ride after walking and walking and walking between Angkor Tom, Bayon & Terrace of the Elephants etc in the heat of the day. How cool is that peel-able banana ice-cream!?
This was very 'Tomb Raider' or 'Temple of Doom' ish to me..

These building were built between 1100-1200AD! The Banyan (or strangler fig) trees are amazing!
There are the faces of Bayon. Which was commission by king Jayavarman VII, he was rather vain and self important it seems so his face and profile is on everything! It is beautiful (if not a weird).
These are the monks outside Angkor Wat in the dusk. I was so glad to get this shot!
A nun tying on our Red Strings and giving us blessings and good luck.
I was overcome with inspiration at Bayon and went up into a room on a high perch and did some yoga. It was great and I felt so invigorated and uplifted afterwards. I really really loved being there.
We explored as much as the temple grounds as we could, until we were tired and 'templed out' over 2 days. Poor Griff had seriously had his fill of temples by them and in his words 'temples can go to hell!'.
 The rest of the time in Siem Reap - we stayed for 2 nights - was spend shopping and eating at the night markets. Swimming in the resort swimming pool getting a massage and papaya facial and just savouring the last of our fabulous holiday. It really was an increadible trip and I am so grateful we had the opportunity to go. As far as I am concerned THESE are the experiences that make up our life-time memories and it is important to sieze them when they present themselves.

This little Khmer boy found us in the night market.He was pretty cheeky, but freindly and funny.
After Siem Reap our holiday was over and we had to hop back on a little plane back to Bangkok and then the long haul back to Cape Town via Dubai. Where I was not feeling well at all. After a 30 hour journey we were back home and I had to get up to run the 2Ocens Half 14-hours after we got back!

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