I bought a 3 day pass, a slick operation if ever there was one. You have your photo taken and seconds later you are issued a ticket complete with mug shot. First stop I made the main attraction, Angkor Wat (photo). I dont like seeing the best first, but I wanted to visit it a couples of times if possible. It is supposedly the largest religeous building in the world and I guess if you include the massive moat, then it probably is, but the temple itself only occupies as smallish area inside the moat. Its reached by 2 impressive causeways, but for me the fine details in the carvings is what stood out. Thankfully it was far less busy than I had expected, so wandering around was quite peaceful. I then made my way to Angkor Thom, entered by gateways flanked by a series of figures with large faces over the gateways themselves and surrounded by a 12km wall. At the centre was Bayon, little more than a pile of old stones from a distance, but once inside there are some 250 plus large faces keeping an eye on you. I stopped for lunch nearby, where all the woman shout from a distance in a very high pitched drawn out call Water Sirrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr. The afternoon was spent at the temple of Bapoun. This was dismantled, then had all the plans destroyed by the Khmer Rouge and it still being rebuilt, a giant 3D jigsaw. Then there was the Terrace of the Elepants, Terrace of the Leper King and Prea Ko. The nice thing about all these sights is that they are all so very different to each other, no time to get bored or templed out. I made my way back to Angkor to get a good photo as the sun went down, but just got wet from the rain instead.
The next day was more of the same, starting from where I had left off the day before, although they were the lesser temples and nowhere near as impressive as the others. Ta Prohm was probably one of the highlights, not for the temple, but for the way it has been taken over by the trees growing there, both now need each other for their survival (Photo). The last temple of the day, Bantreay Srei, some 30k north of Siem Reap and fantastically preserved and with fine and detailed carvings. I managed to cycle 82k and that was on a non cycling day, something wrong there I think.
On the last day of my ticket I made my way to the Rolous group, defineately not as good as the others but worth a look. I went back to a couple I had passed the previous day but didnt have time to stop at and had no information on them. They were great, some of my favourites, the first being Kraven, a small brick built temple with some wonderful carvings into the bricks that made it look as though the subjects had been pushed through from the other side. The one across the road whose name I have forgotten and the moment, but frankly I am sure you wouldnt care about the name anyway, was very different, a tumble down affair, but just wandering around there were lovely little lichen covered carvings that made them look really colourful. I made my way back to finish my 3 days as I started, at Angkor Wat. This time I took a bit more time to look at the details including walking the whole way around the 800m of bas reliefs.
None of my posts would be complete if I didnt moan about something, nor should I go too long without telling you how much pain I am in. I can cover both by talking about my sandals. When I go into temples and have to leave them outside I am always concerned that they will not be there on my return, that somebody might have stolen them. I am a bit paranoid as they are cycling sandals, they have cleats in the bottom and would therefore be very difficult to replace. Then just a few weeks ago I saw them after a visit to a temple and I suddenly realised just how tatty they look and in reality they are the very last pair anybody would wish to steal. They were about 5 years old when I left home and other than a week in February I have been wearing them the whole time on this trip, consequently they are rapidly falling apart. Nothing is made to last these days! The left toe keeps flipping over and I am sure will break off soon, but now on the same sandal the heel has collapsed and sharp bits stick into my heel when I walk, very painful. If I walk in a very strange way it is just about bearable. As each day passes I am looking more and more like a tramp. Hopefully there will be a new pair in Bangkok when I arrive. Dont worry though Caroline, the 2 pairs of ill fitting trousers Ieft with are still going strong. They are iller fitting now and hang like a sack, but no need to replace them yet. Caroline has always said I was the worst dressed man she knows, but I am now the worst dressed man I know too, and that no mean achievement in places like Cambodia!
So what now. Well heading west towards Thailand, the direction I want to go is one of the few bits of road I knew about before I left as Lindsey and David had warned me about it. It is know as the boulevard of broken backsides, and that is just for people in vehicles with 4 wheels. The road is in terrible condition for the 160k to the border. So why is that. Well allegedly a local airline owner is paying an unknown amount to an unknown government official not to upgrade the road as it has been for the rest of the way to Phnom Penh. This is so that people will fly from Bangkok to visit Siem Reap rather than use buses. To make thing worse it is now the wet season and when it rains roads quickly flood and dirt roads become quagmires. It has rained all afternoon here today, just getting to the internet cafe I had to walk through flooded streets. There are other options though, I could head north on dirt roads, but that might be just as bad, who knows, may be even worse. I could head all the way back to Phnom Penh, then south to the coast and west to Thailand, all the roads are good, but I dont want to retrace 3 days worth, especially as I have already cycled the last bit twice already. Then I could head south on a boat to Battam Bang, that would be really nice, but Mr Too Stubborn For His Own Good refuses to use public transport. So I think I will head west on the crap road, but I am not 100% sure yet. Oh to be on the tarmac of Thailand, then I wont mind the rain. Rain when it is hot is quite nice, but I dont do mud! I will head off tomorrow weather permitting.
Its also about I replied to Tonys comments. Thanks for you continued comments, they are always appreciated. It is nice to have regular comment contributers as I then know that at least somebody is reading this stuff, but you are normally far to generous in my opinion. I am never entirely happy with the content of this blog, normally I just sit down and type in a rush, then when I have left I remember all the things I had meant to comment on. Also the photos are never as good as I would want them to be. I have always enjoyed photography, but carrying a small camera creates limitations, which is really a compremise, but means I never happy with the photos. I want them to be far better than they are. Also mud is relative. If you bike is covered in mud who cares about another patch of a few millimetres, but if you have just cleaned it that same patch is mighty annoying. But thanks again, and to all the others that comment, keep the comments coming, I always enjoy reading them.
There is a whole bagful of photos uploaded of the various temples here, there is just so much good stuff here that I thought I would put a load on, but rest assured I took far far more! Hopefully it will bring back a few memories for you David and Lindsey.