When people refer to going to see Angkor wat, that is the most famous of the anicent temples in Siam Reap but it’s not the only one.
There are a large number of temples, some almost completely reduced to a pile of stones and others that are still in very good condiitions. The majority of them lie somewhere in between those two descriptions.
Some of the temples are about 70km out of town so getting there by cycling isn’t really an option. An organised tour is quite expensive so we decided to try and find a tuk tuk driver who’d take us there instead.
We did get a driver without any problems, we showed him what temples we wanted to go to and told him that we wanted to travel over the course of three days.
This was absolutely fine. The main temple, of course, is Angkor wat. Most tourists like to go there and see the sunrise or the sunset. On our 3rd day the temples, we arranged for the driver to pick us up about 5.30am and that was the sunrise day.
At almost all of the temples on the first day, they were fairly quiet and they were also a fair bit out of town. Walking through the same temples that the ancient leaders did so many years ago is quite a surreal experience.
For the most part, you can see where the temples had various rooms and corridors leading off to different parts. Essentially, the temples were built in the jungle so surrounding them, you have some very dense trees along with some noisy wildlife.
Towards the end of day 1, I had developed a bit of a flu bug – my throat was burning, I was burning up and felt terrible. Walking around in high temperatues didn’t help matters but I was unwell so we cancelled the driver for the next day and I spent all of that day in the room lying underneath the fan.
At this point, it was difficult to know what was wrong, perhaps a tropical disease, malaria, common cold or manflu were amongst the possibilities. The fact that I am still here to tell the tale shows how I battled through my ailment to recover.
When we went to back to going round the temples, there was evidence of the fact that Cambodia is not a well off country. There were a large number of children at some of the temples acting as sales people.
Usually, they had postcards, ten for “one dolla”. Some of them had small paper things that they were trying to sell and others were simply asking for a dollar.
Most of the time, these kids would approach you in groups of four or five. Sometimes, one would hit the other or push them away so that they would be the recipient of any dollars that were going to be handed out.
As difficult as it is, we displayed the characteristics of Scottish people and didn’t give them any money. The reason being is that a lot of guide books and websites suggests that giving money encourages the parents to keep the children out of school to earn money from tourists.
At one point, in one of the temples, I heard an older guy saying to his wife that he had saw enough of the temples for one day. The phrase I heard him using was that he had “enough of a good thing”.
After a while, all of the temples begin to look similar and it’s almost impossible to remember the names of them and any information about them.
On day 3, we were to be amazed by the temples again. Our tuk tuk driver picked us up shortly after 5am and drove us to Angkor wat and left us to find our way to the entrace in the dark.
This was so that we could watch the sunrise of Angkor wat. Yes, there’s a massive amount of tourists there but we expected that. Some people say they don’t like to be where there are a large number of tourists but that’s part of travelling. And there’s usually a good reason as to why a lot of people want to see certain things.
After the sunrise, we haggled for some pancakes. They were really expensive and after a bit of going back and forward, we got them for a cheaper price than what the menu stated.
We walked round the temple itself and as we were leaving, we met one of the French guys who ran the guesthouse in Kampot. Given the distance between the two places and the number of people there, it was surprising to see them.
From there, it was back to our chariot (tuk tuk) and on to see some more sights.