All templed out…

Phew! That was an amazing couple of days…

It all began with another early start. 4am, lizard in our bathroom, but nothing could deter us. This morning we were off to see the Angkor temples and had paid extra to go and see the sunrise over the main, most magnificent of the temples Angkor Wat.

Getting to the lookout point was fun in itself, racing through the city against all the other temple-goers, it was our speedy tuk tuk against the world! A quick look ahead and vroom vroom we were over taking at least 2 other tuk tuks… O yeeah… The tuk tuk dropped us off at the bridge which goes over the moat into the Angkor Wat area…obviously being before sunrise, we couldn’t see anything.. We stumbled through to the sunrise point, not that we knew the way, we just followed the silhouettes of the other travellers and grabbed a spot directly in front of the lake that reflects Angkor. We were glad we got there early, because the place was packed up very soon after and people were willing to put their tripods in some very uncomfortable places to make sure they had a good view!

Sunrise was beautiful over Angkor, definitely worth getting up early for.. Although our photos may not do it justice, I did notice the Iphones probably had better shots than the ones taken with slrs, so judge the experience on those photos! (this is a crappy photo, but having trouble uploading a good one!)


We then wandered round Angkor and several other temples through the day. The temples are huge stone structures which had been built as temples to Lord Vishnu, however later on as the Cambodian national religion became Bhuddism, the temples were taken over and had Bhudda statutes installed. Additional temples were built which were entirely Bhuddist too. In many of the temples you still see large Vishnu statues, stories from Hindu tradition carved into the walls and even Shiv ling jis still in great condition.

The temples that stood out the most had to be Angkor; for its grandeur and the beauty of the moat around the huge temple complex; Bayon for the spectacular Buddha heads which tower above the temple and Ta Prohm which had a jungle like atmosphere with humongous trees growing out of it…

I personally found that a couple of the smaller temples we visited, such as Thommanon had incredible atmospheres and a great sense of peace when sitting there. This could have been partially due to less tourists being there but nonetheless they provided a great spot to admire the architecture and grounds in a way closer to what I imagine people in the older times would have done.


We ended the day by walking up to the mountain temple Phnom Bakeng and grabbing a fantastic location off the edge of the temple to watch the sunset. To be fair the sunset was a bit of a let down as the sky had become quite hazy, but we got to meet a really cool Spanish couple who were now living in China and a dude from London who was travelling for 6 months so not so bad!


After the long day, we were definitely templed out, so despite having a 3 day pass we decided we’d take the next day to just chill out and check out Siem Reap…

.. Yes we went shopping.. And we visited the market not just once but went back a good 3 or 4 times during the day.. And actually discovered new parts each time (As Rishi said if we had walked the market systematically, line by line, we could have avoided the multiple visits)..there was a hairdressing alley, beauty alley and sewing people alley on top of all the normal stuff all within the market! It was pretty cool.


The shopping was interspersed with eating. Despite seeing the appealling spicy snails stand, we opted for an awesome Italian restaurant for lunch. The pizza and pasta were both soooo good, we were shocked at how amazing the food was. By far the best restaurant as yet..


Being a Sunday, (we didn’t know it was Sunday), there were many young kids around town trying to sell postcards, bangles, anything you wanted for ‘one dolla’. A phrase, I’m sure we won’t forget easily.. Could buy just about anything for one dolla.. Rishi and I have both been to India and other developing countries where you see the kids living a very ‘different’ lifestyle to what we’ve grown up to, but it still shocks you every time you see the little kids trying to earn a living from selling stuff to tourists or getting excited because you gave them a pretty much empty coke can…

You obviously consider how blessed we are and what grace has been bestowed on us that our childhood was exactly that, an innocent childhood. Even now, at the ripe old age of 27 and 28, our parents still ensure we have food, shelter and anything else we may ever need. They even packed us snacks for this trip! You inevitably compare this to the young children you see hanging around town on their own and appreciate what you have and have a sense of sorrow for what you imagine they are suffering…

But who are we to assume this? Who is to say that our childhood is the better way of growing up?… The freedom the kids have here, the beautiful surroundings and the community feel are all things that my parents certainly rave on about from their upbringing in Africa… Perhaps getting excited from one dolla and a few sips from a coke can puts you in stead for a happier and more content life and isn’t that what we keep searching for anyway?


As Milan always tells us in Chyk class, ‘If happiness was in that Gucci handbag or BMW, we would all have the same level of happiness from getting one, but we don’t.’

Hmm…

On a lighter note…today was special day for Rishi, which I can’t forget to mention, as he had his first Thai style massage and I think he has now been converted… Well I’m judging by the glazed look he had on his face when he came back from the massage which was either pensive relaxation or pure horror… Nothing like paying for a woman to beat you with her hands and feet… Although Rish obviously got into the pampering theme and had a fish pedicure… they chowed down on those feet like there was no tomorrow… NICE!


Anyhow, tomorrow we are taking a scenic boat ride to Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia meaning another early start! Yay.

The Infamous crossing… Bangkok to Siem Reap

And the journey began…

Backpacks on at 6am, en route to MoChit sky train station.. Having been in Bangkok for a couple days, we knew how to get around on these.. A cab ride from the sky train station to the bus station, easy enough, right? Uh no! Who would’ve thought the cabbies didn’t even know where their closest, biggest bus station was!!.. After harassing a few of these guys who sat looking at us with confused faces in their bright pink cars we were helped by a random local lady who was doing lord knows what at the time in the morning in that location wearing her teeny shorts and white t-shirt.. She told the cabbie to take us to ‘the place with lots of buses’.. Hmm, why hadn’t we thought to say just that?!

Anyhow, we arrived safely and in good time at the bus terminal to get ourselves a first class ticket to Aran phayet.. Yes, that’s right, we were travelling first class.. That’s how we roll!! And it was worth every penny of the extra dollar we paid for it.. We got given a cup of water and a seat slap bang in the middle of the coach. Ok, so I couldn’t actually work out which ones were the second class seats, but hoping our extra money had gone towards getting a seat away from the stinky toilet for the ensuing 5 hour journey.


The bus ride was pretty cool, saw the scenery, had a few locals join and leave including some service men and also saw police come on board to do a random check which ended up with 3 kids being taken off the bus.. No idea why, but came to the assumption that they must have runaway or something!

The fun really began when we got to rumfdsj market.. A kind tuk tuk driver drove us the 2km from the bus station to what we thought was border control for 20 Baht. Except that it wasn’t border control but instead one of the special ‘visa purchasing centres’ that charge you extra to do the visa buying for you… Not ones to be scammed, Rishi and I insisted we would not be buying from them but would venture to the real legal place to buy the visa…

…We walked right out of there and marched on to the street…

… After a little wander round, we marched right back inside and got the lovely gentleman to get some visas for us! O well, the other backpackers were doing it, what’s the worst that could happen?

Going through thai and Cambodian immigration was pretty straightforward.. Apart from the long queues at the Cambodian immigration centre which was basically a small room with a tree growing out of it on one side.. Yes that’s right, a tree growing out of the building.


From there, you get a free government shuttle bus to ‘the International transport centre’ at Poipet or some other overly exaggerated name, where you can choose to take a bus for $9 or hire a taxi for $48.. We took the 3pm bus…

At 4pm, as we sat on the bus, still outside ‘the International transport centre’ we realised we would have to relax on timings and plans and all the other things which are MY way of keeping in control…

The bus journey to Siem Reap was cool though, beautiful scenery, little kids playing outside, and a couple of little road side cafs.. This is where we experienced the first of the little kids begin their sales pitches and I have to say they are bloody good sales people… They really know how to build up the value of their postcards, telling us we won’t find these exact high quality postcards anywhere else.. Not to mention giving everyone a free gift bracelet first, meaning you feel obliged to give something back… Rishi is very keen to have them back in London doing sales for Suncrest!

Anywho, back on the road and into Siem Reap… We were dropped outside a delightful guesthouse where our bus driver had moved our backpacks into the guesthouse already before we’d even taken the 2 minutes to get off the bus.. However as appealing as the guesthouse looked, we stuck to the one we had booked and were really thankful for it.. Gorgeous hotel with a massive Vishnu statue as you enter, friendly staff and our whole tasty, vegetarian dinner there cost only $7.50! Could get used to this…

The adventure begins… ooh forget that, I spy a market…

Woohooo we just finished the first 2 days of our 120 day (and more) adventure ALREADY…and still it hasn’t sunk in that we’re going to be away for so long!

We started out in Bangkok, which is somewhere me and Anj have been to before, so we decided to make this our chillaxing part of the trip to get over the jet lag…we stayed in siam square in a super modern and clean hostel (thanks to super anj’s incredibly detailed research)


The last time I’d been in Thailand I was like 13 or something small, so seeing it with new eyes, I couldn’t help compare it to India with the little tuk tuk rickshaws driving around, lots of market stalls everywhere you go and plenty of noise around the city (even though India probably wins on that front hands down!)

Now as sad as it seems, No we didn’t see the lying Buddha statue and nor the golden palace, as we both remember them pretty well…

Instead we pretty much spent the WHOLE time in the markets and the malls!

The malls, Siam paragon especially, are major high end malls (it even had a Lamborgini show room on the top floor)…this was slightly out of our price budget for this trip!…so we window shopped and then left.

That left the markets…we were told by our favourite guide, the old discussion forums on trip advisor, that china town is a must visit!

So we scootered down in our very metro sexual pink tuk tuk! To be honest, when we reached we were a little disapointed, but then again don’t know what we expected!


Loads of shops on the main road consisting of gold shops and small Chinese restaurants selling shark fin soup where to be honest none of us veggies would risk even entering.

However the tiny side streets with their market stalls was amazing just to see…loads of little stalls selling handbags, jewellery, food, t-shirts and other small trinkets etc…

This is where the WARNING sign comes in for the guys traveling with their other half…we then ended up at two further night markets in Siam and Patpong (very famous) selling similar stuff…

For the ladies though, Anj will testify that she preferred the markets in Siam for their fashion!.. Luckily for me, many of the clothes were too big for her! Phew!.. Me, I preferred the variety of home stuff, t-shirts etc at patpong, even though it is part of the red light district, where we had people trying to sell us on sex shows! Not good unless your into that sort of thing!


Well overall Bangkok, even if it has been mainly shopping, has been loads of fun with some great Thai food too! A good way to start the trip… Yum.

Now as we sit on the bus on our way to our next stop…Cambodia I wonder what’s in store for us there…can’t wait for us to reach! Another 5 hours to go…and that’s just to the border!

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