Our tuk tuk driver will take us along the long or short
Ang Kor. The rest of the day is for relaxing in the hotel and take some
dinner in Siem Reap.
The long route is shown at map on green and the
short one in red.
I decide while taking our breakfast we’re going to
hire the driver from yesterday as I didn’t get a better offer last night. So
I ask in the hotel desk where can I make a call from and it is he
who dials the number I’m showing in a small paper. In less
than 10 minutes our driver is at hotel’s door.
We agree to his advice of starting today
by the long route with the visit to Banteay Srei, the furthest temple.
We confirm the yesterday’s rate: 40$ in total as well. People use to
wake up very early for these visits, but we start at 9 AM.
First stop in a petrol station close to the hotel
to get some waters from the supermarket which we can store under our
seats. It’s less than one dollar for all 4 bottles.
We then stop at ticket boxes and get the
three-days tickets because w3e pay the same than for two single day
tickets: 40$ per person. With the tickets we can go on with our funny
tuk tuk ride, which, passing through the rural live in Cambodia, drive
us to the first temple: Pre Rup.
We like this and climb the steeper stairs to the top where
there are beautiful views. We explore every corner but the story here
comes from a police officer in the entrance. He comes to us and shows
us the badge, we make him understand we’re aware of he is a policeman
and ask about what he wants from us. I never would guess the answer:
Selling us the badge a real Cambodian policeman
badge”. We decline smiling and shocked.
We’re going to learn very soon everything is on
sale here and from everybody. We’re going to hear thousands of times
the words “one dollar” from children, old women or men… and for any
item or fact.
Climbing to the top is a must-do as it makes you acknowledge
of the environment. When you get into one of these temples is like
traveling to ancient ages, forgetting about your present, but it is in
the top where you can see you’re surrounded by rainforest everywhere,
in a flat land until the very horizon. It is the whole what makes this
place one of the most special ones in the world.
After this first temple we go for a long ride to Banteay
Srei, also known as “women temple”. It is like 30 Km further and tuk
tuks, which here are just a small motorbike towing a kind of trolley
with seats and a cloth roof, take more than 30 minutes on covering the
distance. So it is approximately one hour’s return trip through huts
and forest where you can get closer to the rural life of this country.
There are very few buildings made with bricks and, when we see one, it
is some public institution as schools. So we keep seeing peasant with
cows or children on school uniform on the road side. The cows here are
a different kind of the ones we’re used to see.
Banteay Srei is very beautiful with some
noticeable differences with the other ones: that reddish color and the
carvings around. Before reaching it there is a street market selling
clothes and souvenirs and my wife wants to take a look, but that is not
as easy as we think here. There is a rule: while you’re outside of a
shop you’re free for all the sellers to try to deal with you, once
inside one, they must wait outside until you leave it. So the typical
looking while shopping is not possible in quietness here as you’re
constantly surrounded by sellers trying to get you into their store. We
finally do our first and worst purchases but with the promise we’ll
learn on bargaining. Cambodia is a very cheap country and when I’m
talking about bad prices it is comparing with the local ones, which are
still far from the ones in our country.
Some sample pictures of this temple:
Another 30 minutes coming back through huts and
rainforest to Ang Kor’s long route and we reach our next stop: Banteay
When we notice we’re alone here and see the
architecture of the buildings as the ones in Tomb Raider games we play
around. We love this lonely visit and take this video:
We skip visiting East Mebon temple because we can
see the most of it from the road and seems too similar to the first
one. Our driver confirms it is very similar and then we go on to Ta
Som. This is a small temple we can visit in a few minutes.
We reach the next temple quickly, it is Neak Pean. We find a
stone sculpture in the middle of a lake after walking through a long
footbridge over the mangrove. We buy here a porcelain puppet by 8$. The
environment is the highlight of this place more than the temple itself.
There are big stone sculptures at both sides of the entrance bridge as
brawny men in a row holding the body of a naga, the mythological
seven-headed snake, in a way of banister.
The nest and last stop is at Preah Khan. We’re
offered bracelets from some children, this already happened on the
previous temples, but this time we buy 10 bracelets by one dollar to a
little girl counting the items in Spanish.
Our driver tells us how nice is this temple so we
get in looking for spectacular corners. It is big and there are a lot
of corners, but about the back part we see the images which have making
Ang Kor so popular.
Trees appear with these strange forms before going
up to the sky, and they’re huge These images are coming from the
collision between nature and ancient temples and are spectacularly
beautiful. Looking at the pictures it seems like if the soft tree bases
are molding over the stone buildings, but they’re far from being soft:
when we touch any of these trees we could say they’re as hard as the
stone the temples are made with. The impossible photo is taking the
temple wall with the whole tree upon it, which is getting higher and
higher to the sky, as if its base was not that special, and, only then,
decide to open its crown.
It’s 2:30 PM and we’re finished our visits for today, I
already told to our driver we are fast. We answer to his question to be
delivered on Pub Street as it is lunch time. In our way we pass through
Northern Gate and we can see Ang Kor Wat from far. Our driver says:
“That… tomorrow”, and yes, I’m aware of it.
We haven’t found the temples crowded and
we don’t know why, but no complains. May be it is due to starting so
late, that’s why – and because we like to sleep – we tell our driver to
be picked up from hotel at 9 AM again. He asks me 5$ for petrol which I
give and take note of it.
We take one cocktail each in the first pub we see
street, which looks fancy and we pay 4$ for each of them. The reason
for these high prices seems to be Angelina Jolie was there when filming
Tomb Raider, which is also the name of one of our cocktails. In the
rest of pubs the price for cocktails is 1.50$. We share a delicious
pizza with coke by 8$ in total in a terrace of another place and, after
that, we finally get into the market to look after the shopping we want
to take to home. The first we’re looking for is the silk, which is
everywhere in dresses, but not by meters as we’ve been asked to bring.
We cannot find the tailors I read we would find here. We get some
clothes which makes us know the shopping of this morning was not good
and I bargain the price for two watches to the same I was asked at the
beginning by one: 30$ for a Rolex an Omega beautiful watches. They’re
obviously fake, everybody must assume that, but really looks like the
original ones. I’m happy with this purchase, although the seller lady
shouting “I love Spain” makes me think she is happy too.
We come back to our hotel, already dark, but still wanting to
test the swimming pool, which we do. I only leave the hotel once for
getting tobacco and something to dinner at room for almost no money. In
a street fruit shop I can see a lot of strange fruit for us, looking as
if they should be kept in Men in Black’s customs. I buy one of them: a
fruit looking as a pink artichoke which is white with black pips
inside. Its name is Dragon fruit and I’m thinking maybe I could get a
wish if I get seven of them together.
prices are incredible: I’ve got a pack of 10 boxes of Cambodian
cigarettes by 5$, but this is for taking to Spain. Marlboro boxes cost
less than one euro: 1.20$.