A Bit of TLC Part 12 - Angkor Man!

Siem Reap, Cambodia   January 2024

Our long wait at the very small airport in Luang Prabang was made bearable by the company of a couple of young Greek/Aussie girls we shared a cab with. Sharing snacks and some great insider tips on the best “secret” Greek islands to visit that only the locals know about, we waited for our flight to be called. We had decided to head south, and although there was much more of Laos on our “to-do” list, we decided that a change of scenery – and possibly some beaches – were needed. But first a short stop at the gateway town to the famous Angkor ruins –  Siem Reap in Cambodia.

Not exactly what we were expecting!

The impressively named (and Chinese funded) Siem Reap International Airport had only been open a few months and looked very slick as we taxied to our gate.  Things rapidly went downhill however, as we entered the immigration hall.  We had come armed with the knowledge that we would need US dollars to pay for our visa on arrival and had sorted out our cleanest notes.  After joining the queue, we finally made it to the desk only to be turned away as one of the bills had the smallest of splits in it.  We then had to join yet another queue for the sole currency bureaux, along with travellers of all nationalities (including Americans) whose dollars had been curtly refused.

…and relax!

To make it worse, there were no ATMs (which would have made life easier as they dispensed dollars as well as riels), nowhere to get a drink, and an hour-long, expensive taxi journey into town.  Not a very good first impression…  I had visited Siem Reap as part of a tour some 14 years ago, and boy had it changed! The streets were full of bars, people, tuk tuks and night markets, with neon lights everywhere.  We looked at each other in dismay as we passed a very rowdy “Pub Street” and drove down “Funky Lane”.  Fortunately, our apartment was tucked away down a relatively quiet side street and was fabulous.  We made ourselves at home, only venturing out for shopping and meals in the evening – and of course to visit the world famous Angkor Wat complex.

Pre Rup Temple (and pre-us getting photo-ed out!)

We’d booked the services of a driver/guide who arrived promptly to collect us one morning.  The new road to the temples was again lined with food and souvenir stalls and we were accosted by several sellers as soon as we stepped out of the car.  The archaeological park was vast, containing the remains of massive and impressive Khmer temples dating from the 9th century. Sokna explained the significance of the sculptures and decorations as we climbed up and down the sometimes steep and very narrow staircases.  He directed us to all the best spots to take photos, avoiding the crowds where possible – I think one would describe this place as incredibly “Instagramable”. This did get a bit tiresome after a while however and we had to convince him that we had “enough” photos for one day!

Worth getting out of bed for??…

I did manage to drag Ian out of bed before dawn the next morning to catch the sunrise over Angkor Wat itself (along with hoardes of other people), but I have to admit it was quite magnificent in the early morning light. This temple lays claim to being the largest religious structure on earth, and was once home to over 1 million people (much as it was this morning!).

Me doing my best “Lara Croft” impression

My favourite temple has to be Ta Prohm where scenes from the film Tomb Raider were shot.  Massive tree roots have entwined themselves around the ruins, all set amongst the jungle – and these have been deliberately left to create a striking impression.  Parts of the complex are in the process of being restored however – with huge piles of stones being meticulously put back to together to recreate the original roofs, walls and buildings.

Say “cheese”

Our last stop was at the ancient city of Angkor Thom (meaning “big city”) – and they weren’t kidding!  The site has its own streets, gates and terraces, and the massive Bayon temple overseen by no less than 54 huge smiling faces.

Bright light…big city

Noticing Ian’s “unsmiling” face, and feeling a bit burnt out and very hot myself, we decided to call it a day.  As impressive as these temples were, we decided that we’d seen enough for one trip and spent the rest of the week relaxing by the pool in our comfortable apartment and planning the next leg of our journey.

Next Stop:  What could possibly Koh Rong??

More photos!…

How many steps did you say??
Angkor Bricklayers were never out of work!
What do you call this elephant with no ears?? Anthing you like, he's "stone" deaf!
Ian's last move on the giant Jenga game looked a bit precarious...
Three lions...on the temple
The flooded forest
Face time
Twisted sister
Neak Pean island temple
Making an entrance
One of the tug-of-war contestants
The writing's on the wall
Now you see me...
Now you don't!
The inside passage
My money's on the elephant
A busy afternoon at the Khmer Hairdressing salon
Windows...before glass was invented
The Khmer Canary Wharf
A pile of old stones...
Et voila! A reconstructed dance hall
"That rendering looks a bit dodgy"...
No En-tree
I've heard of "tree hugging" but this is ridiculous
Those "trunks" get everywhere!
Even nagas look rough at this time in the morning
Rubbing noses
Last photo...I promise!
They say 52 heads are better than one...
Ian hits "rock bottom"...
The novices were in detention after painting rude graffiti on the wall!
Fish Amok - a local speciality - and very delicious
One fish dish I didn't try!
Ian wasn't too keen on sampling the local beer either...

5 thoughts on “A Bit of T L C – Part 12 – Angkor… Man!”

  1. Great to see you both again having a wonderful time with lovely photos ! Yes, I remember about the dollars when Patsy & I went they have to have to be absolutely perfect – in fact never used ! Sorry to hear it was such a hassle at immigration ! Last chemo and scan was this week – so fingers crossed all will be as good as before. We have now booked our hols to Dominican Republic for 11 days end of Feb – need to just take some time-out to chill, dance, eat and drink ! Love to you both – Noreen & Patsy xx

    1. Hope all goes well with your last treatment – thinking of you – and great news that you’ve got a nice holiday to look forward to. Lots of love.

  2. Interesting place, shame there are so very many tourists, and that immigration experience sounded horrible! But all part of making memories, and what amazing ones you’re making. Great captions again – always make me chuckle. Love and hugs. Stay safe xxx

  3. It’s surprising how commercialised so many of these places have become in such a short space of time, and such a shame, 14 years is not very long ago. Those tree roots certainly do create a striking impression! Can’t wait to see what you will be doing next xxx

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