Monday, April 21, 2014

Road Trip

First night in Siem Reap

By 7pm we had given up hope that our luggage would arrive so we headed out to get another set of clothes.  There is a little laundry just up the road that does laundry for $1/kg but between us we didn’t even have that, and I was getting sick of wearing the same clothes even though I was washing them all out each night.

Siem Reap has certainly changed in the 3 years since our last visit.  There are now lights strung up everywhere (though some of these are obviously still up from Khmer New Year (14th -16th April), there are many many more mid/up market restaurants and there are now at least 5 night markets (sadly all selling pretty much the same stuff – mostly crap aimed at the tourists)

Original Night Markets

Next stop after dinner was the original night market and the Baray Spa for a foot massage.  I was secretly hoping that Nita would still be there.  On each of our 3 previous visits to SR we have headed to this little open-air foot massage place at the back of the old markets and she has been there.  I was delighted to find her again and once more got the BEST foot massage.


Nita (on my left) and Mau (who did a fabulous and very careful job on Tony's leg)

What a pleasant surprise awaited us on our return - we were reunited with our luggage - Vietnam Airlines had delivered it while we'd been for dinner... yaaay, clean clothes (and plenty of them) toiletries, and my battered but trusty old walking sandals

Day 17 Koh Ker

Over the course of three previous visits to Siem Reap we have seen all the temples  on the Grand Circuit, the Small Circuit as well as Kbal Spean (River of 1000 Lingas) Beng Melea  (one of my favourite temples – about 90 minutes out of town) and Phnom Kuleen (the mountain where the rock for the Angkor Temps was mined).  We’ve re-visited Angkor Wat each time too.

This trip I really wanted to visit the temples at Koh Ker.  Suwan picked us up at 8am, we swung past the Tanei to collect Lynn & Michael and headed out on the 2 ½ hour drive to Koh Ker.  It’s the height of the dry season and as you’d expect everything was dry and dusty.  When the rains finally arrive it will be a very welcome time for the people who make their meagre living from farming.
Away from the tourist areas and out on the rural roads you see some amazing things.

The people living out in this part of Cambodia don't have electricity or running water but you can get mobile phone reception!
Khmer drive-through - sticky rice sellers on the road side

I cut his head off - but this little chap was getting a great view of the oncoming traffic!

Timber delivery

It was disappointing to see so much land cleared – the once green forests have been de-nuded, the grand mahogany trees taken for timber and replaced with acre upon acre of rubber or cashew trees (owned of course by someone in power – or more likely the land has been sold to a Vietnamese consortium by short-sighted government officials after a quick buck)

Koh Ker was the capital of Angkor for a short period in the 900’sAD and there are almost 200 ruins in the area.  Unfortunately this area (like much of Cambodia) was heavily mined during the KR years and only about a dozen temples are actually accessible to tourists.
Tree roots at Prasat Pram

1000 year old carvings

The day of the triffids comes to Koh Ker (Prasat Pram)

Prasat Neang Khmau (Black Lady Temple)

Prasat Chen

We stopped for lunch at Angkor Thom (Big City Koh Ker) Tony & Michael had wild boar, Lynn tried the deer but I checked out and went with the beef.  It was so nice not having to fight with other visitors for photo ops etc – and by my reckoning the Koh Ker temples probably saw about 25 visitors today including a bunch of guys from Hong Kong on a dirt bike safari.

Stir fried wild boar

Very cute babies (and their mum looked in really good condition for a puppy who had 8 of these little ones)

Angkor Thom (Koh Ker)
Holding up the walls

Tony & Suwn on the way to the Pyramid

Suwan, Michael and I braved and conquered the 200+ stairs up the central pyramid and were repaid with spectacular views over the whole area – as far as Phnom Kuleen .
200+ stairs to climb the pyramid
                                                                                          Michael & Suwan at the top
Tony & Lynn 'supervised' from ground level
Next stop was the triple temples of Prasat Linga and finally Prasat Banteay Pir Chean.  Hot, tired, sweaty and probably stinky, we headed back to town about 3.30pm having had a wonderful day.
Prasat Linga
Prasat Banteay Pir Chean
Our last day in Siem Reap tomorrow - the adventure nears the end

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