Angkor Thom – Day 4

Our guide met us at 8am for our first day of ancient temples. This is what we came here for, an it sure as heck doesn’t disappoint.

We started at Angkor Thom, home of the Bayon temple (the one with all the gigantic Buddha faces) – it was (as I am likely to say numerous times over the following pages) amazing – being the dry season it was more desert-like than I had expected, but the architecture, carving, sculpture and just the sense of place were unbelievable.

Bayon Temple, Angkor Thom

From there we saw other sites at Angkor Thom – Baphoun temple, the terraces of elephants/leper king, and finally Angkor Wat itself, which sadly was under heavy restoration and not as photogenic as I would have liked. (Maybe I can do some photo-restoration to remove the scaffolding.) (Family-members: remember that trip where the Arc De Triomphe and Eiffel Tower were under gauze? This was a little like that…)

Baphoun TempleApsara Carvings at Angkor Wat

Our guide was really excellent, he very patiently explained the entire story of the reliefs at each temple to us, which was fascinating.

We had a not-so-great experience with the guy who had theoretically been helping us sort things out with the TAT office, he ended up basically dumping us at a mediocre tourist restaurant and telling us he wouldn’t help anymore. This left a bad taste in our mouths regarding the overall trustworthiness of folks here.

Siem Reap – Day 3 (Bus to Cambodia)

The bus ride from Bangkok to the border was easier and more pleasant than we expected. Contrary to the 6+ hours we were quoted, it only took about 4 hours to reach the border.

The border itself was another thing altogether. After passing the thoroughly pleasant Thai passport control folks, the Cambodian immigration process was a bit of an ordeal – tons of paperwork, many different lines, poor communication, not to mention intense heat and confusion. We were glad the guy from the bus was leading us through the process (though we certainly could’ve figured it out.)

From there, it was a two hour taxi ride to Siem Reap itself.

After some really unpleasant negotiating around finding a new hotel (see last post)  we found an adequate (though bizarre, quirky, and in process of demolition) guest house.

Tomorrow we start at the temples.