Temples of Angkor
We had decided to catch a plane to Siem Reap instead of taking a long boat or bus ride. It turned out to be a VERY good decision, if a bit more expensive. The flight was really short – just over ½ hour, service was superb, and they fed us a nice snack. We grabbed a cab from the airport, got chatting with our driver Johnny and booked him for the next two days to see the temples. Johnny also found us a fantastic guide for the next morning, impressive considering it was already 7pm. We paid $25 for each of them and I’m quite sure it was a bargain compared to what the hotel would have charged. Worth every penny as well!
7am came back-breakingly early, but the morning was comparatively cool (30 degrees instead of 40) There are simply no words adequate to describe the temples of Angkor. Get a plane ticket and go see them for yourself. Get a guide for at least the major sights on your first day so you know what youre looking at. Our guide certainly added to our appreciation of this amazing place. I was taking a million photos, and Grant was super-Daddy and carried Jessica through the temples and up about a million stairs! My hero!! We spent three hours touring temples before it got too hot to move anymore. Thankful for our air-conditioned car and rock-star temple-to-temple service, we made our way back to the hotel to have a swim and some food.
Grant took Jessica to the pool while I caught up on some work (yes, WORK I am the travel agent here!!) They only lasted a short while before Jessica pooped in the pool (thankfully wearing a swim diaper, which we don’t often use anymore) and yelled: ”Daddy I POO-ED” across the pool at Grant. He beat a hasty retreat back to the room and was too embarrassed to go back to the pool that afternoon!!
Our driver and guide showed up again at 2pm and we toured some more amazing temples. Jessica had a pony ride around the lake in front of Angkor Wat, which gave Daddys back a break for a bit. Angkor Wat is certainly the premier attraction and our guide was wonderfully adept at avoiding tour groups so I got some good photo-ops. Photos just don’t do it justice though.
Jessica was much more awake in the afternoon and at one point was skipping though Angkor Wat singing: “Cambodia is GREAT!!” I think she’s enjoying herself on this trip. True, she spent more time digging in the loose dirt between ancient temple flagstones and exterminating ants than looking at the artwork on the walls, but - hey – as long as she’s enjoying herself! There WAS one notable moment of art appreciation, though, when I turned around and caught her investigating the nipples of one of the stone apsara dancers carved into the side of the temple. I have no idea why she was doing this, but I got a picture of it to embarrass her with later!
We took an elephant ride up the hill for sunset. Our very first elephant ride and we all loved it, although I will say that it is NOT a comfortable mode of transportation. Three of us were crammed onto a small platform balanced atop the elephant’s shoulders. It swayed and lurched with each step the ellie took and we were also going uphill which tipped us backwards too. An exciting ride, though, if not a comfy one!! We hung around at the top of the hill and checked out the view. The sunset didn’t look all that amazing so we decided to get back to the hotel because we had dinner and a show booked and we were all in desperate need of a shower. Of course, the instant we get to the bottom of the hill, the sunset becomes absolutely spectacular and we end up having Johnny pull over to the side of the road so we could take some pics.
We had enjoyed our guide so much that we’d decided to book him for another day. But, he had school and he’d already cut classes to guide us for the first day, so we ended up not bothering with a guide on our second day there. (at some point, I will dig out his card and give the guide’s name and contact info because he was AWESOME) So, we contented ourselves with booking Johnny and his mobile air-conditioning for the following day.
We made a quick dash back to our hotel for a MUCH needed shower before catching the evening Apsara dance performance at the hotel. We really should have gone into town - it would have been much cheaper than the $90 we paid for the three of us. But, the stage was set outside in the hotel gardens, our table was right next to the stage, the dancing was wonderful, and the meal was nothing short of spectacular. All in all a fantastic and long day and we hit our pillows hard.
Morning came early again and we met Johnny downstairs at 7am. Turns out that Johnny was almost as good a guide as the other guy, and although he couldn’t be onsite with us, he gave us enough of a rundown before we entered each place that we had a reasonable idea of what we were looking at.
The previous day we’d hit all the major sites and this day was devoted to picking and choosing amongst the remaining zillion lesser temples. Although these weren’t on scale with the grandeur of Angkor Wat, we had just as much fun exploring some of these sites. They were comparatively deserted, and we’d often go ten minutes or so without seeing another person. We felt like Indiana Jones clambering through these deserted, overgrown ruins. It was wonderful! TONS of photo-ops, and we were exhausted again by the end of the day.
My GOD is it hot in Cambodia at this time of year! The locals don’t go anywhere or do anything from about 10am to 2pm and we swiftly learned to follow suit. We met a few hardy explorers who decided to tour all the temples during this time because there was nobody around. Good in theory, but bad light for photos and I wasn’t about to put Jessica or ourselves through that kind of hell. We retired to the pool during that time of day. It was bad enough as it was. We were relatively comfortable until 8am. Then, as the sun climbed in the sky, so did the temperature … to around 42 degrees or so. The POOL was 34 degrees - like swimming in soup! By 8:10am we were all completely drenched in sweat, Jessica was generally passed out in Grant’s arms and he was carrying her up and down a million stairs. The only way to keep sane was to hire an air conditioned car (yay for Johnny!) to drive between temples and to do it in short bursts. We decided that, even though the temples were absolutely spectacular and there was definitely more to see, two days was enough. Grant could barely walk after carrying Jessica so much and we were templed out.
Out of time again…….