I’ve been Ankored, Siam Reap, Cambodia (March 23, 2007)

Yes miracles do happen I did actually get up at 5.45 am to catch the 7 am speedboat ferry up Tonle Sap Lake from Phnom Penh to Siam Reap. The boat was similar to the one I took in Sihanoukville minus the Monks and was smooth sailing.

En route, the river slowly widened further and further until we were in the centre of the lake and could see nothing on the horizon except filthy brown water and a few fishing boats. Then we started to see lots of birds flying overhead some I had never seen before and buffalo along the edge of the water some grazing contentedly from the water while their owners baked in the heat and worked the paddy fields and some locals rummaged in the mud along the riverbank for what scraps they might find.

Being the end of the dry season the water level is at its lowest so to navigate the rest of the passage we had to jump on board another boat midwater. Now that doesn’t seem so bad but then add stupid tourists juggling oversized baggage, swarms of locals in boats that came from the huge floating village nearby to sell us bananas and cans of coke ’’no’ was a word they refused to comprehend and persistently placed food and drink items in our face while navigating onto the other boat. They were like acrobats jumping from one boat to the next to get there sale.

We passed the colourful water police station built on bamboo stilts in the water with a giant colourful sculpture of a bird on top of the roof. I doubt if much official work was done here if any. Then came the school the classrooms again built over the water and a large colourful building including volleyball court on the rooftop and playful kids swam in the water underneath in the shade.

The helpful Tuk Tuk driver in Phnom Penh called his friend to collect us from the boat and had a sign already for us “MR Alex” and was driven in an aircon car the 5 km to Siam Reaps centre where we stayed at our lovely Guesthouse with swimming pool and hammocks. That evening we set out for the temples and visited the main site, Angkor Wat, for a cloudy sunset.

3 hours passed with us exploring the vast impressive site. Climbing narrow stairs, dark passageways and discovering ancient Buddha statues covered in orange cloth and burning incense sticks. Buddist nuns in white robes knelt in front of the statues and chanted to Buddah while Buddist Monks in Orange robes wandered around the site as if almost posing for tourist pictures. Swarms of tourists congregated around there guide translating and Japanese tourists were plenty ladened down with huge cameras.

The next day we did the small circuit visiting Angkor Thom, Ta Keo the temple mountain that was struck by lightning and Pol Pots explosives & Ta Prom the tree engulfed temple that is left to the Jungle before the exhaustion finally set in.

Then again the following day we were back on the Tuk Tuk temple trail and visited the grand tour circuit. Including Preah Khan, Neak Prom temple lake (but was dry), Ta Som, East Meborn Temple Mountain that is covered in animal statues, the impressive Pre Rup Temple Mountain where you can see vast plains and Jungle from the top and finally the ruins of Banteary Kdei. So with 10 temple sites in 2 ½ days under our belt, we decided to call it quits and retired to the swimming pool at the guesthouse for the rest of the day.

As it is too pricey to fly to Laos from Siam Reap we decided to do the overland route so we are now back in Phnom Penh where we are making our way up by the Asian Karaoke blaring bus to the unofficial Laos border crossing in North-East Cambodia via the town of Kratie where there are rare dolphins in Mekong River. We are going to stay in the 4,000 islands ‘Don Det’ in Laos where electricity runs for only a few hours a day so I doubt if I will be emailing for a while. Take care and let me know how your all doing.

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