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Angkor Wat, Around the world travel, Backpacking, Bucket List, Cambodia, long term travel, Siem Reap, Southeast Asia, Temples, Travel

Temples and Ruins and Wats, Oh My!

We ended up spending about five days in Siem Reap. On our second day, we purchased a 3-day pass to visit the Angkor temples, and we averaged about 4-5 temples a day. It was HOT, and by the end of each day, I had about 300 photographs, sore feet and a new found appreciation for architecture. On our second day on the temple circuit, we joined the masses for sunrise at Angkor Wat. This entailed a 4am wake up call, and our tuk tuk driver, Laosang, was a gem and all about making sure we saw what we wanted to. I overheard a tour guide tell his group that the sunrises were hit or miss, but this was one of the best he’d seen in a long time. That made the early wakeup call much less painful in hindsight.

My advice to anyone planning a trip to Siem Reap is to get up early, catch the sunrise and see another three to four temples before it gets too unbearably hot. Also, we found that most of the bad weather we experienced rolled in during the afternoons, so we tried to work around that too. After a 4am wake up call, an afternoon nap was in order, but I woke up with just enough time to run across the street and rent a bike to go back for sunset. It was only about a 2-mile ride back, followed by a short hike and I caught a beautiful sunset before biking it back to town under star light.

On our last day, we didn’t get such an early start, and we were getting a little “templed out” truth be told. We saw a couple of temples in the morning, and we then opted for an afternoon boat ride to the floating village on Lake Tonle Sap. This was such a cool excursion. We took Cambodia’s equivalent of a longtail boat through flooded land, where only the tops of the trees stuck out through the water. The ride took about an hour, and eventually we came to a town, literally floating on water. All of the houses, schools and temples are built on stilts to account for the rising water levels during wet season. By the end of wet season, the lake ends up being about 5 meters deep.

We stopped in at someone’s home for lunch, and sampled more authentic Cambodian food, including freshly caught white fish from the lake. We watched as the vendors rode by in their boats, selling that days produce and as children played in the water, jumping from the steps of their home into the lake, and floating along in anything that would float, including buckets and garbage pail lids.

We made our way back to land and decided to try to make it to Angkor Wat in time for sunset. We couldn’t tell if we were going to get one or not because the sky was starting to look a little threatening, but as we got closer to the main entrance of the wat, a rainbow began to appear in the sky. Then, a few steps on, another rainbow appeared. How lucky were we? Not only did the rainstorm hold off, but we got not only one, but two rainbows, as well as an amazing sunset! What a way to end our tour of the Angkor Temple Circuit.

Around the world travel, Backpacking, Bangkok, Bucket List, Southeast Asia, Temples, Thailand, Travel

Temples and Temples and Ping Pong, Oh My?!

It turns out Friday was a national holiday in Thailand, and the government was promoting tourism, so we managed to get a tuk-tuk to take us around for 3 hours for about the price of $0.25. Imagine what you would pay for a 3-hour cab ride in NYC? We did have to stop off at a couple of tailor shops, as it seemed that’s who was providing the gas coupons to the tuk-tuk drivers. Who knows? That’s what we were told, but hey, we still got a $0.25 tuk tuk ride, whether it was truly a holiday or not. Doh, was our driver and he also rolled in a Thai language lesson into that bargain tuk-tuk drive. We now knew how to say “hello,” “thank you,” “goodbye,” and “good luck” by the end of the ride. Now, there are A LOT of temples in Bangkok, and after a couple, they do all start to look the same, but we wanted to make sure we saw the main ones. After about 3, we opted for a change of scenery. We grabbed some Thai food close to the hostel and began chatting with some people at the next table over (who we’d seen earlier on the temple circuit) who were making their way back to London via Tehran, after spending 8 days in Thailand. We decided to spend the afternoon on a long tail boat on the Chao Phraya River with them.


It was pretty eye-opening to hear their stories from the most recent election in Iran and the protests and violence that accompanied it. And again, it makes me realize that my travels will enable me to cross paths with people from all over the world from all different walks of life, which is what I love most about it all.

After our river cruise, we headed back to the hostel to gather ourselves and debate about the evening plans. For those of you who know Thailand, I can just say the words “ping-pong,” and you’ll know where this is going. For those of you who don’t, here’s some background. Bangkok is known for many things, one of them being sex tourism. Many people come here for this alone. There is one area specifically, Pat Pong Road, which is the equivalent of a “red light” district, where these “ping pong” shows are all the rage. Basically pair a strip show with a talent competition, the act being the most bizarre thing a woman can do with her “you know what”… To keep this PC, I won’t go into too much detail, but we did see ping pong balls being launched (yes, launched) from there, bottle caps being taken off of bottles, darts being launched at inflated balloons, and well, you get the picture. One of the last acts was a lady blowing out all of the candles on a birthday cake (No, I’m not kidding). We decided this was our cue that the party was over, and made a fast exit. And on the way home, I couldn’t help but think that I’ll never look at table tennis in quite the same way again.