11th March - 16th March:
After the disaster regarding Burma we were determined to go to Cambodia so after getting the passport pictures for the Cambodian Visa we were ready to go. A rough night sleep on a beach in Phuket was made up for by the brilliant street food we found in the market prior. We arrived at Siem Reap, on of the largest cities in Cambodia, at noon were I made the mistake of converting 60 pounds into the local currency (Riels) rather than US Dollars which are also accepted. 60 pounds gave me 500,000 riles and the costly problem of having bucket loads of bills of great value and having to do lengthy conversions every time I wanted to purchase something. We hired a taxi driver (Mora) to find us a Hotel and it turns out he was also a tour guide so we decided to book a full day temple tour the next day.
The hotel we found ourself at was an absolute bargain!! Ten dollars per night including, WIFI, a pool, laundry service and free breakfast. The temple tour began at 8.30am when we set off to one of the many stunning temples Siem Reap has to offer. The 1st being the Temple of the Lady, a small temple made out of rose sand stone. The 2nd temple we visited was the Change Body Temple built to hold the dead king for a short period of time so he could change into his next form (the next king). This temple was climbed high above the trees and gave a great view of the, currently dry, rice paddys and the local community. The best temple we visited was a jungle temple which had been abandoned thousands of years prior and had been reclaimed by the jungle which huge strangler figs and tropical oaks intertwined with the structure. This is actually the same temple used in one of the tomb raider films.
Angkor Wat (Royal Temple) which is what makes Siem Reap so famous, is a truly over whelming sight from a distance (4, 15 story buildings surrounding a huge 25 story central spire). With a huge moat surrounding the entire grounds and a bridge that is a good 10 - 15 minute walk. We finished the day with a viewing of Angkor Thom which was the royal city thousands of years ago and many of the buildings had huge carvings which told great stories such as the movement of armies and the navy.
The following day we again booked a day trip (Mora was an exceptional tour guide), this time we decide to visit a sacred mountain very near to Siem Reap. At the very peak (I mean the very peak) of the mountain is carved a reclining Buddha as is a huge footprint which is believed to be the footprint of Vishnu a Hindu god (there is a lot of religious overlap in Cambodia). We then visited a spring which was the start point for a Hindu/Buddist sacred river. Into this river many wells had been built for the one of the previous Cambodian Kings to bathe in. This king was a leper and he believed it helped with his disease. We then spent the rest of the afternoon swimming in a waterfall a few km down stream.
The 2nd day in Siem Reap was concluded with a visit to the infamous "Pub Street" which is EXACTLY what it says on the tin... well apart from they don't mention that a pint is 25p (35 cents). You can imagine what events followed.....
For the final two days we simply enjoyed Cambodia our own way; renting bikes, riding many Tuk Tuk's, eating local food (Crocodile Amok Curry and fried Tarantula), visiting the old market/night market and bartering over locally made products, visiting monasteries ohhh and of course once again taking advantage of the very cheap alcohol.
Cambodia an absolute MUST if you are in South East Asia.