I got to Siem Reap and crashed out for a day after the 30 hours of travelling on planes and drinking in airport transfer lounges. After a good sleep it was time to go see Angkor Wat. These ancient temples are the pride of Cambodia, even making it onto the national flag. They were built by various ancient god-kings. Originally Hindu, they later became Buddhist places of worship and formed the capital of the Khmer region.
I got a tuk tuk all to myself for half a day to cruise around the various temple sites. The thing to do is to get there before sunrise. I found a nice spot on the moat and meditated for an hour or so as the sky went from a clear starry night to day time. I didn’t budge til the sun popped up above the tree line. You could feel the light change minute by minute. This was my view.
Then time to head into the main temple, Anchor Wat. It’s pretty special, especially in the morning light.
Then on to the other temples. The sight is spread out over a few square miles. My driver would put up a hammock in the back of his tuk tuk while I wondered around each sight for an hour. Chillin. I went back a couple of days later on a mountain bike. Here’s some of the other photos. Loads more on my Flickr stream.
This place is famous for being the set for the film Tomb Raider. Even cooler, it was the inspiration for the King Louie scene in The Jungle Book. I got up on top of the temple wall and did the ape dance. No I didn’t. But I should have.
Here’s where I sat for sunrise on day 2 of Angkor Wat
The next day I was eating breakfast and pondering what place to get a bus to next… then I spotted an advert for a motor bike for sale with Vietnamese papers, meaning I could drive it into Vietnam. I’d always planned to get a bike in Vietnam, and figured I should definitely buy this one. A couple of hours later Erika was mine. £170. Paul, who sold it so me after riding through Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia, named her, and I’m keeping the name.
My first long trip was a 4 hour ride to Battanbang, North West Cambodia. First impression was that it was dusty, dirty, and a dump. It’s not. I was just moaning because of the long ride. My butt ached, my shoulders hurt and the days of minimal sleep due to jet lag and all night drawing sessions had caught up with me. I skipped a whole nights sleep a few days previous, totally sober, just jet lag and getting excited over some characters I was designing. When they are done I might post them.
Northwest Cambodia isn’t touristy. You don’t have to worry about being swamped by beer pong mad Aussie’s or queue jumping Chinese here. My favourite experience was following the river road, which turned into a track. After a while all that was around me was rice fields and shacks. The locals looked surprised to see me. The kids were awesome, waving and shouting hello, and some adults too. That or a look of bewilderment. Yes, I’ve come half way around the world to spend a day driving down your dirt track road, to look at your rice fields, wave at your kids and smirk every time I have to stop the bike while a cow crosses the road. I loved that day. I wonder how we’d feel if a Cambodian came to the UK and took a trip down Narborough road…
Here’s some photos
Then it was time to head south to Pursat, another dusty Cambodian town. Not many tourists here either. In fact I’ve not had a conversation with another person in about 5 days. Not met any travellers since Siem Reap, and the locals don’t speak much English. Still, I’m loving seeing the real Cambodia.
I arrived in Pursat as the sun was going down. Checked in to a fairly nice hotel. My room has 2 double beds and only costs $5 a night.
Then I took a walk and found the market as it was closing down.
The next day I rode an hour out to a little dirt town, ate lunch. Again I got loads of looks and waves, they must not get many western visitors. I’d seen on the map a road that looked like it went up a mountain. I found it, but it wasn’t what I expected. It was a road used by lorries to access mines in the forest. They were mining some kind stone. They were also farming hemp. It wasn’t the ideallic mountain climb I was hoping for. But it fun blasting down the dirt tracks. Here’s Erika…
One last photo. After I arrived back at my hotel and had a chill I went out for a short ride to photograph the sunset. I thought I’d missed it as there was no clear view. Then I found this little track that opened up to this view, minutes to spare.
That’s it for now. Two more weeks in Cambodia. I’m heading south where there’s beaches, islands, and other travellers to talk to. And hopefully the boiled eggs won’t have bird fetuses in them.