The main staple visitor attraction in Cambodia is the ancient temples, of which there are many, so it was pretty much a given that I’d include these in my itinerary.
The Angkor Archaeological park in the Siem Reap Province contains the most famous Khmer temples – Angkor Wat and Bayon.
I met Mr Thon (To-To) at the hotel reception at 9am and after getting me seated in the Tuk Tuk, he pulled a laminated map from the roof and talked me through the temples – explaining that travel to the main temple area was free as part of my hotel package, but if I wanted to explore further it would be $20. I was more than happy to stay within the main Angkor site. He then explained that there were three ticket options for the park – 1 day $37, 3 day $62 and 7 day $72. I decided to buy a 3 day ticket because I knew that I’ll be visiting again next week as part of my charity trip.
To-To’s English isn’t great (most definitely better than my Khmer though) but he was able to do some basic introductions and explained that he’s not originally from Siem Reap, but he’s moved here because of family and he has three sons. On the way, he would stop at significant spots and give me some tit bits of information such as at the end of the hotels unmade, pot-holed track he felt the need to apologise for its poor state. He’d probably seen me wobbling & bouncing along in the back and was concerned, but I was loving it.
A side note for the ladies here…if you ever feel the need to test whether you’re bra is supportive, then get in the back of a Tuk Tuk on the Cambodian road system and you’ll soon find out! A note to Victorias Secret… If you want an influencer to test & review your lingerie in this manner, then feel free to slide into my DM’s!
To-To stopped beside a newly built, grand, eastern looking building, close to the Angkor Wat ticket office, and explained that it was a newly built hotel. It was part of a chain, with another one in Phnom Penh and they were now extending it further, out the back. I felt that the building was actually quite vulgar in comparison to the other humble and modest buildings nearby… But I’m also aware that tourism is vital in increasing the wealth in this area. Incidentally, the Angkor Wat ticket office is built in a similar style and I was surprised by how grand it was – when I’d read about it previously, I’d envisaged a small, tin roof shed!
The ticket office is modern and very well organised, with separate queues for 1 day, 3 day and 7 day tickets. Each bay has a ‘greeter’ and someone in the kiosk. The greeter checks you’re in the right queue and then checks your nationality. What I wasn’t expecting was to have a mug shot taken! With my hair scraped back, no make up on and still deficient of sleep, the resulting photo would definitely not look out of place on Crimewatch….it actually makes my passport photo look half decent! You have to produce your ticket at every temple, so I was constantly reminded that I look like a suspect throughout the day!
After leaving the ticket office its quite a straightforward journey to Angkor Wat. To-To made one last stop at a road side cart and asked me if I knew what it was on the tray. Having read a bit about Cambodia before I came….and looking at the rather unappealing blobs in front of me, I guessed at snails. I was correct! To-To explained that these carts weren’t great as they had no cover over them, so the dirt and dust gets on them…DAYUM! And there was me hoping to indulge in a bag full!!
Coming up next: The temples and a backpack hitchhiker…