Friday, 2 September 2016

Angkor Wat

There are not many places in the world that give you an over whelming feeling of history, Angkor Wat does just that. You actually feel like you're walking round a movie set, that its not real, that somehow you should not be there but you don't want to leave.
If you follow my blog you will know that Cambodia is a country right now I don't think I will ever return to. If you have not read the post with the reasons why then check it out. For $30 visa entry fee though and the $40 3 days tour of Angkor Wat I'd be tempted to say it is worth going. This may sound hypocritical so I am sorry for that, in an ideal world I'd pick up Angkor Wat and place it in a better country but thats impossible so if you want to experience this amazing place you will have to go and trust me it is a place you have to see to believe.

After a little bit of research we decided a 3 days tour would give us enough time to see everything and as its $20 a day to enter the site the 3 days $40 pass is well worth it. The pass lasts 7 days so you have 7 days to enter up to 3 times so you can have a rest in-between as it is hard work climbing all the steps and walking round the ruins and obviously getting up at 4am to go for sunrise. We did 2 days then has a couple of days off then did our 3rd day. We hired a tuk tuk at a cost of $15 a day between the 3 of us.

So aside from the various famous movies that have been filled at Angkor Wat, what is it all about? Well, if I am 100% honest I can't really put it into words the best I can say is you walk round feeling like you have gone back in time, like you're on the set of a movie, none of it seems real. It is very cliche but Angkor Wat is one of those places you have to see to believe and experience. It has this ora about it for instance I am 100% far from a religious man I have no problem with people who believe in religion I chose to not believe it for my own reasons but there was a monk giving blessings to people in the ruins of Angkor Wat and I felt compelled to be blessed I have no idea why I just did. I have been in several temples, churches and cathedrals in the world and never felt compelled to get blessed but here I felt if I left without one it wouldn't be right.

The sunrise over Angkor Wat is special if you take away the people standing in front of you that is, but if you find a spot where your view is uninterrupted you will not be disappointed. The best advice I can give you is dress appropriately or at least take some clothes with you as most of the sites will not allow you in unless your knees and shoulders are covered, I found this out the hard way on day one as I wore a vest. So on day 3 we had to return to some of the sites as I had not been allowed entry. I would also say start your days early too the first day we set off at 10:30am and the site where Tomb Raider was filled was closed by the time we got there so again had to return to that on day 3.

That brings me to the Tomb Raider site, Ta Prohm I loved this place more than the rest, I am a huge movie buff and to walk round the actual set was amazing. When I say the actual set you can see why they chose this place as they had to change noting at all. Its perfect and if you love movies as much as I do then you will love it just as much as I did.

I have added the map of the site and the tours that you can do, day one we did the small tour, day two we did the big tour and on the final day we did the sunrise then the sites we missed and couldn't enter on the first and second day. The tuk tuk driver provided cold water for us throughout the day, not sure if this was just lucky for us of the normal process when hiring a tuk tuk for the day. His english wasn't the best but they have the above map in the tuk tuk so there was a lot of pointing and showing where we were going and where we wanted to go. Take a bag with you and carry water and snack it gets stupidly hot throughout the day and water is needed. We were going to cycle the route but after the heat on the first day we decided against hiring bikes to do the tours ourselves, we would have probably died on day two as the tour that day was huge.

Angkor Wat is surprisingly peaceful, even though there are hundreds and hundreds of people there you don't feel crammed in, you don't feel overwhelmed. I found places I could just sit and listen and hear nothing but the wind and nature which is a great feeling when traveling the world its nice to sometimes just sit on your own and listen to the world go by.

One of the unexpected pleasures of the tour was the ride through the outskirts of Siem Reap, where you get to see the real Cambodia away from all the bright lights of the tourist trap, People making a living from little hut style shops where they world, live, eat and play. Hammocks strung up between trees, children playing in the lake, families fishing together. This is a beautiful side to Cambodia that I am please I got to see.

As previously stated I am not sure I will ever return to Cambodia but I am glad I went but also angry that I went too. I have some very strange emotions about Cambodia and a hell of a lot of anger. I hope one day the country changes and maybe I will return but for now I am happy I experienced the magnitude of Angkor Wat, I hope you get to experience it too as this is one of the positives of Cambodia I will never forget. Sadly for me at least the negatives out weight the positives.

Take care

Richard :)

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