So we flew from Bangkok to Siem Reap because we wanted to visit the temples of Angkor Wat. Now, as I live Ina fairly touristy area I have a huge a region to doing anything too touristy, so I was interested in seeing the temples but dreading the crowds.
So rather than getting a guide or going on a tour we swotted up on the history of the temples beforehand and decided to explore them by bicycle. Siem Reap is totally flat so the cycling was easy and the first temple, Angkor Wat was only about 6 kilometers from where we were staying.
We also decided to go at lunchtime to avoid the crowds, but I don't think it made much difference, it was still very busy. But every now and then there would be a gap in the crowd and you'd get that tourist free photo!
Obligatory selfie looking a bit battered but so would you if you had cycled through a foreign city in 32c in long sleeves and legs covered (dress code for visiting temples). I include this photo because on previous trips to Asia (see Feb 2008 in archives) I hardly ever appeared in photos and therefore might not have really been there, so this is proof!
This was taken at the top of the Angkor temple, near the tomb of the king.
And then we got back on our bikes and cycled over another moat which was the entrance to the Angkor Thom, once the great city of the Khmer Empire. At this point I realized that this was a huge site, full of temples, and there was loads more to see.
Here the ruins of Prasat Bayon are less well preserved than Angkor Wat, but it is fun wandering through them and spotting the many faces carved into the stone.
See the faces in the rock?
By tins point it was already 5pm and the site was closing at 5.30... We still had one more temple to see, the one with the trees growing through it. We meant the one made famous by Angelina Jolie in Tomb Raider, which unknowingly we had already cycled past, but when we asked for directions we were sent off to Prasat Ta Prum which was another 4 Kms into the site.
We cycled like mad for another 15 minutes and eventually arrived....so sweaty, dusty and sticky with suncream, dust and mosquito repellant that we made a new rule of no more selfies! But it was amazing, there was hardly anybody there at this time of day. The ruins were beautiful, sculpted buildings with a blue tint and tree roots wrapping around the columns and blocks, a very magical place.
But it was getting dark and the guard told us we had a 12 Km cycle back into town with no light on the road or on the bikes. So, again, we cycled like bats out of hell as the sun sank over the horizon. We arrived back at the Angkor Wat moat just in time to see this:
And eventually we arrived back in the hotel where we had the most amazingly refreshing night time swim ever taken by man!