Siem Reap & Angkor Wat

Getting There (and away)

We travelled overland from Bangkok to Siem Reap, gateway city to the Angkor Wat. Flights are stupid expensive and the other ways we looked at doing it were awkward, long, etc – especially since we wanted to get down to the Andaman coast afterwards which was easiest to reach by flying out of Bangkok.

Once that was decided, the intertubes had a lot to say about the various rip offs, hassles and problems we could expect. But while it took a full day in each direction, we saw some countryside and ultimately encountered what seemed, from the internets, to be an exactly normal level of rip off,. Particularly getting into Cambodia: an extra charge of 100 Thai Baht to get our Cambodian visa (unless you want to wait forever); the “free government shuttle” to the transportation centre miles away from anything where you can enjoy the slightly-frustrating process of securing a ride from to Siem Reap itself; being taken to a tourist shop and made to browse before being finally dropped at our hotel.

It was slightly easier getting back, though the bus from the Thai side of the border to Bangkok was stinking hot, not to mention slow. Then again, considering the distance travelled and price paid, we really couldn’t complain (or expect) too much.

Being There

More than usual, the pictures don’t really do our experience – let alone the temples themselves – any kind of justice. What can I say? It’s unreal to see these buildings, in various states of repair and ruin, rising up in the middle of the jungle (or nearly), even understanding that there were cities around them at the time. The contrast between that and even our tenuous grasp of Cambodia’s more recent history and the extreme poverty around us was hard on the head. And yet so many people we encountered were so genuinely warm. It was humbling.

I actually don’t have a whole lot more to say, really, especially since this post is pretty late coming (you don’t even get (m)any captions SORRY, internet here is painful). Except maybe that Siem Reap itself is a bizarre tourist town and I hope that we can be so lucky as to visit more of Cambodia in the future. Just maybe not in April when it’s 37C + humidity and walking around temples is both amazing and kind of punishing.

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