Today was a day of luxury for me, no push bike but a hotel car with driver & an English speaking guide all to myself for the day. First we joined the thronging masses, more like Disneyland than an historic site, around the inner set of temples at Angkor Thon, climbing to the heady heights of Baphuon (whilst the guide rested at it’s base) then on to to the temple apparently made famous in the film Tomb Raider, Ta Prohm. We stopped for lunch at the very expensive and not very impressive Triple K restaurant ($4 for a coconut!). then after lunch it was a walk around the legendary Anghor Wat. Since it was still early I cajoled the pair into taking me down to Lake Sap to see the Vietnamese floating village with its tank of crocodiles & other emporia. On the way the guide wanted to show me his favourite silk shop, but silk at $45 a metre I quickly walked out.
On our return we got talking about massages & that everywhere so far the word massage equalled sex 🙁 He explained that wasn’t the case with a traditional Khmer massage so I ended up having a two hour prodding, pounding twisting, stretching session for $25 at Siem Reap Khmer Massage, more like a Daphne Pilate’s workout than one of Sally’s relaxing ones. Will be interesting to see if my heel is any different tomorrow, she certainly found the pain point in it!
A pretty full on day, a lot more expensive than my regular days. I’m not sure if the extra cost gains a lot more value & in fact I enjoyed my solo trip to Koh Ker just as much. What would be good is a trip with someone with a lot more knowledge especially why did they move from Hinduism to Buddhism. Speaking to the managers tonight & reading Wikipedia I managed to learn a bit more.
a couple of hundred photos are here 🙂 as an experiment I’ve added them to Flickr here using the F-Stop uploader. Terribly slow as I guess it’s uploading the full file size images 🙁
Once again it was going to be an early start & once again thwarted by the guest house owner! I ended up leaving at 6.19 sans breakfast except for two black bananas & water. It’s a real pleasure out at that time the air temperature is in the 20’s with a steady drum beat from some distant tannoy. All the kit was fully charged as the genny stayed on all night.
I eventually found some breakfast, although it entailed me going to the kitchen area & going through the motion with his wife, it turned out OK coupled with a few drink stops made it a good morning (although the Strava reveals it was mainly downhill). There were more plantations today and lots of people on their little pull along tractors, which look excruciatingly uncomfortable.
I took the back road shortcut to miss a chunk of Higway 6 and was rewarded with delightful villages surrounded by coconut trees. I stumbled upon a local Buddhist party whilst taking my pics a young girl came out and insisted I sat down then proceeded to bring enough food over to feed an army 🙁 I didn’t stay long as it was very hot & noisy in the marquee affair .
After a few more stops and drinks, I love rummaging around in their orange cold boxes, no electric around so they buy ice from a guy on his truck who cuts lumps of with a circular saw run from the vehicle genny.
I arrived in Siem Reap determined to find a good place to stay. I found the really grand Angkor Era five star hotel & went in to see what sort of deal I could wrangle 🙂 The girlies & their line manager couldn’t help with a deal so I went back outside & looked it up on booking.com who came back with a price that equalled 3 nights for the price of two 🙂 much to the previously mentioned folks surprise! So for less than most of the b&b’s on the SW Coast Path I’m in the lap of luxury for 3 nights. Plus internet up & down speed of greater than 10Mbps.
Tomorrow I splurged on a car/driver & English guide to show me around Angkor Wat etcc so the bike & its rider are having a 2 day rest before moving on to Thailand.
The Strava for todays is here:
and pics here
Todays wake up call at 5.30am were the neighbouring Buddhists chanting over their tannoy (how did religions get on before the invention of the outside loudspeaker – come to that are Tannoy still in business?).
I tried to get out but unfortunately the gate was locked and topped with razor wire. These folks take security seriously, all the windows are barred with 1” square section steel bars! Not made for easy escape from fires. Eventually after yelling HELLO up & down the corridors a man appeared & I was released into another very hot day.
The heat is really getting to me plus the long straight boring roads is not good 🙁 necessitating frequent stops for drinks also I notice, now, from the gps data it’s been quite a long shallow drag up hill.
At one of the stops a guy told me about the Koh Ker temple complex down the road, my eye was more trained on the pickup truck, wondering if I could hitch another lift, alas he started to fill it up with bags of charcoal they have made from the local felled trees.
I found the road to the complex and tried negotiating down the $10 entrance fee, to no avail. They said it was 1km down the road. Liars! it’s 8km which is a big difference in the heat. I sat, drinking my coconut, next to a guy who was acting as driver/translator/guide to a Canadian couple who were escaping the -30 temperatures in Toronto! He said there was a guest house near the ticket place which did food. So after a look round quite an amazing site, especially the racket from all the insects. I had some lunch and made by way back, taking in the other two sites. The tall buildings at Pram ? (Pram is Cambodian for 5) are clearly (to me) chimneys obviously for cremation, where I also had a chat to a Cambodian emigrant to the States who blamed Vietnam/China for all the countries woes.
I checked in at Mom Morokod Guesthouse totally whacked after only 49miles, only to find it has no electricity until the generator is started at sundown. Bit much for a place charging $12 a night. However, the food is good & I’ve booked breakfast for 6am so hopefully I can make Sien Reap before midday.
Today was an earlish start to get the first ferry across the Megong River which starts after 7 🙂
By the time I had breakfast at The Riverside Guest House Cafe and whinged about Room 1 and it’s tap that won’t turn off and the shower that is a dribble, I started to run late made worse by the crowded market & the banana seller with yellow ones been stuck in the middle. I finally made it & fortunate to get one with just two huge trucks. The crossing reminded me of my Danube trip although this river is nearly 2 miles wide.
I followed Oliver’s instructions & took the dirt road to the right passing the sign that proudly proclaims the new road was made possible with an investment from Steung Treng Mineral Joint Venture Company which begs the question what did they get in exchange..
The new road is deserted and quite bumpy due to its coarse tar & chipping coating plus you can only use half the road as the other half is deep in loose chip pings. Of course the few cars using it are all Top Gear viewers and treat it as a race track. Make sure you look away as you get blasted by high velocity chippings. Closer to Krong it’s still under construction so you enter almighty dust clouds.
The wholesale forest destruction is much worse here in fact around 95% of the wood is gone, just endless vistas of burnt out forest. The insanity of just burning standing timber is beyond me, meanwhile folks are building shacks from gorgeous hardwoods. Nothing is been planted in the vast majority of the burnt out mess.
The day was long, over 83 miles, and very hot to Preah Viher I managed to drink well over 4 litres of pop with barely a pee. With the heat I could barely keep awake so found an old workman’s shelter and had a snooze.
Later, when trying to read Gaia, I found I had lost my spectacles. I and an army of kids tried to find them but I bet they fell off in my snooze which was 10 miles back. To cap it off my spare set are useless for distance vision
There is plenty of accommodation in Preah Viher but I unfortunately chose the worst The Chea Somoun 🙁 but it’s only one night! Venturing out I chose the right restaurant though 🙂 because as I started the usual ordering antics with the waitress, a young women dashed over asked what I wanted in perfect English & proceeded to order my food! Len it turns out is showing a group around the indigenous tribes & obviously well up on the land rights issues as well as schooling, which is markedly less over here witness the kids doing the laundry by the village pump. Whereas, in Vietnam all you see are school kids. Real shame that she had to dash off with her group as it would have been good to learn more.
Tomorrow looks another long hard day to get to Siem Reap for Angkor Wat