From Toilet to Temple… And Back Again

The Temples at Angkor are world famous, a UNESCO world heritage site, the 8th wonder of the ancient world and it has long been a dream of mine to visit them. The site it’s self is large, contains many temples, a smattering of basic Cambodian restaurants, fruit and water stalls and the odd toilet facility… but more about that later.

Getting there – Assuming that you are staying in Siem Reap, there are limitless transport options to take you around the site including bicycle, tuk tuk, motorbike, taxi, tour bus and even a couple of elephants! The best way to decide which to take is to first decide your time and cost parameters. Tickets to Angkor are sold only at the official ticket booth located on the main road between the town and the temples, you can’t miss it. Your options are a one day ($20), a three day ($40) or a seven day pass ($60) which can be used on non-consecutive days within a relative time period of either one week or one month. We chose the three day ticket as we wanted to have a decent explore, we wanted to cycle and one day just wouldn’t be enough time.

Day 1 – Day one got off to a terrible start. We woke up at a leisurely hour and hired a couple of bicycles from the Green Town Guest House. Though just $1.50 for the day, after only half a kilometer these turned out to be unrideable. One had no brakes at all and a slow puncture while the other had a free-moving saddle, only one break and a wobbly wheel. Needless to say, we returned these, found some others at a near by travel agents for the same price and after a quick check and service we were finally on our way. By this time it was hot and smoggy. We got lost twice on the way but finally arrived at the ticket booth, quite sweaty, at about noon. We shelled out the $40 each for our tickets which included a terrible photograph of our faces on the side, got them punched with the date and followed the signs to Angkor. The plan was to ride the Grand Circuit (30km) but it was already gone midday and we didn’t want to rush so we went for the slightly more manageable Mini Circuit instead.Angkor Grand Circuit TourWe started with Bayon and went left round the circuit. We got two flat tires, didn’t make the sun set and got a ride home with the bicycle on the back of a moped. Read more here: ‘Pieb To The Rescue.’

Day 2 (round one) – Fittingly, day two had two beginnings. As we had missed the sunset the day before, the plan was to set off before dawn and watch the sunrise over Angkor. Unfortunately, none of our alarms went off and we woke up about ten minutes too late to make it there in time. Having already hurriedly got dressed and washed my face before making this decision, I laid in bed, wide awake for the next hour or so and resentfully watched the dawn break through the bedroom window while the rooster downstairs made absolutely sure that I wasn’t going to get any more sleep. As it happened, this turned out to be day one of Rich’s ongoing bout of traveler’s sickness so it became little more than a write off anyway. We hired a tuk tuk for the next day ($7.50 each) and set extra alarms just in case.

Day 2 (round two) – 5am arrived and this time we were up and ready. After an early-morning toilet stop, neither of us were feeling well. We decided to go ahead with our plans but were glad that we didn’t have to cycle. The tuk tuk whisked us through the entrance and straight to Angkor Wat in pitch darkness. (For more on this see: Sunrise over Angkor Wat) From here, the theme of the day became have a quick look around a temple, find nearest toilet, look round another temple, find nearest toilet and repeat. This was especially annoying as you had to pay $0.50 each time and the toilets at Angkor are few and far between. It has to be said, Rich deserves a medal for his valiant and persevering effort to complete the circuit which we finally did. 5am departure, 4pm return and we were knackered! Unfortunately we never made it there for a third day as being ill had really taken it’s toll on both of us however we definitely felt like we’d seen everything that we wanted to see.

The Highlights – Here are some of the highlights, in pictures.

Ta Phrom (The Toombraider Temple) was my ultimate favourite and definitely worth a visit. The trees here are amazing with roots like giant pythons disappearing into the rubble. It’s quite a big complex but watch out for the spiders!

There is intricate decoration, huge stoney faces, and surprises round every corner.

Including these! I definitely wasn’t a fan of the gruesome funnel web spiders! Ugh. 

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