After a flight from Yangon, Myanmar to Bangkok,
Thailand, I caught a bus from there to the Thailand-Cambodia
border. On this bus I met an interesting American who runs a casino in Myanmar in
the "Golden Triangle," which is notorious for its opium trade. He seems
to be living here to get attractive young girlfriends as he said he couldn't
get a hot young girlfriend in the United States
at his age. Also on this bus I met two couples from England who were traveling together.
They seemed a bit nervous about the border crossing as there are apparently numerous
scams on the Cambodian side.
Despite the numerous scams in the area, most are fairly noticeable. If you follow
the blue signs in English directing people where to go to get to the border and
visa office it's easy to find your way... that and don't trust anyone other
than uniformed officers. It wasn't as bad as I heard, but an Australian man
there did lose his passport and a chunk of cash due to his unawareness.
The next scam we encountered was when the taxi driver tried to drop us (I shared
a taxi with a Canadian-German couple) off at a tuk-tuk stand so they could make
some money by bringing us to our hotels. I simply told the taxi driver that he agreed
to take us to our hotel and that if we got out of his taxi prior to our hotel he
wouldn't get any money. He was soon on the phone with our hotels and on the
Cambodia and Siem Reap got off to a poor start with the
taxi driver and once I arrived to my hotel they moved me to another hotel down the
street as they overbooked their rooms and everyone showed up today. They place they
moved me to was cheaper, but also a bit crumbier.
I got up at 4:30 and was on my free rental bike by 5:00, making it to Angkor by
5:30. Everything I read said you should get to Angkor Wat as early as possible to
see the sun rise and to beat the crowds. Well the sun wasn't up and the crowds
were already there so I stayed for only a bit and headed east. I moved that way
since everyone told me to go north first and the tour buses are probably moving
in that direction.
After a couple stops, I made my way to Ta Prohm, which is well known as the temple
where the trees are taking over the structure. It is here that you truly feel like
you're in a jungle as tree roots crawl up walls on all sides. It was extremely
impressive and quite large, keeping me here for over an hour just wondering around
as I also tried to find one tree, which is often photographed (the image at the
top of this page).
As I left Ta Prohm I noticed that the buses and tuk-tuks had multiplied. When I
arrive only one small bus was present and about 3-4 tuk-tuks. When I left there
were over 20 full sized buses and well over 30 tuk-tuks lining the road in both
directions. Here I bought some lunch, then headed over to the Victory Gate to relax
Once I entered Angkor Thom I saw the crowds along the stretch of the Terrace of
the Leper Kings and the Terrace of the Elephants so continued north to see the North
Gate. This area was very peaceful and I again just relaxed for about a half hour
before heading back into Angkor Thom to face the crowds.
Angkor Thom is very impressive as it is huge and has great details; here I spent
a good 2-3 hours with the highlight definitely being Bayon and the Terrace of the
I made it back to Angkor Wat to finish the day in Angkor. Oddly it was a lot less
busy at this time and so I took my time in the complex and made my way to the top
of it, where it was only me and two others enjoying the great views. Despite this,
I found Ta Prohm to be more impressive, perhaps just because it is more my interest.
On the way back to Siem Reap I grabbed a pineapple and bananas for a dollar, then
got caught in a downpour. Despite this, I made it to town where I indulged in a
fish spa (when fish eat the dead skin off of your feet) for two dollars per half
hour. After this, the scams again continued as my hotel began to tell me all sorts
of lies about transportation to Thailand and Bangkok. I
called them out on their lies, which made them blush and soon things got awkward,
so I headed back to my room for the night. Tomorrow I'm back off to Bangkok,
Continue the above trip to: