Our bus to Siem Reap was tasking to say the least, but we have kind of gotten used to trips like these now, our motto is 'hey ho whatever'. Although we had really bummed out this time and were on the back row of the mini van with all the bags under our feet, the cambodian way of filling up a mini bus is to squeeze 4 people on each row of 3 seats, there is actually a warning in small print that if you want to be 'comfortable' then you can buy the extra seat, they actually try and make some people buy the extra seat if they are tall or over weight....ckeeky or what?!
When we arrived at the bus station we were literally bombarded with tuktuk drivers, they were hanging their arms in the window as the bus was still pulling up trying to get us to go with them. They all said $1, there had to be a catch and sure enough after the 5 minutes of waiting for our bags and chatting to one of the drivers he explained that he wanted us to book a tour with him for the next day, so we just said how much to town and nothing else, they didnt like that very much but we got where we needed to be.
It wasnt until 4 that we found a place to stay, more pricey than where we had just been but it is Siem Reap i guess. There is so much going on here, but in a really good way, not in a Bangkok in your face kind of way. Its really westernised which becomes quite relaxing when you have been in places that are not so. And it gets really exciting when you start seeing recognisable places like a KFC and Costa coffee. We have actually both said this is our favourite city so far. There is a big indoor market thats open during the day and then a big night market thats all lit up and really cool. They have a bar street too which is packed full of really cool funky places to eat and drink, bit over our budget though as we found out after paying £15 for a meal, may seem cheap back at home but when your travelling on a budget of £35 a day including accommodation then a £4 meal for two is way more up our street :)
We did a little shopping in the markets, Damo found this really cool laptop case thats made from recycled material and a little note book, we met a couple who kept track of their daily spending by writing it all down in a little book, well Mr Money Savey over here loved it and so we went on the hunt for a little pocket book, the only one we could find small enough was a glitterly blue one with gems on! it even had a matching pen but he drew the line at using the pen, he pretends he doesnt like the glitter but he loves it really, he loves getting out his little book and writing down it all down as we go along. I managed to get us a great deal on the two things, she started by saying the laptop case alone was $8 and the book $3, we ended up having both for $6, im such a mean haggeler, she looked like a I had broken her heart when she handed the stuff over but hey an extra $5 here and there all adds up to us skimpy travellers! (think i must have turned into Damo)
There are so many tuktuk drivers around town, you have someone asking if you need a tuktuk literally every 10 steps, i actually started counting how many times we got asked and had reached 30 by lunch time, it starts to get really annoying in the end because you are constantly saying no, but they dont take no for an answear they start telling you all the tours they do as you are walking past. Damian found a vest that says 'no tuktuk today or tomorrow' he wore it out yesterday but they obviously cant read it.
So on our second day we had met back up with a couple who we had just been with in Kratie, they are about a day behind us in travelling so we decided to all meet up to do the temple tours. Originally me and damo had thought we would do the temples over 3 days, you can buy a 1 day, 3 day and a 7 day pass to go and see all of them. The lady at our hotel organised the use of a tuktuk for a really cheap price split between the two couples, we decided in the end just to get a day ticket and see how we got on, we managed to see every temple bar 2 of the smaller ones all in the one day. Our driver drove us to each one and waited for us to go and look around before taking us to the next one. You can rent bikes to the temples and cycle around but we were so glad we didnt, it took a good 20 mins to get there and then it still took us about 9 hours to drive around the whoe place and see most of them. They are something special, Paul we thought of you all day and how much you would love it, its like your dream! The lady at out hotel lent us a book about all of the temples so Damo was telling us about each one as we went along. The most spectacular two for me where obviously Angkor Wat just because its such a famous one, and getting to take my own photo was really cool, and then Bayon, which is the one with all the faces carved out of the stone, just incredible, oh and then there was Ta Phonm which had all the trees crawling through all the walls which looked really cool and its also famous for being part of the Tomb Raider set. The only downside to the whole day was just the amount of people there, i guess its like that every day and some places were a lot worse than others just because they are the more famous ones. The tempe with the trees was radiculous, there was a big swarm of people (mainly Koreans) who were all clambering over the trees to get thier photo taken, i waited for about 10 minuets just to try and get a photo without some tourist striking a pose, i got one in the end but it was like dog eat dog trying to get the money shot.
All the way around the whole of Angkor city there are people selling food and drink, at the entrance to each temple you get about 10 ladys and children shouting 'want something to drink, cold drink?' they follow you too even after you have said no, there are tonnes of kids too trying to sell you bracelets, magnets and post cards, I asked one girl how old she was and she was only 6! i then asked why she wasnt at school and she said she goes in the afternoon, but I very much doubt it as there was still just as many kids in the afternoon as there was in the morning. It gets quite sad though when you see really tiny kids, there was one little girl who could only have been about 2 years old just standing in the entrance, all the Koreans were taking her photo and there was no parent to be seen, I watched one of the Koreans put a $1 bill in her hand and when they had all walked of the little girl wanderd over to some trees where her mum appeared and took the money off her, I guess that was her way of earning a living.
After 9 hours of temples we were rather glad we decided to cram it all onto one day, we are officially templed out, they recommend just for Angkor Wat alone a two day visit, not sure how you could spend that long there, once you have seen one part of the temple you have kind of seen it all, I probably should'nt say that it makes me sound really uninterested which i definatly wasnt and it was a really special day feeling like we were explorers discovering all these amazing things, but after 9 hours we felt satisfied we had seen enough.
We treated ourselves that evening to a mexican, and oh my gosh it was the best mexican ever! we had nachos, enchilladas, the whole works, it was like heaven in my mouth! just to have a different flavour to what we normally always have. Dont get me wrong the food out here is delicious and we dont ever seem to tire of it but when you do have something different you really enjoy it. We found this ice cream shop that sells these long tubes of ice cream, they are made out of corn and filled with a mr whippy style ice cream, they were really good. They have stalls here too that sell spiders, frogs, and snakes, they look like the jelly cable sweets you can get back at home, all curley on a stick....but no we havnt tried one and I know i definatly wont. One of our friends has said he may try one tonight and i think if he does then Damo will, but he's too chicken to on his own.
Damian finally got his hair cut, he lasted over a month but he could'nt cope longer than that and I couldnt cope looking at him! we saw a barbers with another white man and his girlfirend sat in there and his hair was looking ok so we went in. Everywhere else we have been in Thialand and in Laos all the barbers seem to just do a one style, short back and sides, but over here all the men have different styles and seem to like making an effort so we figured it was a safer bet getting it done here, and he did a really good job. When he had finished he started giving him a massage, but like a really hard fast wood chopping action along his shoulders, it was so funny because he wasnt expecting it and you could see the water in his eyes as this man was pounding away at his neck! The beard is still there though, think that ones going to stay, sorry Sam :)
Off to Battambang next, and then we will head over to Phnom Penh, we had wanted to go straight from Battambang to the south to finally get some beach time but we have just found out that although there are roads that go directly, only 95% are accessable by bus and the other 5% need a 4x4 because they are so bad, so its over to Phnom Penh first and then down south. I honestly think we are going to pass out when we finally see the sea, its been a long old journey and we are definatly feeling the need to get some beach time, but hey it still beats being home in the cold :)