Siem Reap Day 2 (22.06.2012): What a day - filled with highs and lows. Alas we could not drag ourselves up in time for sunrise. We awoke refreshed at 7:40, packed our bags for the day and headed downstairs for breakfast. I had a breakfast burrito!
Afterwards we walked over the road and secured ourselves bikes for the day. We decided against the mountain bikes and opted for the cheapest ones costing $2 a day (double the guidebook price). We then set sail - destination Angkor Wat - 9km away. We had no gears and it was 35 degrees.
What an awesome sight that awaited us (minus some scaffolding - typical ah). Angkor Wat is the largest temple complex in the world. It is so atmospheric and awe inspiring. I recommend that it is on everyone's 'to do' list. With one day only we were able to check out the main sites but really couldn't do the complex justice. We really wish we had longer and have considered altering travel plans but it would just cause too much hassle. We definitely see why they sell 7 day tickets!
The decoration on the temples is absolutely amazing. I can't even think to imagine how long it must all have taken. Every wall, column, ledge etc has intricate carvings. There are also monkeys surrounding the temples - some were very violent though and chased you down. We were constantly chased by random people (not sure if they or the monkeys were worse) selling things and shouted at all day. We couldn't even park our bikes as people claimed to own the space saying it 'free to park' but when you got back you could barely get your bike back without buying an overpriced drink from them.
We managed to check out: Angkor Wat (it measures 1.5 by 1.3km), Angkor Thom (the 'Great City' containing Bayon and Baphuon temples and also the location of many scenes from 'Lara Croft: Tomb Raider'), and Ta Prohm (our favourite).
Ta Prohm was described in our guidebook as 'the ultimate Indiana Jones fantasy' and it really is. The temple has been swallowed by the jungle and looks very much the same as it would have done when it was discovered. Nature has definitely conquered here with trees having torn down parts of the temple. The tree roots embrace the ruins and make for one of the most atmospheric sights I have ever seen.
At around 2pm I heard a mighty bang below me.. I thought 's*** I have gone over a landmine' (there are many landmines in Siem Reap). Nope a sharp rock had torn a mighty hole in my tyre. Thankfully we located a handy Thai man who had tools for such an occurrence. Well he had fire, tar and random parts of old tyres. Even he was shocked at the size and state of it. In England no-one would have even attempted to fix it - I needed a new tyre. The guy had a decent stab at it however and I was soon on my travels once again.
On the way back at 6pm however.. another almighty bang and the start of what would have been a very long walk home with extremely tired legs that had pedalled over 30km. 2km into the walk back a very nice tuk tuk driver agreed to put our bikes on the tuk tuk. I am still not sure how both of us and two bikes fitted on a tuk tuk. It was a squeeze but we did it. The tuk tuk driver drove us the last 7km charging us $3 which was probably high but we were so thankful we gave him $5 and it made his day. All in all the $2 bikes ended up costing $10 with the repairs and tuk tuk. Should we have opted for the more robust mountain bikes? Nah where's the fun in that?!
You could now do dot to dot on all the bites we have. We are both absolutely covered. We have just returned from Pub Street and the Night Market. We purchased two paintings at the night market today. Really not sure how we are going to carry them around! It's midnight. Early start tomorrow as we get the bus to Phnom Penh. There needs to be more time to sleep!!