I booked myself onto a minibus tour to see the Temples of Ankor as it was so much cheaper and easier than the alternatives. The day did not start well. The bus was picking me up at 8am and at 7.30 I was stuck in my room as the doorlock was bust. After much twisting and turning and pushing and pulling I gave up and just began to rap loudly on the door in the hopes that someone would come to my aid! Eventually I heard a german voice saying " I vill get help from downstairs!" Someone did try it from the outside but to no further avail. Then they too disappeared! I tried the handle again myself and eventually the door opened. Cheap fixtures and fittings. Shoddy.
On the tour was an Australian girl called Belinda and an Italian couple so a nice small group. After lecturing us on the entire history of Cambodia for about 5 hours the guide led us to all the major and most visited sights in the area. We saw Ankor Thom and the Terrace of the Elephants and also (my favourite) Wat Phrom which is well known as the film set for Tomb Raider. Twisted trees have grown up and over the ruins and give it a really spooky appearance. We went to Ankor Wat which is enormous and resplendent. There is a lot of restoration work taking place there but what there is to see is wonderful - the most amazing wall carvings telling tales stories of Ankor life. Late afternoon we followed 7843 other people up to a temple on a hill which was meant to be THE place to view the sunset. LP described it as a circus and so it was. People were scrambling up these narrow steps in order to find a great viewing spot and by the time we got there it was packed. The sunset was mediocre to say the least and the whole event put me in mind of Henman hill. Then we all filed down again to join the traffic jam of coaches, taxis, tuktuks, minibuses, motorbikes and pushbikes back into Siem Reap. In the evening Belinda and I went to see a jolly film about Pol Pot (his funeral looked like preparations for Guy Fawkes night). Then we went for a foot and lower leg massage which was absolute bliss and by the end my legs felt totally revived. Whilst in town I also went for a foot massage by Dr Fish. Madness. It involves placing your feet in a paddling pool full of fish and letting them nibble away at all the dead skin. It tickled like I don't know what and all you can do is shriek and laugh. I had an insect bite at the time and they all went for that with great gusto. One woman thought all the fish would be dead in the morning as so many of them were feasting on her husband's left foot!
To be continued......
Continuation. So it was New year's Eve and they were partying in Siem Reap BIG time! Pub street was one street party with buffets laid out and firecrackers going off. Ii wandered around for a bit and sat and had a cocktail in a select bar then decided it really wasn't my thing and went off to bed by half eleven. I was awaken at about 12.15 by the sound of fireworks and thought for a moment that the Vietnamese were invading once again. Then the next time I woke it was about 7 a.m. and time to switch the tv on and watch the celebrations in London. Everyone looked rather cold standing there by the Thames. So I switched it off again. I decided to take a trip out to Banteay Srei, a temple a few miles out from the city and unfortunately Red was outside loitering with intent to get a fare. It was hard to find an excuse not to let him take me so I put up with him. The temple was lovely, beautifully preserved and with the best wall carvings I'd seen - reelly deeply grooved. It was a small place so it didn't take me long to look around. Then I went to the Mine museum close by. Khmer Rouge mines are still being discovered a and destroyed but the museum is full of photos of amputees. a sad place.
It felt strange to be leaving Asia after two months but it was time to go. The journey to Bangkok was not without the usual hitches. At one point I was abandoned with an American guy at the border crossing as the minibus was overbooked. Not so bad if they were honest about the situation but we were led to believe it was coming back for us having dropped the remaining passengers ot the coach stop. Well I'm afraid I had to get shirty in the end. That got them moving and we were put onto a tuktuk and taken to the next available bus. I finally got to my hotel in Bangkok at about 7pm! I had a lovely tour all around the city as the cab driver misheard what I'd said and took me to The Royal Princess Hotel instead. Good and posh. Mind you I was upgraded to a superior room in my hotel and it was so luxurious after the places I was used staying in. It was like a palace and this time I appreciated the sanitation and facilities. The room was HUGE and I just wandered around laughing for about ten minutes. Shame I didn't arrive earlier then I could have used the pool. I did go out for a stroll but it really was most peculiar as I seemed to be in the arab quarter. Folk were sitting around smoking hubba bubba pipes and there were kebabs for sale on all the street corners.
My trip to Asia ended the next morning and took me to the airport to begin another eventful journey - to Australia!