8 September – Siem Reap
Alarm goes off at 7.00am. On a Sunday! And we’re about to embark on a second day of visiting temples.
Seriously, what’s happened to me…..
Feeling okay, but a perhaps a little drained, we head out in search of breakfast. Our target food, partly because it was pretty good, and partly because it’s convenient, is a banh mi from our lady down the street.
As we get closer, the realisation that she’s not there this morning, hits us. Maybe because it’s just after 7.00am on a Sunday?????
We head round the corner and then down the street that we had lunch in yesterday. There’s a woman with a cart frying some kind of doughy finger looking things in oil. Seeing as there doesn’t seem to be too many other options in the vicinity, and seeing as they sort of look like they might be okay, we order two. And even if they’re not, then at 2000 Riel, (50 cents) they’re hardly going to break the bank.
And the taste?
Okay, but not great. Just all a bit too doughy.
Oh well, that can be crossed off the list, now. Not that it was ever on the list….
Starting to run out of time, we head back to the hotel. Poly, punctual as always, is already there.
Desperately requiring something to help wash down the remnants of the doughy fingers, we spot a guy over the road from the hotel doing some sort of juice. I’d noticed him the other day, and wondered what he actually did.
Quickly headed over, and yep, it’s juice. Orange, or grapefruit, or something.
He’s a really nice guy, and he seems really passionate about what he does. Actually, being passionate about juicing fruit sounds a bit over the top. Maybe let’s just say he’s proud of his product.
We decide to have one each; Poly declines our offer; and our very friendly juice man asks if we’d like it cold.
Seeing as there are very few drinks we have in this part of the world that are actually warm, we decide on cold, expecting our cup to be filled with ice.
He quickly disappears somewhere behind his juicer, and promptly returns with two small plastic bottles, about half the size of a standard water bottle.
Okay, not what I was expecting….
But they are cold, so they’ve obviously been in a fridge.
Receiving our drinks, I ask how much I owe him.
“$2.00 each”, he replies.
“No problem”, I respond, handing over the money, while looking at the size of the bottles, and then doing US dollar to Australian dollar conversions in my head.
I’m still struggling to work this out; I just can’t understand the differences in prices. And it’s not like we’re sitting in the middle of tourist central.
Oh well, at least the juice was nice….
Into Poly’s tuk tuk, and we’re on our way by 8.00am.
The sun is out, and it’s already pretty warm. But the openness of the tuk tuk makes it a very comfortable drive.
Into the park, a quick stop to get holes punched in our Angkor passes, and we’re on our way to Ta Prohm. The Tomb Raider temple, apparently. Doesn’t mean a great deal to me as I’ve not seen the movie, but Lisa seems to be all over it. As she always is when it comes to movies.
Now if they’d made a James Bond or a National Lampoons movie there, it would be a different story….
We get there about 8.30am, and yeah, wow. It’s all about the trees, which was about all I knew, and how they’re growing on, in, and around the temple itself.
While it ain’t no Bayon; it is very different; I love it.
I suppose one similarity it has with Bayon, is that there is so much going on. So many things to look at, so much character, and once again, it’s just the scale of what you’re looking at.
Yes, the blocks that either make up the temple buildings, or the ones that have fallen to the ground, as well as the carvings.
But then there’s the trees that are taking over the temple. They are huge, and I actually spend a fair chunk of my time trying to work out how both the buildings and the trees are still managing to remain standing.
It also presents another problem. How the hell do you photograph it!?
I can’t get far enough away to get everything in, and even if I do manage to, then you lose the character of the buildings themselves.
It’s so frustrating.
And if that little first world problem isn’t bad enough, I then have the issue of trying to take photos without other tourists in them. And that can be difficult. While the majority understand that we’re all there trying to achieve the same thing, and as such, will do the right thing and move away quickly once they have, there’s a certain number, all seemingly from the one country, that appear to just not care.
In fact, it’s almost like they go out of their way to impede what you’re trying to do.
Anyway, I should be used to that after seeing Hoi An again, two years ago…..
Willing the camera on to do what I know it, and I, can’t do, while also hoping for more tourist bus breakdowns, I don’t give up on the quest for that ‘lucky’ photo.
So far, pretty much all the photos annoy me, but maybe that’s just me.
Oh well, like restored statue heads, I guess something is better than nothing.
Back out to find Poly, and we’re quickly on the move to our next stop, Pre Rup. Poly feels the need to mention some rather steep steps that Pre Rup is known for. Fortunately, being only our second temple for the day, I’m not too concerned about what awaits.
Lisa on the other hand, when stairs get mentioned….
Oh well, if she arks up, she can stay with Poly at the tuk tuk.
We arrive around 9.30am, and before we even have a chance to look at these steps, we are hounded by little kids to buy their trinkets. This is rather surprising, as it never happened yesterday. In fact I never really noticed anyone selling such items yesterday. Were they not there? Or did they just leave us alone because we had a guide?
And because we are guide-less today, are we now fair game?
Hmmm, not sure. But geez, they don’t take no for an answer easily….
Into the temple, and yep, there’s those steps. And steep, they most certainly are.
I begin the climb, and Lisa actually follows. I think she was just trying to get away from those 8 year old touts out the front….
Clamber up, not wanting to stop as it would then be too hard to start again, and once at the top I get to shout ‘encouragement’ to Lisa. With some help from her hands, and looking slightly monkey-like, she eventually makes it.
The workout was worth it, as both the view of the grounds down below, as well as of the jungle off in the distance, is really interesting. That size and scale thing, again.
It’s now really heating up, and I think it’s amplified by standing in amongst all this stone, as well as the fact that we are now significantly closer to the sun after ascending those steps.
We head back down, slightly less elegantly than going up, and find Poly outside after politely declining the numerous trinket, book, and art sellers.
Safely in his tuk tuk, and welcoming the shade – but not for long, we arrive at East Mebon temple.
This one is known for its elephants, apparently, and while I don’t remember seeing too many elephants at the other temples, these temples are all starting to blend in with one another.
Maybe not ‘templed out’, quite yet, but I am struggling to retain what I’m seeing. Hopefully the camera’s memory is better than mine…..
Elephants and temple seen, in pretty quick time I might add, we’re soon on our way again. Next stop, behind several tourist buses, is Ta Som.
And it’s good. Impressive, even. Lots of character. Lots of charm. And I probably would have used a whole heap more words, and maybe even more exciting ones, if Ta Som was the first temple we’d seen.
But it’s not, and I think this is the point at which I realise I’m just about done.
To be honest, I’m actually pretty proud of myself that I lasted this long.
Back out to find Poly, which is now slightly more difficult as another wave of tourist buses arrive, and we once again have the wind in our faces. We discuss whether we call it a day, or go and see one more. Trying to be all grown up, I hide my temple-itis and let Lisa make the decision.
Yep, one more.
Fortunately, there’s a much needed toilet stop to be done beforehand. And while I don’t normally get too excited about toilet blocks, I did actually find the whole experience quite interesting.
Obviously very much required a change of scenery….
Relief, in two forms, attained, we headed off to our final temple, Preah Khan.
A bit of a walk to the main building, once again dealing with 8 year old trinket sellers, and trying to keep up with the changes in price as each polite ‘no thank you’ is given.
Persistent, they most certainly are.
To the temple itself, and I’m not sure what it is about it, but I like it.
It could just be that I know it’s the last one, and I’m subconsciously forcing myself to like it.
But I don’t think so.
I just found it really interesting to look at. It was also interesting to listen to a local, who appeared to be a police officer, helping a European couple with a few photos. As well as where to stand to take the best ones. Seemed a bit strange, but at the same time, he seemed quite genuine. We didn’t hang around to see how it all ended, though.
At the centre of the building, which now made sense after Poly’s instructions, we turned right and headed towards what we hoped was the correct exit.
It was, mainly because Lisa wasn’t in charge of directions, and we soon found Poly.
So now well and truly templed out, but very happy with the way that our last temple day had finished, we decided to call it a day. Rather than have lunch in one of the tourist places in the park, we headed back towards Siem Reap.
A quick stop as we entered Angkor Thom, from a different direction to yesterday, for some last minute photos, including a selfie with Poly.
Through Angkor Thom one final time; geez it’s big; and then out past Angkor Wat. Along with all the tourist buses. Could not imagine doing it that way…..
Eventually out of the park and on the road back to Siem Reap, while asking Poly for a recommendation for a place for lunch, in the hope that he will join us. We end up a few blocks from the hotel, and while he does join us, he only has a fruit juice. Seems he had eaten while we were temple-ing.
Lisa has a Green Mango salad, and I have Green Bean and Beef salad. Looks stunning, and looks like it should be healthy. Maybe a bit too healthy….
Lunch done, Poly dropped us back at the hotel, with the tentative plans of possibly taking us to APOPO tomorrow morning.
We said our goodbyes and headed upstairs for a recovery session. It had been a great morning, but the walking and climbing, as well as the heat, had taken its toll.
And the weather is one thing you should never underestimate. While September isn’t the hottest month, it can certainly impact what you are doing, and for how long you can do it.
Nap done, and while waiting for some rain to clear, a quick check of our emails. Surprisingly, and rather annoyingly, there’s one from Booking.com. Seems the hotel that we booked in Phnom Penh is closed for renovations and repairs. Booking.com has been kind enough to find an alternative for us, at a more expensive price of course, which we promptly decline.
A quick email to the hotel to check all is as Booking.com claims, and unfortunately, yes, it is confirmed.
We hardly ever use booking agents when reserving hotel rooms, much preferring to book directly with the hotel, but because I’d had trouble getting replies direct from the hotel, I’d reneged and ended up using an agent.
I’d spent ages researching various hotels, and there was no way I was going to start that again. Fortunately, a little spark somewhere deep in my brain kicked in, and I remembered my second choice was actually opposite the one we booked.
Google maps utilised, hotel name found and recalled, and booking promptly made at hotel choice number two.
Feeling more than a little pleased with myself at my remembering capabilities, we headed out for a walk even though it was still drizzling. Out on to our road and up towards the river, and as usual, politely declining the constant offers of tuk tuk services along the way. Over the river, and up to the right, and then in towards the main part of town. Not finding much, not that we were really looking for much, we eventually ended up back down by the river where the street vendors had set up.
Wanting a beer, but kind of thinking we should spend quality time together seeing as Lisa had actually wanted to come out with me, we found a juice guy near my beer lady from two days ago.
He finds us a seat and set about organising our drinks. Pineapple for me; probably didn’t need to mention that; and a passionfruit shake for Lisa. While it wasn’t beer, it was very, very good.
So good in fact, that we then shared a dragon fruit one between us, which was also good. But obviously not as good as the pineapple one.
I actually find dragon fruit interesting. Whenever I see it, I’m always drawn towards it. It’s very tropical looking, it’s a great colour, and because I never really see it in Melbourne, it has this mystique.
It seems to promise so much, but therein lies its problem. It never really delivers what I expect it to deliver. I just expect so much more from it, and instead it just leaves me feeling a bit, ‘really, is that it?’, and then thinking I’d probably prefer a kiwifruit, and why didn’t I just have pineapple.
Again, perhaps it’s just me….
Anyway, drinks well and truly enjoyed, along with the interaction with a couple of the vendor’s young kids. Was a lot of fun.
Drinks done, I pay our juice guy. $1 each, times three. Yep, $3 for almost more juice than two people can drink, and my mind races back to our small bottles of grapefruit, or bitter orange, juice from this morning.
Hmmm, just more to contemplate….
Back to the hotel to get some things sorted, and to drop Lisa off, and then back out in search of a beer. But not really searching anymore; have just wasted far too much time looking; as down by the river with the food carts is now my spot.
On the way I get a text. It’s my mobile phone provider telling me my calls have run out. Which I don’t really understand, seeing as the deal was 11 minutes of calls, and I haven’t actually made a call. Four or five texts, yes. As well as quite a few WhatsApp messages. But no calls.
Which I guess, seeing as I still have data, means I don’t really need calls.
Still, just a little annoying in case I really need to use that option.
On the other side of the river, phone issue almost, but not quite, forgotten about, and I find a BBQ guy with beer in his esky.
Chair quickly found, and beers and people watching begin. Including trying to work out what some of the things were that were being cooked on the BBQ. Seems to be some kind of mince meat?, which is wrapped in part of a banana leaf?, then cooked, before being unwrapped and put in a leaf of lettuce, together with herb leaves, and then dipped in some sort of sauce. Fish sauce perhaps?
Don’t know, but it was fun watching and trying to work it out.
Although, in hindsight, I probably should have just asked.
Couple of beers for a couple of dollars; half the price of this morning’s juice, – I will at some point give that up….maybe; and I headed back to my draught beer place, which I now know is called Jungle Bar.
Beer, as previously, is good and cold, and it was actually nice to watch a bit of the cricket on the television while chatting to an Aussie guy. And of course, because us Aussies don’t really seem to talk about much else, we talked about cricket and footy.
Back for a shower, and to pick up Lisa, and then just for a change, back across that river.
We settle, after Lisa finally makes up her mind, on the cart next to our juice guy from this afternoon. Lok Lak beef with onion, rice and green tomatoes, as well as a pork dish with the same, both ordered through the kids that we’d had some fun with earlier. They were just great kids.
Food was beautiful, beers were great, atmosphere and location was, once again, brilliant.
So much so, I actually feel sorry for those over in Pub Street.
While sitting there I received a message from Poly about our tentative plans for APOPO for tomorrow morning. Unfortunately something had come up, and he couldn’t get there until the afternoon. As we were not completely sure about what we were doing in the afternoon, we decided to give the possible visit a miss.
It was unfortunate that we missed out on a proper goodbye; although I do somewhat struggle with them; but if we ever find ourselves back in Siem Reap, we will make sure we make amends then. He truly is a lovely guy, and if you’re looking for a tuk tuk driver, we can highly recommend him.
We headed into town, and perhaps because we are creatures of habit, we found ourselves back at last night’s Mexican restaurant / Trinity’s cocktail bar.
Beers, cocktails, people watching, Khmer language lessons; same old, same old.
But very enjoyable.
Eventually time to call it a night, so we began the walk back.
Feeling good about the day we’d had, as well as the night, but now not feeling terribly good inside.
Past ‘our’ convenience store, which seems to have closed a little early tonight, into our street, and then upstairs to our room. That slight feeling of unwellness is still there, but refusing to acknowledge it, I grab one final beer and adjourn to the bed for the usual.
Halfway through the beer that feeling that I have makes me ponder something that I consider sacrilege. I’m not sure I can finish the beer, and, for a split second, I contemplate tipping the rest out.
Disgusted with myself, I push through.
Beer finally finished, right about the time I was, and it’s time for bed.
Less than a minute after laying down, and with that feeling becoming more noticeable, I come to the realisation that all is not well.
I fight the urge, but quickly realise that it’s not actually fightable, and make a rather hurried dash to the toilet.
It’s been years since I’ve thrown up, and I mean years! And as I’m leaning over the toilet, suspecting my good run is likely to end, all I can think about is Jerry Seinfeld after he ate the black and white cookie.
Strange what goes through your mind as your stomach muscles begin to do their thing.
And do their thing they did. And yep, it was as bad as I remember all those years ago.
Eventually things settle down, and I head back to bed. Lisa rather surprised, both at what had just happened, and also wondering how I can throw up so quietly, and me just a little concerned.
I guess we’ll know more in 15 minutes or so, if it’s a one off.
Back into bed, Lisa declining a kiss, it’s not long before we get the answer.
Yep, 10 minutes later it’s up for a repeat performance.
Cleaned up, feeling better, and really hoping that that’s it, I head back to bed.
This time I manage to actually fall asleep, which was good, but then that overwhelming urge wakes me up just 20 minutes later.
The third performance goes like the previous two, but there is now very little left that can be expelled.
Back to bed, hoping that might be it, but also more than a little concerned about how this is going to impact the next few days.
Hopefully the next time I think about it is not until tomorrow.