Monday, May 2, 2011

Long Weekend? Let's go to ... Cambodia!

Well, how long does it take to have a look at the famous Angkor Wat? (Especially as we are not so far away here)

First we had to fly to Kuala Lumpur ... and then fly back over Kuala Terengganu to get to Cambodia!

The flight times left us needing an overnight / a few hours in a KL hotel. The "Tune" hotel is right in the airport, next to the LCCT - Low Cost Carriers Terminal. As we were flying Air Asia for both legs of the trip, this made it much easier and we wouldn't even have to switch terminals to go International.

The rooms are small - you can just squeeze around the edge of the bed - and you can pay extra for 12 hours of air conditioning, towels etc ... but it's a comfy bed, there are a couple of reasonable restaurants nearby, and you can walk or take a RM1 (30c) bus to the departure/arrival lounges.

We had to get up in the wee-small hours to catch our flight to Cambodia ... It was only a 2-hour flight, and on the way we had to turn our watches back which made it only 1 hour later when we arrived.

So we found ourselves in this 5-star hotel at the beginning of Friday, and as soon as we were settled, with most of the day still ahead of us, we thought we should get on out to have a look at the "Wat".

We asked at the front desk, and booked ourselves a car and driver ($37 US) and a guide ($37 US), and then we had to buy a pass to get into the whole temple area ($20 US each) - which really didn't seem too bad all up.

The hotel people kept plying us with icy hand towels and drinks, and we couldn't really fathom why ... until we went out to see the sights. We definitely chose the better part - an air-conditioned car - as we realised when we saw people on bicycles trying to do it on the cheap. It was a viciously hot day, quite humid and with a biting sun.

There were of course various other modes of transport available too.

As we appproached the gates of Angkor Thom - one of the many temples in the area - we got out of the car to walk past this row of statues and through the gates.

These smiling chappies are demons - on the other side of the road is a similar row of 'gods', and they are all lined up holding onto a massive serpent (with a head at each end).

So this is Angkhor Thom, the first one we visited.

The lying Buddha was still being worshipped despite lacking some parts.

All around the outside of this temple are these remarkable carvings. If you just glance at them, they seem like nothing much.

But taking a little time, and with a knowledgeable guide, they tell so many stories. They are full of interesting little details, and there are historical tales relating to each scene and sequence of scenes.

And then everywhere there are faces - many of them very large ...

... and pointing in every which direction.

As we drove to the next place we noticed this bridge that had collapsed under the growth of this tree - and yet it was the tree that still held it together.

We went to look at the next site - this one being where they filmed parts of "Tomb Raider" with Angelina Jolie.

The trees at this place are the most amazing part. The guide tried to describe each one as "this looks like a ..."

but I thought they were just so beautiful regardless.

Each one was destroying the brickwork, and yet holding the remains of it together still.

This one is a bit eel-like, scary big eel!

Each of the major temples is surrounded by a moat - makes it all look lovely and cool, but walking across this bridge area was sizzling hot!

Now we went across to the actual "Angkhor Wat".

There are a great many temples and other structures of all sizes in the area.

Everywhere there were red-faced, sweat-soaked tourists shuffling along in groups behind their various guides who burbled on in their various languages.

I'd had enough, and plonked myself down in a coolish spot while Peter and Pheng (our guide) went on to explore the rest of the Wat.

There are always lots of stairs to climb, and rennovations are going on everywhere.

I gather the whole place is still a functioning monastery (Buddhist).

Obviously for some people the whole thing is a very tactile experience ...

Our "tour" was booked until 4.30pm, but we assured Pheng we had had enough and wanted to return to the hotel.

Aaaaahhhh yes! The pool!

And having done all our essential sightseeing on the first day of our trip, that gave us a whole day by the pool before returning to Malaysia!

Sucking on a cool coconut. Yeah, it was a great weekend.

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