We spent an amazing month in Cambodia, split almost entirely between three places; Ban Lung, where we relaxed while my eye recovered from its own near-death experience, Siam Reap, home of the incredible Angkor Archaeological Park, and Sihanoukville – which is where the beach is!
We were a little concerned that our bus to Siam Reap had ‘Ho Chi Minh City’ in Vietnam written on the side of it…
In Skuon, they eat spiders. Deep fried tarantula, to be exact. So, when in Skuon…
I only wish they’d shaved them first. All that leg hair doesn’t half stick in yer teef 🙂
Looking out over the disputed border between Thailand and Cambodia, from the temple of Preah Vihear (this bit didn’t make it into the book).
The walls around the Angkor Thom temple complex are so wide there are trees growing on them. You forget you’re on top of a wall.
Roo found plenty of picturesque places to perch, with the benevolent faces of the Bayon watching over her.
In the book I waffled on a bit about the scale of these temples. Here’s a good example – Roo is standing on the PLINTH, on which the Baphuon temple is built. This is just the base, remember… and it’s solid. With a temple on top.
Ta Phrom, the temple where Angelina Jolie filmed the first Tomb Raider movie.
This is a fantastic example of the reconstruction work that they do on places like Ta Phrom. EPIC improvement!!
The jungle has completely reclaimed the temple at Ta Phrom, and it’s a visually stunning place – bordering on creepy.
Such an extreme setting made it almost impossible to take a bad shot.
The only thing keeping me from exploring further into the jungle – sadly, the history of Cambodia is one of decades of civil war.
The causeway leading across the massive moat to Angkor Wat. I was so excited, I swear a little pee came out.
One of the first things you notice on entrance to Angkor Wat is the door-guardian beasts – specifically, how muscular their buttocks are. No, really!
There are mirror-lakes which form in front of Angkor Wat in the rainy season. Mirror-puddles may be a more appropriate description! But they are a favourite amongst photographers.
The lowest level of the temple is covered with bas-relief carvings – hundreds of metres of them. Still in perfect condition, they have been worn shiny – and black – by the rubbing of thousands of hands.
Up a level, and you enter a grassy courtyard, with the inner section of the temple towering above you. This is where we stopped for a break, sneaking out onto a ledge. If you look really closely at Roo, you might be able to tell that she’s eating her sandwiches…
See! With no crowds and no-one around, the perfect picnic stop is halfway up the walls of a thousand-year-old temple!
Placed anywhere else, this temple would be amazing. It’s massive, solid, in excellent condition… but in Angkor Wat, it is one of a matching pair, known as libraries, that sit in the outer courtyard between tiers of the main temple. They were so ‘ordinary’ by comparison that I think Roo and I were the only people who even bothered to go into them!
After we came out of the central part of Angkor Wat, it was closed for a rather camp-looking religious ceremony.
Beng Mealea was my favourite of the Angkor-era temples by far. It was a complete ruin – which meant we could CLIMB ALL OVER IT! Well, no-one tried to stop us, at any rate.
The ruined nature of the place, combined with the encroaching jungle, gave it such a delicious ‘undiscovered’ atmosphere.
If this was in England… well, there is absolutely zero chance anyone would be allowed anywhere near the place! Much less left to roam and climb it at will.
Trees and vines grew through the middle of the ruins, much like in Ta Phrom. Only here… yes okay, I climbed EVERYTHING! I’ll stop talking about it now, I promise.
Oh, except to say… well, I climbed this bit, too 🙂
The kids who lived near Beng Mealea, and played around the ruins, were cute as hell – and hilarious, as they followed us like a flock of birds, only with hands out instead of mouths. “Cheap, cheap, cheap!”
The smallest, most cramped sleeper bus of all! To be honest, I was kind of glad it was our last.
Our last week in Cambodia was spent in a hotel near the beach. We hardly went to the beach though, because a) we had a pool, and b) this is what the weather was like…
We did make a few brave attempts to hit the beach though – mostly because Roo was determined to go home with a tan! Unsurprisingly, she wasn’t very successful…
This has to be my favourite mode of transport from the whole trip! A homemade chop job, we never saw them anywhere else. But HOW cute!?
On our last evening at the beach, we were finally rewarded with a bit of good weather. Too late to work on our tan, but perfect for Roo to practice her sunset photography.
Almost the last thing I did in Cambodia was get my hair cut. Roo had made a bit of a mess of it, and I didn’t want to pay Perth prices to fix it. This guy was certainly cheap – and I got a lot more than I bargained for! The perfect end to our adventure.