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Entries in Cambodia (2)

The Sauna of Angkor Wat

1047435-831299-thumbnail.jpgYou have to be nuts to come to Cambodia in May. It’s hot. Sadly it did not stop the hordes of tourists from descending en masse onto the ancient temples regardless. At 100 degrees and 100% humidity you’re best off pretending you’re at a beautiful spa sitting in the sauna. Although, maybe Jason wouldn’t have had a “heat temper tantrum” if we were in one.

We opted for a private tour, which was probably the way to go. For $30 you get not just a car and driver but a separate English speaking guide. Add that to the $40/pp for the 3-day pass and you’re in temple nirvana for a mere $70. Unfortunately our guide Tea was a bit overly knowledgeable, ranting on and on about ever little “Bas Relief” depiction in the place. I kept waiting to hear “Bueller…. Bueller…” while I was dozing off.

1047435-831300-thumbnail.jpgThings got much better when Tea released us on our own to climb to the top of the central Angkor tower. I understand why he let us go solo on this part, since it was a straight up vertical climb of stairs. Getting up was no problem – the hard part was getting down. The “easy” way down using a railing had a line of about 200 people, and Jason and I had no patience for that. We decided we’d face our fears and eventually built up enough courage do descend the North West side as you can see in the video clip.

We thought a sunset over one of the temple complexes would be a great way to end the day. However, we got more of a hike up a mountain, and then had to jockey for room on the temple to watch the sunset go over the horizon. So, basically we were just sitting on the temple watching a sunset – cool in some ways, but not what we were looking for. The best part was Jason making friends with a monk – hmm, maybe that’s his real calling in life.

Forget Angkor Wat—It Is All About Angkor Thom

1047435-833223-thumbnail.jpgWhy we had never heard of this “Angkor” is beyond me – seems like Angkor Wat has undeservedly stolen the thunder of what I thought to be the most incredible temple I’ve seen yet on our travels.

The Temple of Many Faces was an absolute thrill to explore. Forget the fact there were way less people, being morning the temperature was much more tolerable, and that we ditched our verbose tour guide from yesterday - this temple was just much more interesting to look at. With the hundreds, maybe even thousands of faces carved out of stone seemingly staring straight at you, how could we not be enthralled!?!

“Ladeee, buy postcard, one dollah!” almost began to put me in a trance-like state hearing this over and over as we wandered around the temple area. It’s a heart-breaking site to see the young children that have been sent out by their parents beg for money – it was just so hard to know what to do. Repeatedly telling them “no thank you”, as politely as possible, usually did the trick. Luckily Jason had a piece of candy, which got one little munchkin off our heels.

We ended the day at the jungle temple, which was pretty neat. The branches and roots of trees have become intertwined with the structures here, and are really amazing to check out. Unfortunately the Asian tour groups had made it to this complex by the time we arrived, making it almost impossible to get a decent photo. They’re notorious for lining up in groups of 30 and hogging the photo opps! We did manage to get away from them by accidentally wandering into the “keep out” area. Bonus points to us for seeing hidden treasures.