Nearly two months have passed since my trip to Vietnam and Cambodia and I still haven't written about the majority of it. Part of the problem is the sheer number of pictures I took makes the idea of sorting and processing them pretty intimidating. I have so many pictures I want to share and a million stories to tell, but I'll try to keep it simple.
Just getting from Saigon to Siem Reap, the main city outside of the Angkor temples, was a crazy adventure (if anyone happens to run into Tony from Me Mates youth hostel in Phnom Penh, kick him in the balls for me. I'll explain later.) We had the better part of three days to explore the temples, but in truth two days is probably enough. If you have a guide with you it might take longer, but I thought three days was a bit long.
Step one for anyone checking out the temples is to hire a driver. We used a guy who hung out near our hotel named Sam Art and paid something like $20/day. He wasn't a guide or anything, just a guy with a tuk tuk. What's a tuk tuk you ask? Only the single most awesome means of transportation ever. Seriously, I freakin loved it. A tuk tuk is pretty much just a buggy strapped on to the back of a scooter, but you get the whole open air wind-in-your-face action as you cruise around. On a hot afternoon, it's awesome.
Banteay Srey is the farthest of the temples and is a bit of a haul to get to (not that you mind when you're riding in a tuk tuk!), but it's also the best preserved. I'm not sure if it's made of a harder type of stone, but the detail of the carvings are still in amazing condition.
Pre Rup is not one of the better known temples, but it was my favorite. Tall enough to be impressive, battered enough to remind just how old these temples are.
Ankor Thom is famous mostly for being huge. Personally, I wasn't that impressed, but maybe I had just seen too many temples at that point.
Ta Prohm is the temple that's known for having trees growing on top of it. Large parts of the structures have been supported with steel columns to keep them from collapsing and many parts are already in ruins. I would bet there won't be much left of the place ten years from now.
We went to see sunrise at Angkor Wat, which meant heading out at 5:00am, and managed to get one of the last spots in the front row. The actual sunrise itself wasn't very pretty, especially as it revealed all the ugly green netting where they are doing renovation work, but the view as it first started getting light out was great.
Around the back of Angkor Wat was a group of monkeys just hanging out and playing around. A few locals were selling bananas you could feed to them and one of them managed to get a lollipop from somewhere. The older monkeys could unpeel the bananas super fast, while the younger ones just kind of tore away at them. The last picture is a zoom-in of the picture before it and you can see the reflection of Angkor Wat in the monkey's eyes, which I thought is pretty cool.
Naturally I took a bunch of sunset pictures as well. We didn't have the greatest of sunsets the days we were there and often the sky was best in the opposite direction after the sun was already down.
While I can't speak for the rest of Cambodia, the Temples of Angkor were very cool and are definitely worth a stop for anyone making their way around SE Asia.
I've still got a few more destinations from our trip that need to be written about and hopefully I can have those up in the next few weeks.