I was so excited to be seeing this magnificant place that despite my long tiring journey and beers with new friends, I was awake at 4am waiting for a Moto (tuk tuk) to take me to the temple.
Standing in the dark with a huge famous sillohette just across the water from me I made sure I savoured the memory. Crowds of people were lined along the waters edge, cameras at the ready waiting patiently in the early hours for the sun to rise from behind the temple and reveal its beauty. And it was beautiful.
Angkor Wat is now a world heritage site and so there was an entry fee of $20 for a 1 day pass. This gives you a ticket with your photo on and enables you to come and go as you please. Because the city of temples is so vast this is a welcome idea. If you pay a tuk tuk driver about $15 you hire him for the day and so for example you can see Angkor Wat at sunrise, walk around, go back to your hostel for lunch and then head back to see the other temples all at your leisure.
Angkor is one of the most important archaeological sites in Southeast Asia. It extends over approximately 400 square kilometres and although Angkor Wat is the most well known, there are many other amazing temples and structures to see. My favourite being the temples that have been overtaken by nature and the setting of a scene from Tomb Raider.
Cambodia is building itself back up following its difficult past and Siem Reap appears to be doing quite well. The awful roads I was once warned about are now easily accessible, although it is clear to see how easily the roads can flood, and the developing towns obviously thrive on tourism. The local people are so friendly, helpful and cheerful and I have instantly become very fond of them. There is still a lot of poverty and this is obvious from the amputees and children begging and selling. It is heartbreaking to see these adorable children who should be at school, sent onto the streets to earn money. A bracelet, a postcard an inscent stick, mean nothing to us but that couple of pence means a lot to them.
For 2 nights I stayed at Mad Monkey Hostel which was a great place to stay. In a good location, about 20 minute drive from Angkor Wat, on a main street and close to the bars! It was a lively hostel with clean dorms, a pool, a rooftop bar and was a constant party. Halloween was a fabulous night and it is amazing what costumes backpackers on a budget can create. My favourite was the ‘spring roll’. A girl wrapped herself in cling film and stuffed it with veg from the local market. Brilliant! I purchased some toy guns for $2, got some black tape from a room mate and went as Lara Croft. I was surprised at how much people liked my cheap & cheerful costume.
The hostel was fully booked on my third night and so I found another hostel around the corner. I had to pay for a private room and at an expensive $6 I had the privilage of no water whatsoever. I feel sorry for the person sitting next to me on this 6 hour bus journey to Phnom Penh!