After exploring Bangkok, Rebecca and I took a nice long train ride to Aranyapathet, a Thai town at the border with Cambodia.
We had done some research, and we learned that a lot of tourists get scammed in these borderlands. Luckily we managed to avoid it.
After border we met a small gaggle of fellow North American travelers, and together the ten of us hired a mini-bus to drive us from the border to Siem Reap, the town closest to the ruins of Angkor Wat.
Now, I liked these other North Americans, but they came to Cambodia to party, so it was about 8 minutes in to the journey before they asked the driver to stop, so they could buy a couple grocery bags of beer. They shared some with Rebecca and I, which was nice, but of course everyone on board had to pee before too long.
The bus driver told us he “knew somebody”, and he took us to a random family’s house, and they (incredibly) didn’t mind 10 white people tromping into their bathroom.
We arrived in Siem Reap after a tipsy two-hour ride. The bus dropped us off right in front of Angkor Wonder, our hostel in town. Lovely owners, mediocre lodging.
It was perfect for us, though, because we could rent bikes nearby, and we rode them just a few miles north to one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen:
Angkor from afar
“Angkor Wat” is sort of a catch-all word for a slew of “Angkors” (which means ‘walled city’) in the area.
Angkor Wat is the most famous one that you’ve probably seen pictures of, and Angkor Thom is much larger, and I thought a little more interesting.
And doesn’t it just know it?
Angkor Wat also had more tourist-poaching salesmen, including a couple ballsy kids selling post-cards. One of them called me “Number One Liar” when I didn’t buy one.
One of Angkor Wat’s central spires, difficultly called “Quincunx” “Devatas” – guardian spirits
There’s a lot of stuff in the world I haven’t seen, but if Angkor Wat is the most impressive ancient wonder I ever see before I die, I will still count myself a lucky man. It’s amazing. Defies description. If you ever find yourself within 600 miles of it, you need to find a way to get there.
Rebecca and I explored the temples for two days, a little by bike but mostly by foot. Walking around these places left us a little dumbstruck, very dehydrated, very tired.
We didn’t have a lot of spare energy afterward to enjoy the Siem Reap nightlife, which was fine with us. Can’t recommend the day-life enough!