I could not help this musical reference title, I apologise, it was bound to happen sooner or later but I think I have had my fill of temples for a bit. Okay that might not be 100% true, I could look around these things for days as they totally fascinating and beautiful. They would be completely serene places if it was not for the mass of tourists and Cambodian people trying to sell you magnets, postcards, t-shirts, scarves and anything else they might want to offer you but you can learn to look past all of that.
So today started as an adventure, when I got into Siem Reap the tuc tuc driver who bought me in asked me if I needed transport around the temples and I thought yeah why not. Ela (the guys name) and I struck a deal so that he would come back for me today with a motorbike and I can sit on the back and he will drive me around the temples for the sum of 20 USD. He arrived before 08:00 as arranged although he did not bring me a helmet as I specifically requested (Mum you may want to stop reading here). Yes I got on the back of this guy’s motorbike, a guy I had no idea who he was or how good a rider he was, knowing I had never been on the back of a motorbike before and all this without a helmet. Let’s say that I had more than my fingers crossed. I told the guy to take it easy as it was my first time and he did, picking up speed slowly and never going crazy, although in all fairness his speedometer was not working so I have no idea how fast we were going.
It was turning out to be a really warm day, the temples are out in the National Park, you pay $20 USD for a one day pass which could feel a little rushed and it really all depends on how many temples you intend to see in that day. You can buy passes for more than one day if you want to take things at a more leisurely pace. You can definately feel the difference in heat as soon as the sun comes out though. I was sensible enough to wear long sleeves and long trousers mostly to keep the sun off but also you should not go into the temples with bare arms or legs but the sweat was pouring off me so water is a must and as a big tip coconut juice and flesh is a great way to replace lost salts and sugars as they contain natural electrolytes I believe.
We arrived at the first temple Angkor Wat safely and early, because I was on a bike we could weave around the large coaches holding up the traffic all the time I am hoping that I don’t die. I walk around this beautiful relic happy and thankful that I am alive at this point in time and faced with beauty and ancient architecture like this who wouldn’t be.
I spent about an hour round here, I will say that the temples (like almost all temples I have been to in Asia) do not really cater for people who are not good with stairs, you wander your way through the ancient halls stepping up and down in all sorts of ways. On the way out of the temple I see something that amuses me and wanted to share it with you. Don’t get me wrong here I am not intending this to be racist but sometimes Asian people do strange things. I saw a guy take a photo of his (I assume) girlfriend’ back with her iPhone just to show her how sweaty it was. I found this quite odd but highly amusing.
Ela rode me round to the next temple and again we agreed to meet at a point in he car park after I follow the path around three temples. First up is he Banyon temple, also known as Angkor Thom, thus was one of my favourites for sure, it’s carved heads giving you a real sense that some diety is watching over you. It was here that I got asked if someone can take a photo with me, I agreed on the condirion I could have the same photo, if this is going to become a thing I need to start charging.
I wandered the two other temples that I did not catch the name of but they were equally interesting before meeting up again with Ela so he could recommed something to eat. I ate the early lunch and then we rode round to the next temple Ta Promn, this one set quite deep into the jungle and has amazing trees growing around and out of the relics.
Ela took me round a few more temples all the time on the back of the bike, I was still scared but this is the thing about Asia they are a lot less concerned about safety than anywhere in the western world and maybe this makes them more careful, with the roads as chaotic as they are I doubt that statement to be true. You have to just embrace this and deal with it, I know I put my life at risk but only as much as I probably have every day of this trip (okay a bit more). If you fear everything then I get the feeling that you experience nothing and sometimes you just have to accept certain cultures no matter how you feel about them. The good news is that I survived and I get to live another day. This is one of those days that I will never forget like many more that have happened on this trip. One of those things I thought I would never see and yet there I was, surrounded by chattering Asian tourists consumed by taking photos and me in my own little world trying to soak up as much as possible and this is a reason for me to travel as much as I can in the future.