Monday, February 1, 2010

Siem Reap, and the Wats.. Part 1

I've always wanted to visit Siem Reap as it was a place of archeological discoveries, a la Tomb Raider Lara Croft Style.. and well.. a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Many friends have gone and rave about this place, and now that I got good company to go with, well.. hehe.. why not!!

So on the 29th January (Sat), I packed my bags and headed to the airport. Met up with BK, CW, AO, ET, WX and her BF there (only BK, CW, WS and I were going.. but we had a great sending off group with us). Checked in and decided to eat lunch at BK.. Burger King, as after all, it was BK's namesake food.. ok la, tasted the same as usual. It's a fastfood chain anyway.. :)

Chatted until it was time to go in and off we went. Got some CR2 batteries for my D70... (forgo the pana waterproof cam this time as I'm suppose to be a jap-ish tourist this trip) and BK bought a Choya for our goodnite sleep drink. OK.. boarding time.. went to the boarding area and off we went to Siem Reap.

The flight was short and had some inflight meal.. whoa.. super full already.. standard airfare food. At about 2 hrs + later.. finally arrived at Siem Reap airport and alighted the plane..
Firist impression : HOT and HUMID!! the air was heavy and was sweating in no time. Passed the immigration without a hitch and and collected our bags. We are here!! YES YES YES!! Bought Kahlua as our morning drink as it was quite cheap, and soon met our cab driver outside.

We then went to the Hotel : Golden Temple Villa, which was a moderately cheap and clean hotel, in the middle of the small town itself, within walking distance to the eateries and convinience stores.
The roads in Siem Reap reminded me of Bangkok.. with it's Tuk Tuks flashing by and horns blaring all the time, but not as 'sophisticated' as Bangkok that has the rail line and mega shopping malls everywhere. The area was perpetually dusty, and ppl could be seen driving, riding bikes, bicycles and walking everywhere. The Tuk Tuks were different from Bangkok’s, being only a small little carriage pulled by a motorbike (think horse carriage with a motorbike). And well, as nicely put by the guys, the drivers horn so much that you'd think they can't survive on the road without one.

Well.. checked in, and shared a room with WX.. we got a room with a balcony.. well.. sorta balcony. The only thing separating 'our balcony' from the shared balcony next to ours was a flipdoor that says 'For room 72 only'.. err.. not the best way to keep the 'private' balcony discreet. But anyways, the room was clean and neat with cable TV and a DVD player.

So, checked in, rest a bit and off we were to hunt for food. We wanted to catch a traditional Cambodian dance at the same time, the Aspara dance at the same time, so with recommendations from the lobby ppl, we headed down to Pub Street for Temple Club. The food was... OK... not something to shout out aloud about, the dance was nice, (I somehow like Indochine cultural dances.. like trad Thai dances and all) but the dancers looked bored. At the end of it, took some pics of the dancers.. and headed back to the hotel for rest .... and Choya... and.... Zombieland. We made reservations at the counter to get a driver for the next 2 days to ferry us around, and since there were 5 of us, we hired a van. There were other options too.. like Tuk Tuk, cabs, cars, motorbikes .. and for those feeling more adventurous.. bicycles. yup.. even bumped into a cyclist who was cycling all around South East Asia.. super super cool.

The next day, we all started about ??.. early.. but not for the sunrise. We haven't gotten the ticket to get into Angkor itself, and well.. the sun will always rise tomorrow. Got ourselves a hefty breakfast at the restaurant in the hotel.. and the food was yummy. I opted for the more "angmoh" food as I wanted the fruit platter, and the baguette was just oh.. so good when it's fresh.

Met up with the driver.. same guy from yesterday.. and handed him the plan for today. He said alrite.. and off we went!!
First stop, the ticket counter. Here, we got ourselves 3-days passes that ensures unlimited entries to all the ruins in Angkor.. but we had to keep showing them to the guards who checked them. I don't really want to elaborate much on the archeological structure of each temple, but rather the things that striked me most and the things we did there. Most of the information can be wiki-ed :)... Anyways, after that, our first stop was at Banteay Srei, on the northeastern side of Angkor. Being the first temple of the whole visit.. this place was huge and we took time explaring it.. and snapping photos.. Here, we were introduced to the real Aspara sculptures, and they were beautiful, but not very detailed due to erosion. Nice place though.. and is really worth a visit.

Next, our guide brought us to a hush hush site where we were offered a chance to shoot from real guns.. and of course we said YES! It was an ?army training ground, that the locals turned into a business for the tourist. One glance at the wall.. and whoa.. a lot of guns/rifles/uzis.. we weren't very sure of what to try out, so we asked for the one with the least recoil, and we got hte AK-47 aka The Kalashnikov. The guys and I shot about 7-8 rounds each.. and it was fun! The target was the piece of paper far far away, about ?100m away.. but I doubt I got any points. I went first, and was scared of the recoil.. ok.. finger in the trigger, take aim.. and .... pull!!! The shot went off and .. wham.. smoke in the air.. shell on the ground.. and wow.. little recoil.. it was fun!!. Each of us took turns to fire and well.. it was an experience though I don't think I'll ever shoot a gun in real life.

The target... from far far

The baddie to shoot

(courtesy of RW)

to be continued....

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