This trip virtually came out of the blue. I desperately needed an extension to my 90 days stay in Thailand, so what better way was to do a short trip abroad. I discussed this issue with Annie (my wife), and we decided to head off for Cambodia, being the most obvious country to go to. Angkor Wat, just happened to be our destination, being that we were both interested in history.

We travelled by coach to the border, and after the border, we continued on the tiresome journey to our destination. As expected we arrived late afternoon, which gave us enough time to get our bearings and to plan. Our accommodation was at the Angkor Pearl Hotel, highly recommended.

Angkor Pearl Hotel, the place we stayed at

Dinner was taken with high expectations of what tomorrow would deliver. We took it as a short break away, so we treated ourselves. Annie, couldn’t resist having a cocktail or two. More than one and she’s anybody’s.

Annie attempting to get drunk

The next day we set off for our tour. To be honest we simply didn’t know where to start. We knew that we needed passes to see the temples, but we’d not booked anything. We walked down to where all the tourist places were and if by chance we saw the perfect place. Angkor Cycling Tour down Taphul Road.

Angkor Cycle Tours – they were fantastic.

We paid the fee and waited for our guide to arrive. Thankfully, his English was very good. His tour was not just to see some of the World’s most famous temples, but also to take us through some of the stunning surrounding and forests and neighbourhoods. One of our first stops was at the corner of a moat that surrounded Angkor Wat.

Annie and I, enjoying the trip

We cycled to our first temple. We entered what looked like the Phnom Bakheng. The Angkor Wat has a number of entrances. It was strange to be somewhere that had been built in the late 9th Century.

The Phnom Bakheng

The walk around the large temple complex was in itself quite tiring. Being the top tourist attraction in Cambodia, the crowds had come out in force. Our guide kept us away from the main tourist parties. We managed to get a photograph of the central quincunx,  and the four smaller ones that represented the five peaks of the sacred Mount Meru.

The Angkor Wat and its five quincunx

As with all ancient architecture, it’s carved stone and their depictions that really count, and this temple complex certainly had some interesting ones. Our guide explained that in the picture below the stone in certain areas looked a different colour, even polished and that has come about by tourists rubbing their hands on the ladies breasts and face. Whether that is true or not I don’t know.

Dancing girls

We eventually left Angkor Wat by the south gate, with the face of the Devaraj (God King) Jayavarman VII.  At the side of the causeway, there are 154 stone sculptures, gods on the left and demons on the right. In this part of the temple complex, there are more Buddhist images than Hindu ones.

The South Gate of the Angkor Wat
Annie, the guide and myself.

We cycled on to the Bayon, which epitomizes the ‘lost civilisation,’ there are stone faces everywhere displaying every human emotion imaginable. We stood at the South-West side. What stood behind us looked more like a heap of rubble, but in amongst that were 54 towers and 216 stone sculptures. You felt like you were being watched.

The Bayon

To say that this was built around the 12th Century, it made you think how on earth they could construct it and how many lives were probably lost during all of that.

Carved faces everywhere.

The stone sculptures were very good considering the age. Below the windowsill, are the Devada (dancer) below could be either male or female.

A room with a view, decorated with Devada (dancers.)
Rubbing noses with the Buddha, a must for all tourists.

From there it was a long tricky cycle through the forest. Tree roots being the main obstacle. As both Annie and myself were both nature lovers our cycle kept getting disrupted by what we saw. Sometimes I was getting more out of the cycle than I was out of the temples, as it was those that we’d come to see.

Follow the leader, a cycle through the forest
A scenic view, not everything is man-made here.

We eventually cycled to Ta Prohm, which means Ancestor of Brahma. What makes this temple complex so evocative and memorable is the fact that some of the temple buildings are smothered by the roots of trees. Some scenes of the film Tomb Raider was shot here.

A strangler fig tree, better known as the Crocodile Tree
Another strangler fig tree. This is where Angelina Jolie appeared from the doorway in ‘Tomb Raider.’

We eventually headed back to the cycle hire place, happy that we’d been, I was happier that I’d been out cycling in Cambodia.

Back at the cycle hire place, with the guide and organiser.

That night everything returned to normal, we went out and as usual Annie could not resist having a cocktail or two, and as usual, she was, well, let’s say fresh.

Annie eager to drink her cocktail. I can’t really blame her.

We booked for the earliest bus back to Bangkok, and it was a good job that we did too, has it took me over three hours to get through immigration, as there were that many tourists heading for Thailand.