So basically was really only 2 reasons to visit Cambodia, firstly because we’d never been, and secondly for the Temples of Angkor Wat.
We had two days in Siem Reap which is in the North West of Cambodia and home to what is home to one of the world’s best heritage sights – The Temples of Angkor. We had hired a driver for $12 for the day t basically move us from one place to another and ferry us round the temples. They are spread across 40 square miles, but hank full all the best ones (depending on who you speak to) are within a 10 mile radius of each other.
We were knocked up at 0830 and our tuk tuk driver asked where first, I told him we needed tickets and so off he went. The ticket office is just South of Angkor and costs are $20 for one day, $40 for three days and $60 for a week for entrance to all the temples. The officials tried telling me I had to pay for the kids and when I told them I knew I didn’t they claimed only to be joking. I had taken their passports though just in case as children under 12 years are free. Lonely planet says you can walk from Siem Reap to Angkor, to be fair its absolute garbage, it was 34 degrees at 9am and took about 20 minutes in a tuk tuk, it would take about 2hrs in the blistering heat to walk it. When you can hire a driver for the full day for only $12 why bother. Additionally you can hire push bikes for $1 per day, foreigners are not allowed to rent scooters in Siem Reap but money talks and means much more than a law.
The temples of Angkor were built in the 12th century and are nestled across a huge area between a sparse tropical forest. The main Temple and the biggest is Angkor Wat – That was our first destination.
As we pulled up to the bridge over the square moat that surrounds Angkor Wat I knew it was going to be special and the kids were getting excited. But it wasn’t just special, it was breathtaking, probably the most beautiful structure I have ever seen. There are not words to describe Angkor Wat as nothing would do it the justice it deserves. I was everything we had hoped for and more. A huge 900 year old temple, it took us a good hour to look around. Think Tomb Raider (which actually was filmed at Angkor) and that is what you get.
From Angkor we went to the city of Bayon, a huge place full of temples and simply stunning architecture which was close to sending me blind. Now, as a kid I loved to explore and be free. Somewhere like Angkor for a kid is probably as close to heaven as they will ever get. So I told them that today was their day and they were in charge. I would follow as they explored, the only input I had was to point them in the direction of where our driver was waiting which sometimes was 1 or 2km away across ruins and temples and through forest.
They were in their element and both Abi and Charlie explored everything they could. They had me climbing huge 400ft high temples up steps that were near vertical, had me walking for miles in temples that were almost overgrown by trees and their roots and still found time to take us in secret underground 900 year old passages that we found.
Eventually we found loads of Elephants, the price to hire one was $15 for 3 hours. I tried getting him down but he was having none of it and to be honest was being a bit of a dick so we passed on them and continued our adventure. By now it was lunch time and I was covered in sweat and absolutely knackered. So we went for lunch, whilst sat eating I looked around and we were surrounded by ancient temples, tropical greenery and Monkeys. I almost had to pinch myself to remind me it wasn’t a dream!
After lunch we did more temples and finished the ‘mini circuit’ we were all absolutely knackered and headed straight for central Siem Reap for some tea. We found an awesome restaurant that was basically a BBQ at your table. Charlie had Alligator kebabs, Abi had chicken wings and I was munching on a burger, all washed down with a pint of beer for $0.50, a couple of dollars later and I was hammered, the kids went for a foot massage with Dr Fish (a fish foot massage) and it was the end to a great day.
The temples of Angkor not only lived up to their reputation but exceeded it a million times over and it probably will end up being one of the best days of our lives.