LANDMINE – BOOM!

Day 3
Sunday, 16 July 2006

Muscles aches due to yesterday’s climbing and hiking didn’t deter us from further raiding the temples on the third day. I am quite excited to see sun rise from Angkor Wat. We woke up a bit late, and took some time to get ready. I don’t understand why WY and Viv bothered to wear make up, considering the make up would go off when we sweat like pigs in the sun.

The sun that never rises in Angkor Wat

Chan waited for 15 minutes outside Red Piano. It was only 5.15 am (6.15 am Malaysian time) but we could see the sky was clearing fast. He drove his tuk tuk at top speed (50 km/hour) with the three of us holding tight to dear life, so that we would not miss the sun rise.

Again, the sun was not visible as it was a cloudy morning. Everything was rather dark. When we reached Angkor Wat, we could see many people already taking good spots to see the sun rise in all its splendor. There were a few photographers positioned themselves on a small pond of water lilies overlooking the Angkor Wat skyline. I guess they were disappointed as well.

We had American breakfast after we gave up waiting for the shy sun behind the clouds to appear. We went to Takeo. Looking at the flights of stairs, I didn’t want to go up; as my legs morphed into a jelly state, merely thinking about it. The steps were rather intimidating compared to the ones in Angkor Wat. I was conned into believing that the worst was over. (Angkor Wat? Bakheng?). I waited around for WY and Viv to check out the place while I lurked around Takeo looking for some good angle, but couldn’t find any. Maybe I was too exhausted from the night before.

Takeo

On the way to Ta Phrom, where Angelina Jolie shot her movie: Lara Croft, the Tomb Raider, Chan stop us at this Stone Bridge. He said, previously, there is a small river runneth over it, but now was all dried up. It looked familiar – like one of the scenes in Lord of the Rings? My sis commented that this place look fake.

Stone Bridge


At Ta Phrom (where the big tree roots are), it was really weird that we entered the temple from behind. I didn’t noticed this as everywhere look kinda same to me, till Viv and WY pointed it out. Forgive me for being ignorant. It is highly advisable to read about a place before you go, as it sure helps a lot. Don’t bother buying books on Siem Reap as you could get plenty of them here. Street peddlers including children sell books and guides at fraction of a cost. It was surprisingly of high quality. I bought one on Ancient Angkor by Michael Freeman and Claude Jacques and it was a really good guide book, which costs me only USD4.

Ta Phrom

Ta Phrom is also another interesting temple not to be missed. The winding three roots are century old and it is quite an impressive sight on how nature blended with man made structure. I guess in another few more years to come, probably the giant root would somehow destroy the structure. Most places are already in ruins and everywhere there were rubbles. Here, a local came to us without invitation and gave us some guides of places for photos. He offered to take pictures for us, but we refused out of security reason. What if he ran away with my camera? He looked like a cocaine junkie. Towards the end of the “tour”, I gave him USD2 for his assistance – but he demanded for USD5. I refused and later on, someone in uniform came chasing after him. I guess he was not supposed to be there and asked from tourists for money.

Banteay Kdei

After Ta Phrom, where I took the most photos, we went to Banteay Kdei. The sky had turned dark and we were glad that we were already inside the temple. Again, we entered from behind the temple. I wonder what’s wrong with our tuk tuk driver that he always placed us at the back entrance to walk to the front. It was a good idea anyway as the moment we were about to leave the temple, there were less people hogging nice spots to take pictures. We had a little picnic here while waiting for the drizzle to stop.

The rest of the temples, they are less impressive or perhaps, we felt somewhat templed out, after a marathon temple visits since yesterday. I think I should refrain from writing about them – I might even get their names wrong!! Nevertheless, here are some of the pics I took for the next 4 temples before we called it a day. At this point, I am already very confused and exhausted.

Taken by WY

Pre rup – since I didn’t want to make another ascend on the treacherous steps, I let WY had a go with my camera. She did pretty good. Pre-Rup, unlike other temples made of big rocks, this is made up of smaller laterite bricks. A good change of colors from the usual gloomy grey.

We decided to give East Mebon a miss as it looked like a Pre Rup miniature. I joked that, anyone wanna have dim sum, could drop by here for some. WY and Viv didn’t get my joke. Mee Bon at Jalan Ipoh? Famous for dim sum?

Ta Som – by the time I reached this temple, I sufferred from a fried brain by the scorching sun. Here are just some of the pics I took of Ta Som.

Neak Pean – there was supposed to be a pond here. But unfortunately, water has dried up. My camera ran out of battery while we were at Neak Pean. So, I didn’t manage to take many pics.

Preah Khan

At Preah Khan, Viv’s camera memory card ran out of space. I offered to lend mine to her since my camera battery went flat. Viv kept on reminding me that her camera is not that superb compared to mine and probably would not be able to take nice pictures. Here’s the proof that it is not the camera that counts, it all boils down to one’s skills. I like Preah Khan for its simplicity and many columns which are available to seal us from the scorching sun.

Altogether, we raided 7 temples (or maybe more? I lost track) in a day. It was quite exhausting even if I didn’t even climb some of the steps – which I think I should have. *slap myself for being such a lazy ass* I couldn’t really recall the names of the temples we visited that day. I think I am suffering from some temple phobia towards the end of the day.

After going to temples, I think I need some form of therapy – so we went shopping in Centre Market. Girls! Surprisingly, all our weariness went off the moment we set foot at Centre Market. Habis. We went on a shopping frenzy. So much for saying that we were at Siem Reap to witness the beauty of ancient temples and not for shopping. :-p We shopped till we drop.

Towards the end of the day, we wanted very much to reward ourselves a scrumptious dinner for walking so much in a day. We went to Temple Club. I was slightly apprehensive – when I see the word “Temple”. I was already phobic. It was a great dinner though, the Khmer curry was delicious! So was the egg plant with minced meat. While having dinner, we get to see some traditional dance. In fact, I think most restaurants and clubs have traditional dance to entertain guests while having dinner. Temple Club is not that expensive and the food is great, service is fast.

After dinner, we loitered a bit at Pub Street to scout for the cheapest beer around. Beers are offered as cheap as 20 cents up to 50 cents per mug. As we were approaching Molly Malone’s, we stumbled upon a group of beggars. In order not to be hassled by a group of beggars – if you give to one fella, the rest of the beggars would come to you, we decided not to give any money at all.

There was this irritating guy who had lost both his arms due to land mine – kept pestering us for money. He even followed us to cross the road to the point that we felt being harassed. I brushed him off. He actually touched my sleeves with his stumps and told me – “Hello? Land mine! Boom!!” I was very troubled with him harassing us to the point that I was all stressed out. I avoided eye contact with him and walked away quickly.

We settled at Why Not? which is near our guest house for some beers (actually we were trying to get rid of the landmine fella) – he still lurked outside the bar while we went inside. He even harassed a westerner who was sitting at the corridor for some money. He is really THAT irritating.

The cheap beer at Why not? (35 cents per mug) comes with popcorn. I didn’t have much appetite after the “Landmine! Boom!” incident. We finished our beer quickly before our blood got sucked dry by mosquitoes at the pub. Everywhere you go at night in Siem Reap, you would need mosquitoes repellent or perhaps, wear long pants.