A dubious way to transport a ladder in Phnom Penh
I spent 16 days in Cambodia and an average of $30 per day. I didn’t see too many places, just Banlung, Phnom Penh, Sihanoukville, and Siem Reap. The buses in southeast Asia were really wearing me down and I was concerned about my budget, so I decided to take it easy. I ended up spending more money than I had wanted to, though, mainly on the delicious western food I found near the beach.
I don’t have a burning desire to return to Cambodia. I found the people there to be a bit too aggressive and untrustworthy. It’s not that I felt unsafe there or like I’d be attacked, but rather that the people I encountered weren’t too concerned about my well-being and were always trying to rip me off. Also, the traffic was terrifying, especially when going for a bike ride.
I suppose if I do ever find myself in Cambodia again I’d like to explore more of the coast. I didn’t get to any of the islands or the smaller towns, and although the beach at Sihanoukville is beautiful, the town completely lacks culture and charm.
The Yank without a Chain posing at Ta Prohm
My final day of my tour of Angkor included the temples Ta Prohm and Preah Kahn, both famous for the magnificent trees and vines that grow amongst the ruins. These ruins are also where the Angelina Jolie movie Tomb Raider was filmed. You can definitely see why! It is truly striking to see how the trees have overtaken the sites and it’s a reminder of the power of nature over man. Unfortunately I didn’t get the timing quite right to take great pictures – early morning or late afternoon are best to avoid the sun, and of course I went between 11-2pm, probably the worst time!
Over my three days, I didn’t see quite as much of the Angkor Archaeological Park as I had anticipated, but after three days of biking around in the heat and surrounded by huge crowds of tourists, I was ready to move on! It takes a truly dedicated tourist to see more than 5 or 6 of the temples in three days.
The ruins of Banteay Srei in the Angkor Archaeological Park complex
On my second day visiting the Angkor Archaeological Park, I biked all the way from my hostel in Siem Reap to the ruins of Banteay Srei, nearly 40 km outside of town. It was New Year’s Eve and honestly it was the best way I could have finished out 2013, a year filled with adventures, learning, and growth.
The ruins of Banteay Srei are small but impressive with their well preserved and highly intricate carvings. Built in the 10th century, the ruins pre-date Angkor Wat by about 200 years and it’s believed the temple is dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva.