Apr 3 11

Templed-out!

by Emily Benjamin

We arrived in Siem Reap late from Phnom Penh, and after a 6 hour bus ride we were exhausted. Fortunately we had arranged to be collected by our hotel, Motherhome Guesthouse, and we were greeted by Mr Michael and his shiny new tuk tuk. Off to the hotel we go!

The hotel was fantastic. Number 1 on TripAdvisor and with good reason. It is the same price as most of the others around it – only $18 – but far better value. And I can say that with confidence, because when they ran out of rooms for us after two nights, we checked out three other options all within the same price bracket, but none of them came close to the service, hospitality and inclusions offered by Motherhome. But enough of that, I’ll save my gushing for Trip Advisor!

Before bed we felt energetic enough to book 3 days of temple trekking, based on a detailed itinerary offered by the hotel. Jamie Talbot has been waiting to visit Angkor Wat for almost 2 decades. Yes, he is that old! A game he played as a little tyke had Angkor Wat in the background, and ever since then he wanted to visit this historic site. NOT because of Angelina Jolie in Tomb Raider, ¬†or so he says…

Over the three days we visited as much of Angkor Archaeological Park as we could possibly handle. Angkor Thom, Angkor Wat, Preah Khan, Neak Pean, Pre Rup – to be honest I can’t remember which one is which anymore, but Jamie Talbot does, so check with him! It’s not that they weren’t all very different – in fact they each had something unique about them, whether it was the Buddism or Brahmism influences, the size, the shape, or the number of towers. But in seeing maybe 20 temples in 3 days, I should be forgiven for forgetting the names!

The temples themselves were magnificent. It is really unbelievable that these buildings of sandstone, rock and laterite were built as early as the 9th century and have lasted over 1000 years. Even more surprising is that many of these temples, including the one we visited today, were only discovered within the past 100 years. The work that has been done to preserve this UNESCO World Heritage Site is outstanding, with many of the temples delicately restored to some of their natural glory, painting a clear picture of what awe-inspiring structures they must have been so many years ago.

This is where Jamie Talbot will probably excel – his written words are often far better than mine, and he’ll be able to use his words to convey just how beautiful and awe inspiring Angkor Wat was. Considering I can’t even remember the names of most of the temples we’ve seen, I think I best stick to photos and let them tell the story of our 3 days of temple trekking in Siem Reap. You can see what I saw here.

Now we have a day of rest in Siem Reap, where I might try to buy an iPod and we’ll get massages before a long bus ride to Bangkok. Then, two more sleeps in Thailand before we fly to Jordan on the 8th April. No more pho, khmer spices, spicy green curries and morning glory (minds out of the gutter people, morning glory is stir-fried water spinach!). Let’s see if my stomach can handle what the middle east is offering!

– Em :)

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