Day 11: Siem Reap

I was up early this morning, I think the habit of waking up to get on buses or go on trips is sticking.

Today the weather was beautiful! I had a breakfast of eggs, fruit and coffee in the open sided eating area then read more of my book under the sun.

After breakfast we set off to explore the city. First we went to Wat Bo Temple. It was hot so we wore t-shirts and shorts then hurriedly put some baggy trousers on over the top just round the corner, to cover up. Ther didn’t seem to be any other tourists in the grounds so we walked in tentatively. A few monks were coming out of one building and stared at us, whispering between themselves. We immediately got the feeling we weren’t supposed to be there, but TripAdvisor had it as a site of interest so kept out distance and quietly looked at the outside. The building was beautifully ornate, bright orange with gold detailing and plenty of trees surrounding it. There were a few buildings all similar looking, around a courtyard.

As I was taking photos a few more monks filed out of the building, all looking at giggling at us. One smiled, waved and said “hello!” Then he and his friends giggled between them. The boys were quite young – teenagers and acted as if girls were crazy aliens. They spend all day with other boys and aren’t allowed to touch girls, or even be directly handed something by them so they seemed to be being a little mischievous by calling out to us. It was sweet. As they gathered under the tree outside the building it looked like the perfect photo opportunity but felt a little intrusive so I didn’t get snapping, but took a little video panning across where they feature at the very end.

Once they had gathered they picked up bowls and made their way across the courtyard to pray and eat some food. They take their shoes off and go into a large hall where they pray and sing, then eat.

We wandered about the grounds and found older buildings which weren’t currently in use.

The grounds of the temples is massive and beautiful. I’m not entirely sure what the function of the pillars are if not just for decoration but they are beautiful and carry intricate carvings.

After wandering round we left. It was so hot we had to take our trousers off but there were more people around us than before and taking trousers off in a sacred area is more disrespectful than putting them on obviously so we dithered about trying to find somewhere suitable, which resulted in every single person watching us. Good job.

From there we walked into the town, it wasn’t far. We got a sugar cane drink on the way. I’m going to miss them! The centre of town was very touristy. Lots of tuc tucs, vendors, Irish pubs and other ghastly things. It’s good to see that part of Siem Reap and I picked up some souvenirs and got a drink on Pub Street.

We spotted Cambodian Dr.Who’s TARDIS.

Not much was happening market-wise on Market Street so we headed to the Royal Gardens. There were loads of Asian tourists with selfie sticks here, and people taking photos of the pagoda. Although apparently even here, strange English girl is more of a sight than that, so I was the subject of a few photos. Always makes me feel a little uncomfortable, which is why I refrain from doing the same to others.
The gardens were pretty but it was stinking hot and we wanted some shade so we moved on to the National Museum.

I love a good museum. I’m so boring. This museum was dedicated to the Khmer Civilisation – it’s kings, religions and reason for building Angkor, the ancient city. It was absolutely fascinating… Mostly.

I didn’t realise that it was built to worship Hinduism originally, not Buddhism. Hinduism and Buddhism merged in the Khmer Civilisation. The museum have detailed history of the progression of religions, the kings, mythology, art and costumes. However the distribution of information was slightly askew: very repetitive in some areas and leaving great holes in others. Some items had no explanation and some had the same repeatedly. It didn’t give a fantastic idea of what life was like, I could place myself there. But nevertheless it was fascinating and I’m glad I went before going to Angkor Wat itself, I have a greater background knowledge now.

We spent so long in the museum, probably 4 hours. There were lots of statues, archways and detailing taken from the temples. Carvings were stunningly intricate and lasted surprisingly long.

After the museum we went for some food, somewhere out of the main central area. The food was terrible though and we left unsatisfied. We went back to our guesthouse to get dinner and sort out tomorrow at Angkor Wat.

There were a few people hanging about and a cute Jack Russell puppy. We gave her a load of attention and chilled out, aiming for an early night. Long long day tomorrow!!


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