Wednesday, July 19, 2017

July 17 – Angkor Wat

Yesterday we hired our airport mini-bus driver Bross to take us to Angkor Wat today, as his rate was reasonable $40 for the entire day for all eight of us. We had an early breakfast, served up by the ever-smiling hotel staff, and were on our way to Angkor by 8 am.

The driver told us that there had been some sort of ownership change at the park, or organizational change, and as a result the ticket prices had gone up. The one day pass that was $20 three years ago was now $37, but kids under the age of 12 still got in for free. The better deal was the three day pass at $67 but we all agreed that one day would probably be sufficient.

As this was our second visit to the park, we knew what to expect and probably did not experience the overwhelming sense of wonder we did when seeing it for the first time. Nevertheless, it was still amazing seeing it for the second time. The scale of the temples is massive, and the intricate carvings on millions of individual sandstone rocks seem simply impossible, yet there it is in front of you. For our first visit here three years ago we hired a tuk-tuk to take us around from temple to temple, but I am sure glad we got a mini-van this time as having a periodic break in an air conditioned space was welcome. We got lucky with the weather as it was overcast the entire day so were spared being scorched by the full force sun.

We visited four temples in total, and by the time we finished with the magnum opus Angkor Wat temple, the group was pretty much satisfied, so we had Bross take us back to the hotel. Like last time I’m reluctant to write too much about Angkor as I think it is a place that everybody who has the means to visit, should visit, as there is no other place like it on earth.

During our hotel chill down, Stella spent much of it feeding and playing with the five pet bunnies that were kept in a cage at the hotel. She even gave them names: Snowball, Ice, Lilly, Luna and Loner, and she commanded us to feed them at least one leaf every time we passed by the cage on the way up to our room. Oh, and we were instructed to check that their water bottle was filled too.

Before we knew it, we were back on Pub Street, wandering the streets, watching people and being asked every twenty seconds if we needed a tuk-tuk. We had a backpacker dinner of soup and fruit back in the hotel, so weren’t looking for a big meal, but we did have some snacks at one place, along with those excellent value fifty cent drafts, that you just never tire of.

We spent some time walking through the giant night market, and at one point I got distracted by a book vendor and fell behind the rest of the group. I was haggling with the owner on a counterfeit Vietnam Lonely Planet book that she was willing to sell for five bucks, but I just didn’t think I needed another book to carry around, as I still haven’t finished that damn Moby Dick that I brought with me, so I told her I was going to ask my wife first. As I was walking to catch up with my group, I passed by a classy joint called “Master Hand Massage” and was practically tackled to the ground by two ladies, or perhaps lady-boys, anxious to enlist me as a customer, assuming I was a lonely bachelor. I believe Tony had the same experience, because as I managed to slip away from them I looked ahead to see Tony looking back, laughing at me. When I reached the group half a block later, I started telling Ana about the Lonely Planet book and lo and behold, the vendor was standing right beside me holding the book up, smiling. Man, these people know how to make a sale! Yes, I bought it. How could I not?

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