Monthly Archives: October 2016

Temples of Angkor

So much for keeping up with my blog,  but I have a good excuse this time. I was sitting on a beach with no WiFi for 5 days sleeping in hammocks and swimming with bioluminescent plankton on Koh Rong 🙂 rough life I know. So we’re going to roll it back a week to my tour of the temples of Angkor near Siem Reap on October 14th and 15th.

I flew into Siem Reap from Thailand on the 13th and promptly hit the ground running (or riding as it was). The temples of Angkor are world renown for their immense beauty and history so I wanted to be able to view them on my own time. I rented a $3 mountain bike with slicks and took to the road to battle the tuk-tuks, motor bikes and cars. It wasn’t too bad, even amidst the madness there is some method and it works. It was about 10km to the temples,  a nice warmup ride, and I quickly realized the advantage of the bike,  I could ride almost anywhere at my pace. I cruised my way around the main Angkor circuit in a long 9h day. Through the magical tree entombed halls of Ta Prohm, the ancient city of Preah Khan, the massive courtyards of Angkor Thom, the Mordor-esque towers of Bayon, and of course the grand palace of Angkor Wat. I will let my photos give you a glimpse into the amazing detail and say,  this is one of those places you need to experience for yourself. 

Temple of Ta Prohm being swallowed by nature.

Intricate carvings in Ta Prohm.

Preah Kahn’s entry gate over the old moat.

The Temple of Bayon, erie…

Wandering through Bayon, feels like one walked into Mordor.

While Angkor Wat gets all the press,  I personally fell in love with Ta Prohm and Preah Kahn. Two temple complexes where the battle between stone and nature has been raging for 1000 years,  and nature is winning. Definitely take a moment to sit down and soak in the grandeur of these massive stone monuments built over 1000 years ago.

The infamous Angkor Wat. Amazing as is reputation.

Detailed inscriptions for hundreds of meters. The lesser appreciated side of Angkor Wat.

Two monks relax in a window of Angkor Wat.

The sanctuary of Preah Koh, 1200 years old.

Nature slowly reclaiming a tower at Bakong.

The temple mountain of Bakong, standing tall after 1200 years.

On day two I took a shorter half day tour of the Roluos group of temples. While not as spectacular as the main temples at Angkor, their charm lies in their 1200 year old sandstone towers and intricate carvings.  Oh,  and you’ll see a fraction of the people as well. Unfortunately I didn’t make it to Banteay Srei but I did hear they were lovely,  just far away. So one of my bucket list items has been checked and it lived up to the hype. Next up (for the blog) wanderings in Cambodia and some much needed beach time. 

The Commercialization of Thailand

Well a lot has happened since I last wrote here and I am realizing that I really need to be better about taking some moments to kick back and put my thoughts into writing (or type). Let me start off by saying that Thailand was beautiful and I saw tons of amazing things, met some great people and enjoyed almost all of it…almost. The highlights for me were definitely the amazing street food (spuper cheap), lounging on Lamai beach, the boat trip to Ang Tong, the jungle excursion and night on Cheow Lan lake, trail running and night marketing in Chiang Mai. Now onto that ‘almost’ I mentioned above.

The true locals I met were all wonderful people, but sadly there seems to be so much tourism focused on extorting every last dollar it sometimes soured the experience. Shuttle bus rides that would randomly stop in the middle of no where to sell you a tour or some overpriced food,  boat piers hours from any public transport so you need to pay for the overpriced taxis, and half the guesthouses focused more on selling high priced tours than helping customers or heaven forbid helping you do something on your own. Just a few sour experiences in an otherwise wonderful country I guess.  Of course this is just my personal experience for my first time being in SE Asia and just traveling where I did. Maybe I didn’t get far enough off the beaten path or was looking in all the wrong places,  but that’s how it went. 

I will probably return to Thailand at some point with a new agenda and a new point of view. But only two days into Cambodia the people have been nothing but wonderful and the culture so warm and welcoming. I think I’m going to like it here. As always I’ll leave you with some photos from my travels around Thailand,  the next blog will be a photo heavy writeup on my tour of the Angkor temples and Siem Reap.

Monkeys of Khao Sok.

Boat tour on Cheow Lan Lake.

Tramping through the jungle, kind of on trail, or just in the river.

The cave was flooded so we went and bathed in a waterfall instead.

A quiet night lake side on Cheow Lan Lake.

Early morning kayak all by my lonesome on the lake.

Descending into coral cave.

Wandering the Chiang Mai night market

Took the long way via trail up to Doi suthep

Temple stairs hidden deep in the forest.

The lovely and ornate white temple

Giraffes and zebras! OK so it was the Singha Park zoo in Chiang Rai, but it was still cool.

Wandering the tea fields of Singha Park on my lay day in Thailand.

Finding One’s Way

Before my travels when someone asked what I was hoping to get out of this adventure I honestly didn’t have an answer. Maybe some adventure,  maybe some culture,  maybe some perspective?  Only a week into wandering SE Asia and I’m already starting to gain some insight on what this trip might mean,  though it’s constantly evolving.

This trip isn’t really about adventure,  though plenty will be had,  nor culture, though plenty will be experienced,  it’s about perspective.  Opening one’s  (my) eyes a little wider to that great big world around us,  not just to where I am at a given moment,  but to the people who occupy that space (locals and fellow travelers). Everyone had a story and lessons to share,  now I just need to get this introvert out of his shell to soak in as much as possible. Whether we like to admit it or not,  our personal bibles extend beyond our immediate surroundings and what we do and how we act effects those sometimes very far away. So for now,  here’s me going forward,  with my eyes and ears open to all the people and places that might come my way. Oh,  and a few pretty pictures to wrap things up. 

Democracy Square Taipei, Taiwan.

Temples Wat Pho in Bangkok, Thailand.

Temples of Ayutthaya, Thailand.

Lamai beach Koh Samui, Thailand.

Ang Thong National Marine Park, Koh Samui, Thailand.

Bua boke cave in Ang Thong National Park, Thailand.

Monkey! Just chilling on a remote island in the Gulf of Thailand.

Stay tuned for more.  Next up;  Khao Sok National Park, Chiang Mai and Cambodia.