I'd always wanted to go to Cambodia eversince I saw Angelina Jolie fight the ancient demons in the temple in first Tomb Raider movie. There's something about the magical feel of 2000 year old temples, ancient stone carvings and the huge 500 year old creepy trees that grew to gigantic proportions that always been the pull for me too to Cambodia. 

left: me and Mum at Angkor Wat sunrise

Mum had spent a month with my sister in England so on her way back, we decided that I'd meet her in Bangkok and we'd go to Cambodia, specially to Siem Reap in the north of Cambodia, together from Bangkok.  We organized a ‘Angkor Explorer' 4 day tour with Intrepid Journey where we had an amazing tour guide by the name of Vouern who met us at the airport with our own driver.  I would definitely recommend you take this option with Intrepid as it take so much hassle out of finding hotel, knowing which temples to go to, get driven around like queens and get to find out the indepth history of the area with your own personal tour guide.

Our travel crew, driver                Amazing carvings                    Angkor Wat                      Angkor Thom
and Vouern, best guide ever

We visited so many temples that I forget which is which!  Needless to say all were amazingly rich in history and chronicled by detailed carvings in stone all the times Siem Reap had been conquered by various religions from Hindu to Buddhism over its 2000 year history.  The highlights of the temples would have to be the technology back all those years ago that built the great Angkor Wat temple which is the best preserved of all the temples. And ofcourse Angor ... ie Tomb Raider temple defined by the huge trees and roots which weaved its way out of temple walls and buildings.

Siem Reap wasn't just about temples.  We did get out and had a drive in the countryside and took a boat to a very large inland lake where many Cambodians lived in a floating village.  They didn't just have floating houses but floating hospitals, schools and basketball court! 

A family the pimps together.                          Please a dollar                               Every space is used

One of the sad things I found about Cambodia in general was the poverty and how the parents would ‘pimp' out their children so they can get some money.  For example while we were on our boat at floating village, we'd get Mums and their children pulling up beside us asking for ‘a dollar'.  One family had a couple of pythons on their boat, the 3 year old had a small python and we could take a pic of him for a dollar.  Sad.  But we did give them a dollar.  

In other situations, kids would come up to us and say ‘ please a dollar' holding bunch of bananas or whatever.  Probably all the words these kids will know in English is ‘a dollar'.  You'd see a lot of kids selling necklaces, books, food etc at all the tourist spots and yep its all about the dollar.

Chicken anyone?                  Cheap eats
Siem Reap town was actually a lot more modern than I'd imagine but still very Asian, you know a lot of chaos, tuk tuks and motorbikes. We stayed in a nice 3 star hotel with air conditioning and great breakfast.  
As it's pretty much a tourist town everything was catered to tourist needs, there's even a ‘Pub Street' about 5min walk from our hotel which caters for all the tastes from around the world from English breakfast, coffee, pizzas, burgers and ofcourse traditional asian fare.  You could eat great street food for two for only $5. We also had traditional kmer food and paid only $10 for 3 courses.  What we didn't spend on food we spent on shopping and tips.  US currency is mainly used here and $1us is the normal tip from the doorman to the boat driver.

The freaky 500 yr
old tree
Angkor Wat and Siem Reap is a great place to visit if you wanted a more adventurous holiday off the beaten track...but still wanted the comforts of home.

But I don't think it would've been as interesting if we didn't have our great tour guide Sear Voeurn who had a wealth of knowledge about the history of the country and was able to explain it in great English. 

Vouern our super guide and Mum 

Cambodians don't make a great deal of money and rely a lot on the tourist $, so if you ever want to go to visit the amazing Angkor Wat, then I would definitely recommend you hire Voerun as your guide.  Just contact me for his details!

After Cambodia, we went back to Bangkok for more shopping and sightseeing but it wasn't half as interesting as Cambodia!!

Now I'm back from a great holiday and refreshed for another exciting year of body worshipping, in a temple I call the gym! 

Lisa, Go Figure
30 Jan 11

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