A Travellerspoint blog

Exploring the Buddha Tooth Temple and the town of Kandy

rain 22 °C

We clambered down our giant hill this morning in search of some cheap breakfast. It doesn't take long to walk into town from the hill where all the budget accommodation is and we found a tiny vegetarian place called Bagjis and Dosias. It was a little intimidating but we sat down and ordered something we had never tried off the menu on the wall. We both had masala Dosias and tea. The tea was sweet and delicious and first came a plate full of fried snacks. We didn't know what they were but we tried a couple and they were delicious. Next came two curry sauces and then two huge Dosias. They are like huge pancakes which are filled with curried potato, veg and spices and folded. There was no cutlery and it was an eat with your fingers place. In Sri Lanka you are meant to eat with your right hand only.... Obviously this proved to be a little difficult for us but we managed it and it was yummy. It was so big however Chelsea could only eat half of hers and felt bad leaving it.

It was heavily raining by this point and we had decided to visit the Sacred Buddha Tooth Temple. The main attraction within Kandy. The temple is sat next to the lake and is within fenced grounds. We entered the grounds through separate entrances, male and female and walked through a paved garden with several statues to the entrance to the temple itself. Here we had to leave our shoes and pay an entrance fee of Rs1000 each.

Steps led up into a big white building and we saw a kingfisher sat on the wall which was a treat.


Inside you walk through a highly decorated tunnel with vibrant wall paintings into and outside courtyard with the shrine room in the centre. Up the stairs is where the tooth is kept. You can't see it as it is kept inside boxes, inside a room but it is still packed full of people worshiping, sat on the floor. There is a sort of altar where people can leave offerings of fresh flowers. We had a look but didn't really feel right sightseeing in such a religious room so left to explore the rest of the buildings.


There was a room full of paintings describing the story of the tooth and then a two story museum with relics and offerings inside. The temple is good but not one of the most amazing we have ever seen. It is very significant to Buddhists and is one of the most sacred sights however we though it was a little overpriced for tourists. There is a tiered pricing system in Sri Lanka where tourists can sometimes pay fifty times more than Sri Lankan's to see the same sights. You do get a minidisc with your ticket though.....not that anyone has used a minidisc in ten years..... Or ever. The final straw for Liam was when we went to collect our shoes and the man said there was a mandatory tip required to collect them.


After the temple it was raining heavily so we caught a tuk-tuk back to our hotel and waited for the rain to subside. In the late afternoon we set off in search of wifi and headed back into town walking. About halfway down the hill the rain became torrential and we got totally drenched. We headed into a coffee shop dripping all over the posh polished floor and sat all afternoon drinking delicious coffee. For dinner we ducked into a local place and were ushered upstairs. Upstairs in places we have since found out they often have a different, more expensive menu. We ordered some food, regretting that we didn't insist on staying downstairs as it wasn't very good. But we know for next time. Kandy is a very religious place, beer is really expensive and things don't open too late so we had an early night, in our mosquito net, watching films.

On our last day in Kandy we wanted to explore the town a little more. It was pouring it down however but managed a walk into town without getting too wet. We went to a local eatery and Liam ate a biriyani while Chelsea ate a variety of different bite size snacks. Food is very cheap in Sri Lanka as long as you go in places the locals eat. We again were tried to be shown to a nicer room upstairs but we politely and firmly declined his persuasive attempts and sat downstairs with everyone else.

After brunch the rain had eased up so we called at a bake house and bought a piece of cake each and decided to walk around the lake. The lake is lovely, there is a lot of wildlife and we enjoyed spotting different things. There was some little wild turtles, some huge monitor lizards and lots of different birds and fish. At the other end there was a huge troop of monkeys that we were afraid to walk past but they scampered past us on a narrow footpath. After hiding under trees from the rain a few times and a long steep walk up the hill to our hotel when it came to dinner time we didn't want to make it all the way into town in the rain. There is a tiny place to eat halfway down the hill called no name restaurant which we had veg curry and rice and a big pot of tea to warm us up.

Kandy is beautifully green and lush and has some gorgeous views. The town is buzzing with people, places to eat and shops to look in and we have enjoyed experiencing it. Since it is in the hills though it has been rainy and even though apparently the temperature is more than twenty degrees we have been cold. We are excited to move on to somewhere hopefully warmer and see some more of Sri Lanka.

Posted by Chelsandliam 04:41 Archived in Sri Lanka Tagged sri_lanka kandy Comments (1)

Kandy, Our Cool Hilltop Retreat.

Negombo to Kandy by Bus

all seasons in one day 25 °C

We had decided to get the local bus from Negombo to Kandy and so checked out promptly and went for some breakfast at a small local restaurant. We were immediately approached by a tuk-tuk driver who had seen we had all our bags and we said no thank you, maybe later. He then hung around outside while we ate our breakfast impatiently. We got a tuk-tuk to the bus station in town and the whole way he tried to convince us to let him book us a train for 3000 Rs (£15) rather than get the bus which we had to politely decline more that ten times. At the bus station all the buses line up and the destinations are in Sri Lankan and English so it is easy. We easily found our bus to Kandy and a young man directed us to the back and put our big bags in. We found a seat and only had to wait around five minutes for it to set off. The are very regular, every half an hour all day and it cost is 143 Rs each ( about 75p) for the three to four hour journey. The bus is a basic local bus, absolutely packed out with people both sat and standing with all the windows open and music playing. It's not luxury but it is crazily cheap for the distance we did.

It was a hair raising journey and the driver was a maniac. He zoomed through the hills beeping his horn with the off and on rain blasting through the windows so we had to periodically open and close them all. It wasn't that bad though to be honest and we would recommend it to anyone off to Kandy. It wasn't at all intimidating being on a bus full of locals as we were worried it would be and it took around three and a half hours.

When we pulled up in Kandy we decided to get a tuk-tuk rather that walk the kilometre or so as we knew it was up hill. He quoted an extortionate rate for the couple of kilometres max but we bargained to a reasonable but still expensive 200Rs. Our first choice was McLeod guesthouse as it had awesome reviews but after enquiring they only had rooms over our budget. The tuk-tuk driver then quoted us double to take us a few more hundred metres to which we said no thank you we will walk and he threatened it was a further 3km which we knew it was not. We looked at our map and the lovely man from McLeod showed us a shortcut to some other places. We checked in at the next one down the hill, Highest View guesthouse for 2000 Rs a night.

Kandy is a hill station in the Sri Lankan mountains. It is a valley surrounded by lush green peaks and the view from our guesthouse is beautiful. In the centre of the town is a lake. After settling in we went for a drink upstairs and sat on a balcony admiring the views. In the distance you can see big mountains.


After relaxing and showering we were ready to explore and went out in the late afternoon. We walked down the steep hill to the lake and leisurely wandered around the lake and into town. The lake is man made but it is gorgeous and has a tiny island in the middle. The town comes off the north-western side of the lake and is in easy walking distance. The town is bustling and as we reached everyone was on their way home from work so the streets were manic. They were filled with people in a rush and we were a little overwhelmed as people greeted us hello and asked us where we were from. The roads are busy with cars and the streets are full of small shops selling all sorts. There are lots of cake and sweet shops and a lot of very small places to buy cheap eats, rotis and curries as well as some pubs, small places selling cheap beer with bars on the windows. We wandered around a lot and then went into a place that was full of locals called The Kandyan Muslim Hotel. It serves really cheap curries, rotis, rice, fried snacks and more and we both ordered curry and rotis and fresh lime sodas. It was delicious, Chelsea had potato curry for only 50Rs (25p) and Liam had chicken kottu, both with rotis for 20 Rs each. The lime juice was fresh and spiked with sugar syrup and was yummy.


Afterwards we walked past the shops, bought a piece of cake and wandered back around the lake at sunset.


We ended our first night in Kandy enjoying a Lion beer in our guesthouse cafe veranda and watching literally thousands of bats migrate over the skies towards the east. The valley was dark apart from the Buddah Tooth Temple which was lit up and we could hear the monks chanting from our veranda. We are planning on visiting the temple tomorrow.

Posted by Chelsandliam 03:52 Archived in Sri Lanka Tagged sri_lanka kandy negombo Comments (1)

Our first Impressions of Sri Lanka and Negombo

sunny 35 °C

After a traffic jammed ride to the airport in Bangkoks rain we arrived at the airport ready to leave Southeast Asia. We checked in with no problems and were through to departures waiting for our plane. Liam was extremely nervous as there was a thunder storm and he hates flying so a beer was in order before we boarded. In all the bars a can of beer was more that 100 baht which we just refused to pay so being the shameless budget travellers we are we bought two beers from duty free and sat in the lobby with our 37 baht cans watching the planes land.

When we boarded the plane we have no idea how but we had been upgraded. Our tickets clearly said Economy but our seat numbers indicated to those super plush posh seats you get at the front of the plane. A stewardess saw us looking confused and checked our tickets but by some miracle it was correct. We enjoyed our fully reclining seats, personal TV's, three course meal and wine and before we knew it we had landed in Colombo airport.

We had booked an airport transfer with our guesthouse as we know we landed late and waiting for us at the other end was a friendly gentleman with a plaque with Liam's name on. He sorted us out with an ATM and we were shown to a minivan which took us directly to our hotel. We were very apprehensive and the streets of Negombo at night looked scary. They were totally empty and lined with neon lights. There was no tourists in sight and when we arrived at our hotel and stepped out of the air condition van we were hit with warm air that was fragrant with spices. We are staying at Silver Sands Guest House for 2600 Rupees a night (roughly £13). We checked in and went straight to bed, ready to face the morning, still a little apprehensive and nervous.

On our first day in Sri Lanka we woke up and looked out over our balcony to where we could see the beach and sea. We were excited to see what was in store and went out for a late breakfast and an explore. Walking down the street we were greeted with many hellos and good mornings from the locals and we found a small place to eat across the street. We ordered a pot of tea and two Sri Lankan curries and rice, fish and chicken. When it came we were presented with several small bowls of different things which the friendly lady explained to us. There was a spicy coconut dish, called sambol, an aubergine curry, daal and our curries, served with small crispy popadoms and rice. It was totally delicious and 350 rupees each (less than £2).


After our feast we went for an explore. We walked down the road towards the town. All along the way people said hello and asked how we were and children waved. The local women wear beautiful saris. They go from the waist down to the floor and are worn with a sleeved belly top. A piece of fabric comes from the back of the skirt over their shoulder and fastens to the front skirt section coving their front stomach and lower back but exposing most of their midriff. They look beautiful. We saw no other tourists and enjoyed wandering the streets looking down the alleys at the faded, colourful houses. We walked to St Mary's Church, a huge cathedral like pink structure near town and then we were just too warm to go any further. We took a short cut down to the beach and walked back to our hotel.


Along the beach were clusters of boys playing cricket in patches of shade. They roared hello as we walked past. There were children fishing just with a line tied to a cola bottle and they successfully managed to catch a big fish with which they jumped up and down laughing. There were big sheets of plastic laid out with thousands of small fish drying in the sun and boats drying upside down on the sand. Down towards the town the beach is not picturesque but it is full of local life. The sea is very rough and the sand it littered with all sorts of bits of rubbish that huge black birds have carried around. When we made it back we were hot and Liam had burnt his face even though it was before the midday sun. We did some errands, replied to our emails and looked at where to stay in Kandy until it got a bit cooler. Our hotel has a lovely restaurant where you can see the sea and feel the breeze where we had a drink.


By late afternoon we were ready to head back out and this time walked the opposite way along the beach. The sun was starting to set and the beach was full of local people enjoying the cooler afternoon. Families were picnicking, boys were playing football and cricket and couples were courting. As we got further along the beach it was packed with people having fun, flying kites and relaxing and there were vendors selling popcorn, fried snack and ice creams. It was great and a welcoming atmosphere even though we were the only western tourists in sight. It all culminated at the sea break, a big pile of rocks that waves were crashing against and children were stood waiting for each wave to soak them through. There were lots of cars and buses parked and as we exited there was a sign for the beach park so we assume it is a leisure spot which locals like to enjoy on a Sunday afternoon. We absolutely loved walking amongst it all and we walked back to the guest house on the road to check out what was near us.


We had our evening meal at our guest house and had curry and rice. It came with the same plethora of side dishes, curried pumpkin, aubergine, coconut, daal, popadom, rice and curry and was again amazing. We shared a cold Lion beer and took another beer to our balcony to enjoy the night. The moon was having some sort of eclipse and we watched it get smaller and smaller until it was a tiny slither of light and then disappeared.

We have loved our first day of Sri Lanka and it has lived up to our high expectations. We can't wait to see more.

Posted by Chelsandliam 03:49 Archived in Sri Lanka Tagged sri_lanka negombo Comments (1)

Our Southeast Asian Top Fives

all seasons in one day 35 °C

Our Top Five Places in Southeast Asia

This was a hard top five to decide on and we could easily have done a top ten as there are so many great places to visit and beautiful things to see. After some disagreement these are our top five places we have visited whilst being in Southeast Asia for nine months.

1- Hoi An -Vietnam
There is no debating that Hoi An was our favourite place of our whole time in Southeast Asia and we both agree on it. It is a magical place, beautiful and traditional and so accessible to visitors. Everywhere you look is colonial architecture, sleepy rickshaw drivers and riverside living. The harbour is stunning, especially at night and there is so much to see and do for everyone. The food is amazing, the history is interesting, the fine white sand beach is close and the tailor made clothes and lanterns are a shopaholics dream. You can explore, cook, dive, relax, learn and shop to your hearts content no matter what budget you are on. It is want we imagined it to be and more and unlike some other places that are often talked about at home it does not disappoint.


2- Bagan -Myanmar
Bagan is hard to put into words how amazing it is. Even knowing before you go how vast it is doesn't prepare you for the sheer magnitude of the city. As you explore, however you decide to tackle it, everywhere you turn huge desert plains are littered with thousand of temples. Every horizon you look at is a succession of beautiful pointed silhouettes. The best thing however about Bagan is that, yes it is busy, and yes it is touristy but is it so big that no matter how busy the main temple are, as you explore the plains you are completely alone. You can ride for miles and not see another tourist and most of the smaller temples have no visitors. It is just an unimaginable experience which surpassed all of our expectations.


3- Penang - Malaysia
Penang is arguably the best overall island in Southeast Asia. The main town of Georgetown is a culturally rich colonial town, full of old shop houses, street art and quirky shops and guesthouses. It is a beautiful town to spend lazy days wandering through, and is full of things to do and see, little India being our highlight. As well as the town however Penang has it all. It has a clean white sand beach and a stunning national park all within an easy local bus ride from town and the rest can be reached in a day by hiring a motorcycle. To top it off it has some of the best food we have eaten. Street food and tiny local places are everywhere, the kinds of places with no English menu, just point to something that looks yummy the counter


4- Inle Lake - Myanmar
We didn't really know what to expect with Inle Lake but it is one of the most beautiful places we have visited. Touring the lake by boat is obviously a must for any visitor and the fishermen and local houses on the lake are a stunning sight. However the life around the lake is as beautiful and as interesting as the people that live on it. We would urge any visitor to either rent a bike or hire a rickshaw if you are not up to it to explore around the surrounding area of the lake as it is just as wonderful, if not more. The people are friendly and welcoming and the rural landscape is really just spectacular.


5 - Melaka
Melaka was our first destination after Singapore so we may be a little biased but we just loved the little town. It's old colonial shop houses and small cobbled streets have a charm that no where can live up to for us. The street food was delicious and abundant and the tiny local eateries with basic English menus were just great. It is so culturally diverse and Chinatown and Little India were just an explosion of smells, sights and textures that we just never imagined. It made a lasting and romantic impression on us that we will never forget.

Our Top Five Experiences of Southeast Asia

We have done so many amazing things on this trip but these are our highlights.

1- Safari Volunteer - Safari Park and Open Zoo Kanchanaburi, Thailand
This experience is a difficult one for us as it poses so many moral questions and raised so many emotions for us. There is no doubt that it is the best experience of our trip for us both but it was also one of the hardest. We spent a long time there, almost five months and since we only planned on spending five days it is obvious to anyone how much we wanted to stay. We will never disagree that the volunteers working there, including us care a lot about the animal welfare and the ongoing improvement of the condition of the zoo but we struggle with the moral aspects and the morality of interaction with wild animals, especially since we have left. There is a HUGE amount to still be done and a lot of educating about how it is acceptable to treat animals, the obvious thing being Blue a full grown tiger chained to a table. That being said we did some genuine good work to help and to improve the daily lives of the animals there and we truly believe that the manager does want to change. Not only this but we were fully immersed into Thai culture, speaking the language and building some lifelong friendships with the staff and their families. We taught English to the staff and the children for the five months and it was the most rewarding thing we have ever done, seeing the children learn a new language and became good at speaking English because of us. We think it is an unforgettable experience for anyone, even if you just have one week to spare, you can make a difference and do some hard work on your way through Kanchanaburi.


2- Scuba Diving - Cham Island Hoi An, Vietnam
It is a totally new experience for us both and one that we both thoroughly enjoyed. Breathing underwater for the first time was scary and amazing at the same time and the underwater world is like being on a different planet. Strange neon corals, colourful fish and and a sense of being utterly slow and relaxed yet adrenaline fuelled takes you to another world. We did our PADI Open Water course on Cham Island however the diving all over Southeast Asia is some of the best of the world, especially some of the Thai islands.

3- Cooking Courses
We have done a few cooking courses in Southeast Asia and every one has been great fun. Tamarind in Luang Prabang, Laos was outstanding, fun and professional and in a beautiful setting, however Giovan in Hoi, Vietnam was the opposite but still a highlight. It was fun and relaxed and a private lesson, more like being in someone's home kitchen but equally as worthwhile. Whichever country you visit we would recommend a cooking course. They are an insight into the culture, really fun and something you can take home to remind you of your trip.


4- Bagan by Horse and Cart
We never planned on doing this but after riding the bike so long our bums were too fragile to face another bicycle so we decided to rent a horse and cart. After doing so it was one of our favourite days in the whole nine months. It is like going back in time, the horse trotting through the sand, weaving between hundreds of temples either side. We toured some lesser known temples and were the only tourists in sights. It was a beautifully peaceful and fun experience and one we will never forget.


5- Cycling Inle Lake
This was another perfect day and an unmissable experience. The tiny roads have no-one on them and all you can see are the farmers fields and the mountains, it is stunning. We took a picnic to a lakeside village and sat on one of the piers in the afternoon. Locals walked past us saying hello and we shared our grapes with the local children. On the way back we called at the vineyard and watched the sun go down over a local bottle of wine.... It was picture perfect.

Our Top Five Foods of Southeast Asia

There was much disagreement on our top five foods, so much so that we have two lists as we just could not agree.... We suppose people just have different tastes.

Chelsea list

1- Papaya Salad - Thailand
A spicy salad of unripe papaya, tomatoes and green beans. It is fiery and fresh, full of lime, fish sauce and crushed peanuts..... Chelsea mouth is watering just thinking about it.


2- Masaman Thai Curry
A subtle coconut curry filled with meat and potatoes and served with rice. It is rich comfort food, creamy and filling.

3- Bun Cha - Vietnam
Grilled pork patties (sort of like tiny burgers) served in a soup of braised and BBQ'd pork. Served with pickles, rice noodles, salad, crab spring rolls and a plethora of sides, garlic, chillies and more. A hearty and delicious meal.


4- Laab - Laos
A spicy salad of minced buffalo and herbs. Really fiery and fragrant, salted with fish sauce and full of mint and coriander. It is served with salad leaves and sicky rice which you ball us and scoop up the meat with your hands. Mmmmmm


5- Cau Lau - Hoi An, Vietnam
Blanched firm noodles and bean sprouts are eaten in a bowl mixed with herbs and salad leaves to form a warm salad. It is garnished with slices of succulent roast pork and crispy pork skin. Cheap and utterly yummy.


Liam's List

1- Khao Soi - Chang Mai, Thailand
Firm noodles and braised chicken are served in a curried noodle soup and topped with crispy noodles. It is a spicy yellow curry flavour only found in Northern Thailand.

2- Bun Cha - Vietmam

3- Masaman Thai Curry

4- Cau Lao

5- Thai Green Curry
A fragrant Thai curry filled with aniseed flavoured Thai basil, egg plant, green chillies and lemongrass. Normally with braised chicken or pork and served with rice it is a Thai staple and every establishment has their own tasty version.

Our Pros and Cons of Visiting Southeast Asia

Cons of Southeast Asia

1- The hassle and conning you get in tourist places
Almost every tourist destination has its share of people trying to con you. On the street, outside and inside attractions, at bus stations and in shops. Just be aware, don't let it ruin your experience and don't let it tar your your impression of Southeast Asian people. Some places have more hard core hassles that's others. In Vietnam for example sunglasses salesmen will literally chase and follow you for a sale even if you show them you are already wearing sunglasses on you face.

2- Litter
There is no denying that the whole region has a major problem with litter and with the eduction that surrounds littering and the environment. A lot of natural wonders and beautiful beaches have the obligatory piles of litter and the streets are more often that not always lined with it.

3- Traffic
Try to embrace the crazy traffic as a defining feature of Southeast Asia rather than a negative. All towns and cities in the region have mental traffic, monoxide pumping buses, motorbikes piled high with everything you can possibly imagine, from livestock to mattresses and tuk-tuks zooming in and out of them all creating clouds of smoke and dust. Crossing the roads can be an experience, especially in Vietnam but just go for it.


4- The Treatment of Animals
Now we are not just saying this because we worked at the Safari Park for so long where obvious animal welfare issues needed to be tackled daily but all across the region there is a lack of education and a willingness to treat animals badly. No matter what country we have been to we have seen it. Birds locked in tiny cages, squirrels chained to men's pockets and hundreds of abandoned street dogs and cats. We have seen markets full of animals for sale, puppies, hedgehogs, fish, birds, rodents and kittens crammed into tiny glass boxes. We have seen children beating a puppy for fun and adults stood watching and laughing. The street dogs seem to be the most gentle and loving kinds in our opinion which is why we find it hard to look at.


5- Mosquitos
Obviously this is avoidable by wearing long sleeves and trousers or wearing repellant and not really an issue but we couldn't think of a fifth so here it is. The mozzies are relentless and in some places so big it hurts when then bite. Be aware of malaria and dengue and protect yourself.

Pros of Southeast Asia

1- Natural Beauty
There are some truly beautiful natural wonders to see in the region and no matter which country you visit there will be some amazing sights. The paddy fields, mountains, and countryside is lovely to cycle through and the beaches and islands are stunning. Even under the sea scuba or snorkelling is often a beautiful sight and the sunsets are the best we have ever seen.


2- Food
The food in every country in the region is exceptional and different and no matter where you go you will be in for a culinary delight. It is packed full of bold flavours and we have found the best food is on the street or in tiny local eateries with no menus. Just go in, sit down and often they will just bring you a plate of whatever they specialise in. To top it all off the food is cheap. What more could anyone want.


3- Cheap
Southeast Asia is undoubtably affordable for any budget. You can find places to stay for next to nothing especially if you don't mind dorm rooms. We even saw a few places that were free if you took a handful of flyers to hand out. Even for decent rooms like we have normally gone for you can stay for as little as two or three pounds a night. Our room budget is maximum £10 for ninety nine percent of our trip we have stayed well under that. The food is cheap and if you catch local transport it is often pennies.

4- Culture
For anyone interested in local culture, architecture and history Southeast Asia will not disappoint. Every place we have been is teaming with history. There are enough temples to satisfy anyone and colonial towns, and historical sights are aplenty.


5- Ease
Before leaving for our trip we were extremely nervous about the general prospect of travelling through a region we had never even been close to. How will we find somewhere to sleep without booking ahead? How will we possibly know what bus to catch? How can we order from a menu in another language? All these worries were for nothing. Traveling and living in the region is easy. There have been millions before us and will be millions after and even if you don't have the faintest idea there is always a kind local willing to help. Even in Myanmar, a relatively new country with regards to tourism all the amenities you may ever want as a traveller are already there.

Southeast Asia is an amazing destination and when we look back we feel incredibly lucky to have seen and done some of the things we have over the past nine months. It is a destination suitable for all. It doesn't matter what budget you are on or your circumstances. We have friends travelling alone, friends travelling with children and have seen people traveling here for years and people who do it all in six weeks.

It was weird to leave after it has been our home for so long but now we are ready for our next leg.... South Asia, Sri Lanka and hopefully South India.

Posted by Chelsandliam 03:30 Tagged southeast_asia Comments (5)

Exploring the Temples of Angkor Part II

sunny 38 °C

After our day of rest , yesterday we woke up fresh and planned another day at the temples. Our one main goal was to see the sunset over the temples, and after the difficulty of the first day, we decided not to cycle through the midday heat. With a couple of hours to pass until it started to cool, we had a slow brunch and then went to a café for a rare treat of cake and a coffee. The café is called the Blue Pumpkin, and it is without a doubt the best cake we have had since leaving the UK.

By this time it was approaching 2 o clock and we set off on our bikes, leaving at this time gave us 4 hours until sunset to see some more temples and we avoided the worst of the heat. Cycling there was a lot easier, even though today we cycled a lot further, we have done around 30km in total.

Our route we planned took us around the other side of Angkor Wat to the previous day, taking us past some smaller temples and then entering Ankgor Thom from the opposite side so we could continue where we left off. Our first stop of the day was a temple called Banteay Kdei.


It is significantly smaller than Angkor Wat and the temples with Angkor Thom but it was very interesting. Most of the temple is ruins, and you navigate narrow corridors defined by old columns covered in engravings. The deeper you go into the temple the more dilapidated it is until you practically are walking over crumbed walls.

Next on our list was Ta Prohm, a temple Chelsea in particular has been looking forward to. Pulling up to the temple entrance after another short cycle was a shock. There were dozens of vendors yelling at us from all directions 'you want cold water sir', and we were ambushed by kids selling books and bracelets. We kept our heads down, repeated no thank you, quickly chained our bikes up and jumped into the sanctuary of the temple grounds. Ta Prohm is again a temple mostly in ruins, the attraction of this temple are the trees, huge trees that have been growing for hundreds of years and have slowly swallowed up the temple.


The trees grow through walls, across doorways over alters and huge tree routes climb down the walls to reach the earth. It is hard to do justice to the sheer scale of it.


It is a vast complex with no clear defined route so we wandered rather aimlessly round, every turn we came across more of these epic trees. We were inside for almost an hour, and it has been our favourite temple of the whole site. Angkor Wat is obviously special but we expected it to be special having read so much about it, the sights and scale Ta Prohm were an incredible surprise to us.


Our final stop before the sunset was returning to the ancient city of Angkor Thom, another few km cycle brought us in from a different entrance to our first visit and we carried on from where we left off. We viewed the Terrace of the Elephants, a very long narrow stone terrace engraved with dozens of elephants, and a battle scene. After we viewed the Terrace of the Leaper King next door, so called because of an apparent statue that sits on top that has the appearance of leprosy. We could not find it. We did however see vast walls with ornate engravings of demons, and other mythological creatures.

By this point it was approaching 5pm and we still had to cycle back to Angkor Wat for sunset. We decided to be in the grounds of Angkor Wat and although the sun does not set behind the temple, it does set behind the large gate entrance, We sat in the grounds for about an hour, resting our aching legs, watching the sun set and the sky change over Angkor Wat itself.


The ride back to Siem Reap was in the dark, which was a little more harrowing but we made it safe and sound. When we did get back, we found our hotel with no power, so had to get showered and changed out of our very sweaty clothes by candlelight. We were soon out again, having not eaten from lunch and settled for 'Pub Street' a street of bars, restaurants, and thousands of Tuk Tuk drivers. We had a great night to end a great day and woke up this morning with slightly foggy head.

We have decided not to use our free day of entry into Angkor, we have seen everything we set out to, and we are keen not be templed out. We are very happy to have finally seen it, and it is the perfect final attraction for us of South East Asia. Tomorrow we have booked a bus to Bangkok and have a couple of nights there to prepare for Sri Lanka.

Posted by Chelsandliam 02:37 Archived in Cambodia Tagged cambodia angkor_wat Comments (2)

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