Temples on Two Wheels: Angkor Wat in Siem Reap, Cambodia

Another amazing American breakfast is in our bellies at our $20 per night hotel when we set off to explore for our second day in Siem Reap. This day dawns bright and sunny, and believe it or not, not too unbearably hot. Right next to our hotel is a bike rental shop, and our plan is to bike to the temples around the big loop. Yesterday the tuk tuk driver brought us on the short loop.

Before we leave the hotel we tell the clerk that we want to buy tickets for the local slow riverboat that goes from Siem Reap to Battambang. He looks shocked, and attempts to discourage us. In broken English he tells us that the slow boat is for locals, and not tourists. It costs about $10 each to catch the boat so I plop down the money on the counter, the clerk makes a few phone calls, and soon enough we have reservations for the boat. He tells me that he will have the tickets in hand by evening.

The bike rental shop next door has pretty new Giant mountain bikes for $4 per day. Now, since we have a group of six we always try to negotiate a better deal, so we get the owner down to $3 per day per bike! Awesome! The deal is almost broken when the owner reveals that he lied and actually does not have a size large bicycle for David. I encourage him to at least try the size medium, and so it was that he sort of seems to fit the bike….in fact it is quite becoming on him. It is a bit crazy though, because traffic here is just as bad as Vietnam, and we are going to riding bicycles in that messy traffic with our kids. Doesn’t seem that smart, but we are all eager to do it. 
 As we make our way through town we see this sign posted by the hospital. Severe epidemic of dengue fever? You have got to be kidding me! Now that’s enough to put the fear of God into a person…..there’s no vaccine for that, and here we are in a severe epidemic area? By now David is convinced that he has dengue fever…..

I ask the clan if we can go back to my favorite temple, Ta Phrom, since yesterday when we were there it was raining and my photos were a bit lackluster. Everyone seems eager enough.

I do have to marvel at the size of the trees here in Cambodia. Of course we are from Arizona and trees are small there. Perhaps that makes it easier to impress me.   

And here it is, the wild root structures strangulating the temple walls.    

This wall here looks like it’s ready to topple over.

This young child is quite the artist. He takes these sheets of leather and chisels out these amazing designs.   

I think that the following pictures speak themselves to the absolute magnificence of this ancient and awe inspiring temple….no descriptions needed by myself.

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

It ends up being that once we leave the short tour loop the traffic thins out and it isn’t so bad. The weather is beautiful, there are no mosquitoes….the bikes are excellent to ride…..the kids are having a blast…..I am loving life…..I LOVE biking…..
   
Kristoff especially loves our bike tour!

  

We pass some Cambodian homes. There are two nice motorbikes in the driveway of this thatched hut.

This is a typical Cambodian home. The kitchen is downstairs and is open air. The upstairs has one bedroom and a small living area. There is an effort in the area to get the locals to learn how to manage their homes better, to grow crops to either us themselves or for resale. Apparently the local people have been selling their land off to investors for cheap and are losing their ability to self sustain. 

We continue the long tour. The weather is a bit warm, but we hydrate well and keep pushing on.

  
  

The bike rental dude told us that the bikes cost $300 and if we lose any we pay.  He gave us three cheap locks and sent us on our way.  When I asked how often bikes are stolen the answer was “never”! Even still we locked all six bikes together for extra security since they were probably the nicest bikes around.

The East Mebon temple has elephant statues, which we are surprised there are not more tributes to elephants, since they were used to haul all the heavy stones used in building these ancient complexes.

  

Aundrea is holding up the temple walls

I find the first stone carving of a male figure at one of the many temples we stop at on our bike tour. His feet seem unusually large, but I guess large feet were a sign of power in this culture. David would have made a great ruler with his large feet…..

  

We find this overgrown tree at the last temple that we visit, Preah Khan, at least I think that’s where it is. By now we have seen so many temples it is just a blur.    

We are quickly running out of daylight, so we step it up a notch. We are halfway around the long tour loop, and that puts us at about 15 km…..with 15 to go to get back to the hotel. We don’t want to be riding in the dark in crazy city traffic!

See, David does fit his bike okay….it’s actually kind of becoming on him….    

Annika is speedy Gonzales….she puts the pedal to the metal and keeps up the whole way. 
Monkey man…..    

Here you can see a simple stick propping up the stones in an entryway. I am not sure how effective that is.

  

The traffic is a bit different around here….motorbikes and cows….but we are getting really short on time. We ride hard and make it back to the bike shop with only minutes to spare to closing time. Tonight we decide to save money…..you know how in Vietnam people are in plastic chairs in the street…..well, we do it here in Cambodia. For only $1 each we get some delicious fried noodles with vegetables topped with a fried egg. Beats eating the fly infested meat from the market….eggs seem like a pretty safe alternative.

And again we top up with smoothies from our favorite smoothie lady….they are so delicious! Little did we know we won’t find such delicious fresh smoothies ever again….I wonder what her secret ingredients were.


It is pretty late by the time we get back to our hotel. I stop by the reception desk to inquire if our slow boat tickets have arrived. Sure enough they have, but instead of six tickets there are only five! I am alarmed! Really? Who gets to stay off the ride? The clerk assures me that the twins are 2 for the price of 1 because they are kids, and the way they do it by issuing only one ticket for two people. I am confused. Oh well, I am not very sure that sounds right, but I guess we will see in the morning. Maybe there won’t be enough room on the boat and we don’t have enough tickets….

 

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