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Malaysia and Cambodia


This is about my upcoming trip to Malaysia and Cambodia. The first part is pre-trip - information about flights, itineraries, accommodation and all the things that you need to do to plan an overseas holiday. This is my first trip to Asia and I hope it may help others. Comments are very welcome and anyone who has travelled to Malaysia and/or Cambodia, please feel free to comment and offer any advice or tips that you think would be helpful. As of today ( 28th February) , in exactly 11 days (minus 30 minutes) I will be in Kuala Lumpur.

I had the most amazing time and hope you enjoy reading about my trip. Each post is numbered and I'm doing them in order from start to finish - a little like a diary.



51. Temples - Phnom Bakheng

Having set my alarm clock to make sure I didn'g oversleep, I woke feeling refreshed and ready for my main reason for going to Siem Reap - the ancient temples of Angkor Wat. Fortifying myself with cups of tea, my driver was waiting for me and we set off around 4.30pm. (Da said if you leave at 4 o'clock, they will stamp your pass for today) and we arrived at the first check point - buying the temple pass.

Above: Buying your temple pass
As you can see, there are many people all waiting to get their pass. You stand in line, (pushing and shoving were not the order of the day - people were polite) when it's your turn you give your name, "Smile" for the camera, hand over your Oxford scholars and stand to the side until they call your name. And Voila! Temple Pass and you're ready to start. Back in the tuk tuk, there were many ahead of us - but my driver was shifty - he neatly drove his trusty steed to the left, puhed in between two large vehicles whizzed along the small space and we were through. Michael Schummaker eat your heart out!

Above: First glimpse
Travelling along you go up this long avenue with trees on either side. At various intervals are policeman, some in pairs, some by themself with their motor bikes, I noticed them because they seemed to be spaced less than a km apart. I wondered why there were so many, but it was comforting to know they were there - I don't think there'd be too many would-be baddies around.

At the end of the avenue, we turned left and the river was on our right. We did another right hand turn and the first sight of Angkor Wat came into view. It was exciting seeing this and I gawked like any good tourist does, camera at the ready, eyes as big as saucers.☺

I thought we were stopping here but my driver had other ideas. I did ask if he would stop so I could take a few photos.

At Phnom Bakheng
We travelled further on and on asking where we were going, he replied, "Phnom Bakheng". I said I'd like to ride an elephant. When we arrived there were lots of people, and Pookeah took me over to where the elephant people were. I wanted to ride the elephant up as well as down. It's $20 going up and $15 coming down. Alas there were no elephants available going up, but I did book one for the return journey.

Sellers and Hawkers
After this, I was assailed by hoards of people all wanting me to "Buy this lady". Despite saying, "No thank you" repeatedly, and not wanting to appear rude, I gave the time honoured answer, " I'll think about it, maybe later." The boy (and a woman) then said, "You buy later" to which I replied I didn't know, maybe, I don't know - BIG mistake. The first rule when dealing with the local people wanting to sell you stuff - never, never, never, say "I'll think about it" or "Maybe later". Whereas we take that as neither yes or no, but generally meaning you aren't interested and you don't want to, it's a pretty firm guess that "maybe later" means no.
Not with the local people. They have memories like an elephant, as I'll explain later.

Above: The "Book" Salesman
This is the young lad who wanted me to buy books. He'd make a great used car salesman some day!

Walking up the hill
To get to Phnom Bakheng, other than by elephant, you have to hike up this very steep hill - up, up, up, panting and huffing and puffing (you realise just how unfit you are) - the path seemed to go on indefinitely. I can quite see why all the elephants going up the hill had been booked. Even in "normal" weather, that is, nice cool climates, it would be tough going - combine this with 40º or so - you'll get the picture. Every time I thought we were at the top there was another path around the "corner".

Finally we really did arrive at the top and oh - the sight of that temple with all those people sitting on the top and the sides of it. Waiting - what were they waiting for? I didn't know.

Phnom Bakheng
This was my first sight, I had approached from the right.
Phnom Bakheng is a Hindu temple and was built toward the end of the 9th cedntury and dedicated to Shiva during the reign of King Yasovarman (889-910 A.D.).
It is a popular tourist spot for sunset views of Angkor Wat - of course I didn't know this then and wondered what I was supposed to do. Why had my driver brought me here, was I meant to climb the steps of this temple, or look around at the ruins or something?

Above: Phnom Bakheng from the left
Walking around, this photo was taken from the left side. By dent of speaking with other people and asking questions, I gathered that the whole idea was to watch the sunset from here. I didn't know then that the idea was to actually climb up the temple, sit (or stand) at the top and from there view the sunset.

Above: Close-up
A close-up of the central "door". I didn't have time to go exploring, as the sun was sinking lower and I had finally found a good spot through the trees to see the sun going down for the day.

Did you know?
The view of the Angkor Wat from the top of Phnom Bakheng is featured in the movie Tomb Raider (when Lara Croft looks through the binoculars upon arriving in Cambodia).

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