Monday, March 09, 2009

CAMBODIA AND ANGKOR WAT

One of my favorite places to visit is Cambodia. I guess everyone knows of my archaeological interests from all my previous blog posts. In the latter half of 2006, I had visited Siem Reap, cambodia (famous for Angkor Wat and hundreds of other Angkorean temples and cities) for a long holiday and blogged about the trip in three parts. You can find that here titled "Siem Reap, Cambodia" and second part titled "More of the Angkor Kingdom" and last part titled "Siem Reap Trip Ends". Click on each of them to be directed to the blog posts. Now, in the year 2009, I made a short return visit to Siem Reap. Last week to be precise! I had guests who'd never been to Siem Reap before. My previous posts have plenty of still pictures.

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(Here above is a vdo clip of the inner courtyard of Angkor Wat now. They are doing a lot of restoration works in the Angkor Wat complex currently, being funded by foreign governments, saw a banner mentioning German Government aid for these works)

Information contained in my 2006 blogs on Cambodia is still relevant today because the details provided in them are still current. Almost nothing has changed except that many more hotels, shops and restaurants have sprung up. Tuk Tuk's (carriage pulled by a moped) still costs $2 anywhere in Siem Reap town and food is still cheap. Hotels are cheap as well, tourism is down like everywhere else. Very attractive for those looking for an interesting and adventurous holiday. This time I stayed at a slightly upmarket boutique hotel called the Victoria Angkor, rates being so affordable these days.
Terms of entry into the country are the same. E-Visa can be obtained online here and having that ensures that you spend very little time in line filling up on-arrival visa forms, paying fees and then having to standing in line at Immigration. E-visa is the fast track way of getting in.

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(Above is a short vdo clip of a ride through Siem Reap town, taken from my Tuk Tuk moped-carriage. This is the central park area and houses the King's Palace which is not an extra ordinary building anyway)

This time I went in March, hot season actually and predictably muggy. It's all worth it at the end of the day. So, if you are remotely interested in history or archaeology, this would be the place to put on the top of your "must visit" list. I found a group who had just come to visit those temples where Angelina Jolie starred movie "Lara Croft Tomb Raider" was shot.

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(Above is a vdo clip of the Bayon Temple complex, a part of it, taken from the upper-inner courtyard)

Backpackers hang around Cambodia because things are really cheap, there are loads of things to do on a lean budget. You'd find masses of whites on bicycles all around towns and the temple complexes. During my last visit to Siem Reap, I had described and photographed Pub Street, a common watering hole for many foreigners and expats living in Siem Reap. Pub street has expanded, the lanes and by lanes that feed pub street have improved a lot, adding many new restaurants and bars, all reasonably priced and wonderful street side ambiance.

(Doesn't the Mok look good?)

After a hard day of exploring, this would be a perfect place to chill out. Read my previous Cambodia blogs for details of Pub street and the food available there but one thing I'd strongly recommend is to try the Seafood Mok which is a seafood curry in young coconut. Usually served with rice, this is a complete meal, delicious and available everywhere. There are places where one can find the vegetarian versions of the same or sweet talk the waiter to get the chef to put in veggies instead of the seafood.

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Here's a short vdo of one part of pub street at night ending with a shot of an Indian restaurant offering Kabab dinner.

14 comments:

RAJI MUTHUKRISHNAN said...

Thanks you so much for sharing the videos of the temple - it is a beautiful place.

avdi said...

Great as usual. The last video really cracked me up. Imagine a restaurant being called Kamasutra. haha !

avdi said...

Your blog reminded me of the wonderful Han Suyin. Right now am googling her and trying to read her up and reminding myself to pick up some of her books.

I think The Four Faces was her book on Cambodia.

Capt. Anup Murthy said...

Thanks Mdm Raji. I hope you like my other blog articles on Cambodia, there's so much to see and do.

Avdi, thanks. Brought a smile on my face too when I saw the name of the restaurant. Looked at the menu to see if it featured any aphrodisiacs! Just Kababs! I had not heard of the Four Faces book. Will see if I can find it here.

avdi said...

haha at the menu ! I guess the words 'Kamasutra' 'Taj' are all recognisable keywords for India...

Capt. Anup Murthy said...

True Avdi. In my travels around the World, the most used ones are Taj or Taj Mahal or Taj Palace. Some of the other oft found names are Bombay Palace or Delhi Restaurant or even Gateway of India! Maharaja or even Maharani are also common (Many Shahi Maharani's around). KS is not that common I'd think. But there are two I found on the net, one in Toronto and one in Glasgow. Been both places but not seen these restaurants.

flowergirl said...

I came here via the mysoreblogpark site, my attention caught by the familiar picture of Angkor.

Reading all your old posts brought a smile of recollection to my face, as I relived our trip a couple of years ago, which was similar to yours.

We did not go to Tonle Sap, and now I wish we had. Maybe next time! Also, we went in the dry season, and the temples look so different in your pictures with a touch of green surrounding them.

Our group member Kamini has written a delightful narrative on our trip, so please do read it when you have the time!

It begins here:

http://kaminidandapani.typepad.com/my_weblog/2008/02/a-trip-to-angko.html

Capt. Anup Murthy said...

Hi Flowergirl. Thanks for stopping by and reading my old posts as well. Thanks also for the link to Kamini's blog, very well written and interesting indeed.

I dare say we have posted some very similar pictures! What I liked was the dry river bed in Kbal Spean that Kamini's post has. As mentioned in my blog, I went there at the tail end of the monsoon and hence the river was full of water and you could see these carving under water but not that clearly. Standing under the waterfalls (it was in full flow) seems to be a blessing because the water would have run over the Shiva lingams and other deities on the river bed before it empties into the falls. So, lots of Cambodians were getting drenched under the falls.

For me, personally, Lolei was wonderful. That they could create such works on brick facades that far back in time was the icing on the cake.

Nandini said...

Cambodja is a wonderful place seen from the sky too:
http://googleearthpage.blogspot.com/

I hope I cant travel to Cambodja sometime in the near future!

Ray said...

great.just great

Detective Agencies said...

I have heard a lot about Cambodia and the temple. I would surely arrange to visit the place sometime. Thanks for sharing the videos.

Capt. Anup Murthy said...

Thanks Nandini, Thanks Ray, Thanks "Detective Agency"!

YOSEE said...

Hullo Captain . We were in Siam Reap in november. Your narrative and wonderful videos were like a refresher course! Tuk-tuking around Old Market and Pub Street was fun. But i dint enjoy the Tonle Sap ride much. All that poverty ! The hardlife of those kids broke my heart.

Capt. Anup Murthy said...

Hi Yosee, wow you do get around! I did Tonle Sap during the tail end of the rainy season and the lake was full. This tim I just saw it from the air, looks like more of the settlements have appeared on the lake. Yes, they are very poor there, many such places all around the World and that's disheartening for sure.