Yesterday I visited the temples of Angkor by bicycle. It’s 6.5km from my hostel to the temple of Angkor Wat. BUT the crazy climate makes the bike ride quite an ordeal. At the moment there are around 34 degrees with a humidity of 60%, so the heat feels like 40 degrees. At least ?
Oh well. I wanted to experience something, right?! The bike ride was great. This is how I visited the unseen and further away Preah Kahn Temple. In the end I was out all day, made 32km with the bike and was completely exhausted in the evening. And slightly dehydrated? Although I drank 3 liters. Of water! ?
I found it a great way to explore the temples by bicycle. I was able to decide myself when to go where and how much time I wanted to spend there, without having to think about my TukTuk driver? But - it is by no means to be underestimated. I saw some people loading the bikes on the way back into a TukTuk.
To make today a bit more comfortable, I rented a scooter. Unlike other Asian countries, in Cambodia it is still quite uncommon for tourists to travel by scooter. However, I think that this is the best way to explore the landscape and have therefore dared to try it here ?
At $10 a day, the rent is twice as expensive as in Bali for example. At the bike rental of my confidence, or so?, I have rented the scooter and I took off on my trip by 10:00am. Of course only, after a short instruction on where the turn signal switch is and where to find the brake.
My destination was the 66km distant Ben Mealea temple. Not again a temple you think now. Hehe- sorry, but there are just so many beautiful temples here ?
First I drove through Siem Reap for a while, the traffic was dense, the noise level was high and the concentration had to be constantly at the highest level, as not to bang into anything. Since I was traveling on the main road, the traffic was only slightly lighter after I left the city. Something good, however, was that there is a separate track for scooters on the main road. This makes it a bit more enjoyable. Or so.
After about 40km I left the main road and turned onto a side street to continue north. And after about 2h of driving I had reached my destination. The temple of Beng Mealea.
Many of Beng Mealea's buildings have collapsed like card houses. Large stone blocks pile up in many places. This scene is almost more impressive than the temple area of Ta Prohm. Visitors enter the temple from the south. At the south gate of the second gallery-ring begins a wooden path (stairs, paths and bridges), which allows partially in lofty heights, the inspection of a large part of the temple. The view is really impressive. I was expecting Indiana Jones behind every stone block.
The temple was heavily mined until 2001, then it was for some years as an insider tip. But more and more tourists come here to admire the morbid beauty of the temple ruins in the jungle.
After my visit to Beng Mealea, I did not know exactly what to do during the rest of the day. Since I had rented the scooter for the whole day, I decided to drive back to Siem Reap via detours through the countryside. Via google maps I have chosen a route that should not be too far (heat!).
The road took me through the landscape of steppes, sweet little villages with their inhabitants, who watched me in astonishment ? At some point google- maps told me to turn right. Well, the road I was supposed to turn on, was no longer paved, but only red gravel stone. I thought this would only be a short way, as google said it should turn into a larger road. So I drove my scooter across the gravel road somewhere out in the nowhere in Cambodia. Past laughing children - or have they laughed at me ?? Missing trees which could have given some shade. A shower sounded like a huge luxury now. After about a 10min. ride, I realized that the gravel road would not be over soon. I had the feeling that the way back was too long by now. I told myself to just easy peasy drive on. Nice and slow. There were indeed a nice number of potholes, but I elegantly drove around them. My brother would be proud of my driving skills ??
More and more small groups of the impressive Asian water buffaloes feeding in the rice fields, appeared, guarded by the farmers with the Asian cone hats. Pictures like in a catalog.
The closer I got to Siem Reap, the more rice fields I passed. Suddenly I was standing in front of a street sign that read- “Right turn to Angkor Wat”. Say what?? I’ve had been driving that far already? From my research, I knew that the entry to Angkor Wat was prohibited to tourists riding scooters. However, as I still had one day left on my 3day pass, I thought I would give it a try. And behold, I was admitted to the park without any trouble ?
This is how I was able to complete the big tour at Angkor and visit the last temples.
At about 16:00hrs I passed by Phnom Bakeng. This is a temple built on top of a hill. This is also the most popular place in Siem Reap to admire sunsets. However, when I made the ascent, I was disappointed. For security reasons, only 300 people are allowed to enter the temple at one time. At 16:00hrs already 300 people were inside and in line in front of me were again around 80 people. In the 20min. during which I stood in line no one came down. Ofcourse everyone wanted to enjoy the sunset from up there and accepted to wait another hour. After 20min. waiting in line I gave up. I went to a small platform a little further down. Even from there you had a great view. Turned out that the sunset was not even that great tonight ?
For the last time today, the motto was to focus all concentration. Once again through the crazy evening traffic. Circling around cars, scooters, chickens, children and whatever else crosses the road in Asia. At 18:40hrs I was, quite exhausted, not very well smelling and thirsty as a camel back at the hostel.
I rode exactly 140km with my scooter in the region around Siem Reap today. It was a great experience and is highly recommended to anyone wanting to see as much as possible of Cambodia.
You know how it works-> pictures are here ??