February 28th – March 6th: We spent the week in Bangkok doing what we always do: walking and eating. I’ll lump these photos in with a future Bangkok post 🙂
March 7th to 13th: We got picked up from the Siem Reap airport by tuktuk and I was so excited! I didn’t know I’d always wanted to ride in a tuktuk til we were in one.
We had a couple of options for exploring Angkor Archeological Park: walk (ha!), rent bicycles, rent a tuktuk, or rent a taxi. Since the park is HUGE and 5km out of town, walking was out, especially in the 38°C heat. Biking was also considered but for only 10 USD more, we opted for a tuktuk rental.
The first day in Angkor, we did the Grand Circle Tour: Pre Rup, East Mebon, Ta Som, Neak Pean, Preah Khan Temple, and lastly Angkor Wat. The original plan was to watch the sunset from Phnom Bakheng, but after reading reviews of how horrendously busy it is, we opted for Angkor Wat. The sunset itself is not stunning from Angkor Wat but the warm sunset colours on the buildings were beautiful.
Our second day in Angkor (by tuktuk again) brought us to Angkor Wat (because it needs more than one visit!), Bayon, Baphuon, Prasat Preah Palilay, and Ta Prohm. One of the “must-do” things is to see sunrise at Angkor Wat but we opted for just after sunrise for a couple reasons: 1. The crowds were horrifying 2. Sunrise is too early 3. Sunrise is never as satisfying as sleeping. Maybe we missed out but I don’t think so 🙂
On another day we borrowed bikes from the hotel and biked to the APOPO Visitor Center. APOPO works in various countries worldwide, clearing mine fields of explosives. They use trained African giant pouched rats to detect landmines. The rats have super sensitive noses and are too light to set off the weight sensitive mines. They can clear a chunk of land that would take 4 days to clear using conventional methods in just 30 minutes!
March 14th to 17th: We bused down to Phnom Penh, about 6 hours south.
While in Phnom Penh, we walked down to the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum. Les had been twice before so he waited patiently outside while I did the audio tour. It is a former high school that was used as a torture prison by the Khmer Rouge from 1975 to 1979. The prisoners and their treatment was all well documented by the Khmer Rouge. Many documents were destroyed but many still remain. It is estimated that 20,000 people were processed here (ie. tortured and sentenced to die). It is a hugely depressing place. It is horrifying that this happened and that this lack of human empathy still exists today.
It took a while to recover from the Genocide Museum.
We enjoyed walking around Phnom Penh despite the heat. There is a nice river walk where people do free aerobics/dance classes every evening. Lots of tourists wandering around. It was fun to try to guess where people are from based on stereotypes and their appearances 🙂
Next, we head back to Bangkok!