Day 58, Friday 02 March 2012, Siem Reap – The Roluos Group of temples.
I had a reasonable sleep last night and up earlyish for a free Nescafe down in the lobby area along with a quick net surf, not used to not having wifi in the room ! Though a waste of time as no interesting emails and nothing happened in my Facebook world either, LOL : ) We wandered up the road for breakfast and had attention lavished up on us by a tuk tuk driver in the cafe, ultimately to no avail. Breakfast was entirely average, though of course very cheap, but we wont go back there again – need to avoid the disappointed tuk tuk driver !
On the bus yesterday i came up with a plan for the things I wanted to see, based on the book I had, though of course I will consult locally now we are in town. I wanted to ease into the sights and do a short day and some minor temples first, so last night we arranged with guesthouse (GH) for a tuk tuk to take us out to the Roluos group of temples for a three hour tour. I can guarantee we can get a better deal on the street but it is still cheap and we know we are at least getting a driver that has some cred with the GH.
The Roluos group is comprised of three sites about thirteen KM from Siem Reap and away from the main sites. Neither of the guide books we have explain what the Roluos bit means, but the three sites in the order we visited them are Bakong, Preah Ko and Lolei.
We left at 9.00 am and the day was already warm ! On the way to the temples we stopped to buy a three day temple pass, at $40 USD as these are checked at all sites, hopefully some of the funds are invested in the maintenance of the temples and it was good to see each site did have some work going on, but not obtrusively so.We stopped for petrol on the way out.
The road from the highway to the temples was incredibly dusty and my grey shirt is now filthy and even a shower wash made no difference – and damnit I only had two days use out of the shirt, I could easily have got another day without having to wash it.The construction of the first temple we visited, Bakong, was started by Indravarman in 881, and the temple is extremely cool ! We were allowed to walk all around the site and there were not too many other tourists getting in the way of me and my camera. Though i did spend the first twenty minutes taking photos on manual focus setting and getting some bad shots – delete, delete.
I climbed up one of the side ruins and was trying to pull myself up on top (other people had been there!) when the pillar I was using to haul myself up on started to fall over – OH SHIT ! I caught it and managed to straighten it up again and no-one noticed – I made a rapid retreat ! You cannot see from the photo, but there is a small bar holding the short pillar to the right of the frame, I knocked it out when I tried to pull myself up, I did manage to get it back in – lesson learned.
At all the temple sites we are approached by young girls selling price inflated cans of coke and other drinks (still cheaper than NZ) and men selling guide books and guide services, it takes a bit of the enjoyment away as, for me I like to enjoy these in peace. I did buy a coke at the last temple though. I am sure Angkor Wat is a lot worse ! As we were leaving the temple, the kids that were at school were riding home.
The second temple we visited was Preah Ko, supposedly built in 880 again by Indrvarman 1. This was a smaller site, though equally interesting and with even less people, I managed to get a few shots with no one in them… the day was brutally hot and there was very little shade around this site so we did not stay too long.
I am not sure on the whole orphanage thing and saw a number of posters in Thailand saying “orphanages are not tourism” which I do agree with, but it is a tough one as tourists do give money. However, where the money goes is a whole different subject and I suspect there is plenty of scamming going on, as well as far more unpleasant things. I didn’t give.
There are a couple more photos on Flickr.
After the temples we went back to town for a late pizza lunch in the main tourist drag, “Pub Street.Hired a couple of bikes for a ride around to see some more of Siem Reap, it was damn hot !!! Preah Promh Rath Monastery dates back around five hundred years and is longest continuously operating Wat in Siem Reap. It contains a replica of the Preah Ang Chang-han Hoy Buddha, who was revered by the Khmer people in the 13th and 14th century.
Up at 4.15 tomorrow, off for a sunrise over Angkor Wat, and the sun better rise if I am getting up that early.