Although Siem Reap is not my kind of town, we are here for the very same reason every tourist is here - the temples of Angkor.
The site the temples are housed on is enormous, as the former capital of the Khmer empire from the 9th to the 17th century it is a vast complex with over 40 temples still in fine condition. They are all different reflecting the different tastes and interests of each king, it is a mind boggling collection of art and thankfully is about the one thing the Khmer Rouge decided to spare from their almost total destruction of all Cambodian history and art.
After making the aquaintance of Nabot, a tuk tuk driver who was so desperate for our business that he followed us through the streets for half an hour one night begging for a job, we agreed for him to show us around the temples for a couple of days. A great move as he was a lovely guy who is working as a driver while trying to save up to go to university.
At 6am we head out on our first day - the land around Angkor is different to the rest of the country. It is dense, green and jungly. Cicadas sing in the trees, mist curls around the ground and elephants pad past carrying tourists. But words cannot do justice, I'll let the pictures do the talking.................
Asparas, these are the gorgeous celestial nymphs who adorn several of the temples. All the groups are different, these ones look particularly pleased with themselves.
Me and Ed after climbing up the steep steps into Angkor Wat at sunrise, nice shadow of my hand holding up the camera.
Eduardo sitting in a window at Angkor Thom. Many of the temples had beautiful window frames all ornately carved with delicate lotus flowers. In the background is one of the faces from Bayon.
Another big head at the Bayon temple. These huge faces look very serene and remind me a little bit of the faces cats pull when they are resting. Smug and like they know the secrets of the universe.
Ta Prom - has been left in a more ''natural"state and the jungle has run amok. Giant silvery trees straight out of a fairytale grow through the buildings. Some of them look like a massive prehistoric claw foot stamping down on the ruins from the heavens.
Other trees make a spider web pattern all over the ruins.
Monks visiting the temples - a couple of groups of them could be seen roaming about the site.
Cheeky little kids are also prominent at the site - its sad cause they are all wanting money or for you to buy postcards or drinks constantly. But this little gang were easily distracted by the magic of my digital camera and laughed their heads off when I showed them the picture. (Espeically the girls who were laughing the most at the boy...nice one!)
If aliens landed on near Angkor Wat they would see clear evidence of a cult. A cult that involves wearing silly hats, stupid t-shirts, daggy trousers with zippers and climbing all over ancient ruins to watch the sun set. Each member of the cult appears to have a small silver box that they like to hold at arms length that appears to hypnotise them.