Sunday, January 5, 2014

18. Around Siem Reap

The temperatures and humidity currently are just so pleasant, I guess it cannot get any better than this. The mornings start out in the low 70s, around 3 p.m. a maximum of around 88 degrees is reached, with mid-range humidity. Beautiful. A day made for riding.

I didn't want to buy a ticket to enter the actual temples yet, instead I looped around Angkor Wat and Bayon temple districts using the so-called Korean Ring Road. The overall size of the district is immense and we can only estimate the former beauty and might. They advertise helicopter flights here to get a better understanding of the huge complex and it's master plan and organization from the air which is a good idea, however I will not set foot in a helicopter, especially not in a country like Cambodia.

Of course this is high season and I didn't expect that there would be any tourists at all, but the hordes of people nowadays coming here is astounding and puts me off a little.  This is not comparable to my first visit some 12 years ago, and during the rainy season! There wasn't hardly anybody here.

I rode also north, some 30 kilometers to Banteay Sreay, the so-called "Women's Temple" ( a name given in the last 100 years, not related to the meaning of the site.) My hopes that so far away from Angkor the tourist flood would ebb where not honored.

A stop at the Cambodian Demining Museum, a small private enterprise on the way proved less educational than I had hoped for.

U.S.-made land mine.

Various rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs), mostly Russian provenance.

Spooky display.

Riding southbound on National Highway 63 one reaches Tonle Sap lake. It is enormous in size and the largest fresh water lake in South East Asia. Currently, during the dry season, the level is some 5 meters below compared to the average height in September. Worthwhile seeing are the "floating villages" of fishing family housing at the end of the road from Siem Reap. The source of income is fishing of course, and you can tell by the heavy smell. 

I was at the pier very early this morning to see the preparations for departure of the speed boat to the capital Phnom Penh. The boat ride takes 7 hours. I am not sure that I want to be in a boat like that.

Water lilies cover this part of the lake entirely.

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