So, after months of waiting, we are finally in South East Asia! Our journey here was luckily very smooth though the stopover in Abu Dhabi was certainly not enjoyable due to the fact that it was at 4am English time. We touched down in Bangkok at 8pm local time which tuned out to be very good for us as we got on the sky-train to a stop just a couple of minutes walk from our hostel, which was very easy to find. We collapsed happily into our beds!
After a good night’s sleep we spent the next day exploring the temples of Bangkok. We visited the very touristy Wat Po and it’s 46m long, 15m high reclining Bhudda depicting Bhudda going into the final nirvana. It really was enormous! We also visited some much smaller temples, one of which stuck out more than the others. It was very small with one man sitting outside who was very friendly and inviting. He explained the statues in the temple for us, prompted us to bang a gong three times for good luck and showed us a box of wooden sticks. These all had numbers written on and you stood in front of the Bhudda and shook the box whilst asking for something. When a stick fell out of the box you looked at the number. That number corresponded with numbered sheets of paper on the wall. You took the relevant one and it told you whether you would be lucky in what you had asked for. Ours were not great!
During our time in Bangkok we also explored some of its markets, including the 7 storey MBK which is easily the biggest shopping centre I’ve ever been in and sold everything and anything you could ever want. We’ll be sure to visit again before we fly home!
After Bangkok we heading East, bound for Cambodia. A very long and very hot train journey ensued past seas of paddy fields and farms. Thankfully our border crossing was very quick and easy, though no thanks to our tuk tuk driver who took us to a “official” visa office round the back of a building which had a sign on the window for double the price of what we knew it would cost. We simply walked around the building and down to the actual border, they didn’t even try to stop us. Still, some people sadly must fall for it.
We arrived a few hours later in Siem Reap, hoping for a great couple of days visiting the temples of Angkor, the 8th wonder of the world and the world’s largest religious building. Up at 4.45am we set off in the tuk tuk we had hired for the day to try and catch the sunrise over one of the largest temples, Angkor Wat. Arriving in the dark the temples were very ominous and intimidating. Surrounded by people we saw the sun begin to rise about 20 minutes later. However, after about 15 minutes it was obvious that there was far too much cloud for an impressive sunrise. Therefore we thought we’d try and beat the crowds to one of the other temples and so headed back to our tuk tuk driver. He then drove us to Bayon with it’s 216 huge stone faces, also very spooky in the early morning light made even more so by the fact that there were only 2 other people there. The next couple of hours we we pretty much on our own with no-one else to be seen which was great but also a little disconcerting. We were just waiting for the Cambodian ghosts to appear!
After exploring some of the smaller temples around Bayon we also visited Ta Prohm, known as the Tomb Raider temple as some of the film’s scenes were shot there, and revisited Angkor Wat to explore the inside and look at some of the carvings that stretch for 180m around the temple. We were both very glad that we had made the journey as it was completely worth it. The temples certainly lived up to their reputation as one of the best things to see in Asia if not the world.
Turns out our luck hasn’t been too bad after all!
Angkor Wat at sunrise