26 May - 02 Jun 2010 Siem Reap

Kingdom of Cambodia
Spacious, clean and rather cheerful double room, with wifi, for only US$ 7.- per night. Friendly young staff.

Click below for an enhanced aerial view of the Tropical Breeze Guest House in Siem Reap, which we would recommend, and for directions:

Helping our Khmer driver/guide Bunchhoeurn to pay off his debts (his mother-in-law had lent him the total of US$ 1,900.- for a brand-new remorque-moto: US$ 1,200.- for a strong 125-cc Honda Dream motorbike plus US$ 700.- for a locally built, canopied trailer) and hiring his reliable and friendly service for US$ 11.- per day in order to visit the 12th-century CE Temples of Angkor, Cambodia’s eighth wonder of the world and a huge UNESCO World Heritage Site (three-day pass for US$ 40.- per person): (i) exploring the Angkor Wat, the most breathtaking of all the Angkorian monuments and the largest religious structure in the world, and being struck by both its imposing grandeur and its fascinating decorative flourishes and extensive bas-reliefs, (ii) contemplating the serenity and splendour of the Bayon with its 216 coldly smiling, enigmatic faces staring out into the jungle, (iii) gaping in wonder at the well preserved Banteay Srei, a Hindu temple dedicated to Shiva which is cut from stone of a pinkish hue and which includes some of the finest stone carvings seen anywhere on earth, (iv) witnessing nature reclaiming the stones of the mysterious ruin of Ta Prohm with its many strangulating root formations, (v) getting lost in the maze of vaulted corridors, fine carvings and lichen-clad stonework of the ultimate fusion-temple Preah Khan which is dedicated to the Hindu trinity of Shiva, Vishnu and Brahma, as well as the Buddha, and temple-hopping some smaller fry in-between, like (a) the pools of Preah Neak Pean, (b) the Ta Som with its huge tree, completely overwhelming the eastern gopura, (c) the 50m-high and unfinished Ta Keo, (d) the Eastern Mebon with its neatly arranged holes which attached the original plasterwork, and (e) the Banteay Kdei whose four entrances are decorated with big half-man-half-bird garudas; uff!

Getting a bird’s-eye view of Angkor Wat and flying with a tethered helium balloon 200 m up into the blue sky over the temples and rice paddies (US$ 15.- per person for the ride).

Applauding to an outstanding performance of the traditional Khmer nymph dance aka apsara dance, which is famous for the stylised, slow and graceful hand and foot movements of the apsara dancers with their opulent stupalike hard hats, at the Temple Club +85515999909 in Siem Reap.

Laundering our dirty linen for US$ 1.- per kg, washed and dried, with the help of our guest house’s laundry service.

Taking the air-con Paramount Angkor Express bus from Siem Reap to Phnom Penh (320 km, 6 1/2 hours, US$ 5.- per person), Cambodia’s rough capital, a city of extremes of poverty and excess, of chaos and charm and of malice and friendliness.

2010 Map Konni & Matt

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