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April 6th, 2011 | Asia

Angkor Wat…!!

Angkor Wat…!! The name had been kicking around in my head for years it seemed… Before I set out on this journey, if you had asked me for the five things I most wanted to see, I think Angkor Wat would have been in that small grouping…

The Jewel in the Crown of my South East Asia visit - Angkor Wat, Cambodia...

Strangely enough, I never spent a single minute doing any research on the area… The images that were fixed in my head, were of temples in thick jungle, overgrown by towering trees, their roots entwined with the ancient, stone temple walls…

When I finally laid eyes on the place I had come so far to see, I can only say that I was more than mildly disappointed… There was no jungle for starters, neatly maintained roads and paths led between the various temples and ruins… Traffic buzzed about as if on a busy road in a small town…

There is but one temple where the roots of trees grow through and around the walls of the building, and this is probably the scene that was imprinted on my brain so long ago…

Angkor Archeological Park, of which Angkor Wat itself is just a small portion, stretches for many kilometres north of the town of Siem Reap… There are hundreds of temples and other ruins of lesser significance than those that are so well “marketed” in the tourist industry…

The Angkor Wat, the scale of the place is overwhelming...

Angkor Wat is impressive to my mind, mainly due to its size… When we visited, a large portion of the southern and eastern facade of this massive temple, was covered in scaffolding and netting…!! Workmen laboured in the shade of the inner courtyards, using electric grinding machines to cut through stone slabs, which were then being fitted into gaps in the walls and stairways of the original temple…

On the steps of one of the many entrances to the main temple...

We had decided to buy a three day pass for $40, which allows one to visit the part on three separate occasions over a one week period… If you intend to spend three days touring the ruins, then this option saves you $20, as the usual daily fee is $20…

For those truly interested in Khmer architecture and the history of the area, three days would not be enough to cover it all… This place is huge…!! There are hundreds of temples, scattered over an area of many square kilometres…

Kicked off our boots, and are going back to our roots...

On our first day in, we all agreed that it would be best to hire a Tuk-Tuk to scout the area before trying to ride our bikes on the roads leading to and around the temples…

We quickly discovered that there were very few places that we would be allowed to ride our bikes…!! Once past the main entrance where tickets are bought and checked, there was basically one large parking area close to the entrance of Ankgor Wat itself, where all private vehicles had to be left…

Lara Croft was not in when we visited...

Naturally, that just wasn’t good enough for us…!! We began planning a route that would keep us away from the many security check points, and get us as close to as many of the ruins as possible…

The following morning, we zoomed up to the main entrance, had our tickets clipped for the second time, and then rode down the main entrance road towards the moat that surrounds the Angkor Wat…

We rode slowly down a dirt track to the back of the ruin, where a road crossed the moat… This was the entrance through which the maintenance and other staff on the site moved… I hopped off the bike, walked confidently up to the guard at the gate, and advised him that we were here from BMW to “do the filming”…

After a short and suspicious silence, I pointed to the ruins just across the moat and said that we were not going into the temple grounds itself, but would be shooting in full view of his post, so that he could see what we were doing at all times…

The boom went up, and we were onto the hallowed ground of Angkor Wat, WITH OUR BIKES….!!

Not too many people get to ride their bikes around the ruins of Angkor Wat...

We spent almost an hour setting up tripods, moving the bikes back and forth and getting all the shots we wanted… Eventually the security guard rode over and firmly requested that we leave the area…

We went looking for another place to sneak into, but were finally collared by a very serious looking policeman who insisted we pull over and get off our bikes… By the looks of things, he wanted to impound them… We smiled and joked and pretended not to understand the seriousness of what he was trying to explain…

The bottom line was that he wanted us off the site as quickly as possible, and instructed us to park the bikes down at the entrance gate, (which was a good few kilometres away…!!) and wait for him there…

But we managed to sweet talk our way onto various places at the site...

Naturally, that did not suit us at all…!! We smiled and nodded, pretending to agree with everything he said, and then rode away in the direction of the gate, but stopped at the far side of the Angkor Thom complex, where we were out of sight of the local coppers, and continued shooting photos of us in the foreground of the Bayon Temple… See above and below…

Outside Bayon Temple... Mega-tick for all of us...!!

Morgan then had an altercation with a group of tourists who objected to us having our bikes so close to the temple walls… We had ridden off the main road and stopped on the grassy verge close to the west gate of Bayon…

We realised that we were now attracting too much attention, and sooner or later “the boys in Khaki” would come looking for us, and might not be in as good a mood as when we first encountered them…

We rode through the portals of the south gate, and then stopped to take a few more photos…

Spontaneous group hug...!! We had managed to ride in Angkor Wat...!!

Our bikes stand just as proud as we are...!!

The GB's current state of mind can best be described as... Sticker nicked from the DHL offices in Siem Reap...

Seeing bikes among the ruins was quite a sight, even for us, and we all felt strangely exhilarated by our unauthorised trip through the complex… We could have seen and got away with a lot more, but decided not to push our luck any further that day…

Morgan’s film crew was due to fly in from Hong Kong later that same afternoon, and he still had to arrange accomadation for them and his family, who were also joining the group for a week or so…

We stopped at DHL to make sure the video cameras we had ordered for the bikes were on their way to Bangkok, and then fooled around on the scales while the manager checked the DHL website…

I am happy to report that I weigh exactly the same as when I set out more than a year ago, proving without a doubt, that coffee, biscuits and chocolates are a perfect substitute for “normal food”…!!

We had no fixed ideas about how long we would spend in Siem Reap… After today’s ride through the ruins (we spent almost four hours there…!!) I wasn’t overly keen to visit them again…

Two days there had satisfied my curiosity, and besides, once you have ridden around the place, the thought of having to use a Tuk-Tuk, or, heaven forbid, actually WALK amongst the ruins, was enough to put me off for good…!! The heat and humidity is unbelievable…!!

While Morgan and his crew planned their shoot at a local orphanage for the following day, Trevor and I went to look for info on the various floating villages on the edge of Lake Tonle Sap…

There were two which we were able to visit by riding our bikes there, and we chose the one closest to town to check out the next day…

Morgan’s film crew also wanted to interview us for the 10 episode documentary they were shooting (airing in September on Nat Geo, I think…!!) and we had to fit that in with our plans as well…

And of course, there was dinner and drinking to arrange…!!

Yeah, its a tough life out here on the road…!!

©GBWT 2011

10 comments to Angkor Wat…!!

  • sikorsky

    I hope everything’s OK with you and you will get yourself together soon!! Best wishes from warm and sunny Poland in spring! 🙂

  • Martin

    Hi Ronnie, having a great time it seems, have you checked out http://www.geocaching.com, yet?
    We joined this in Hermanus and find it very rewarding
    Being where you are this will be a unique opportunity
    Regards, Martin, Hermanus

  • Mark Behr

    Hey Ronnie

    It’s okay to be grumpy – sometimes it is just how you feel. However, how you deal with the grumpiness to get rid of it is the mark of a real survivor. Remember, when this is all over and you sit on the couch in KZN, your blog and pics are all the tangibles you will have left of a lifetime dream. Make sure they are worthwhile. Inspire yourself – you really can do it.
    Stay safe and have an awesome time with your friends !

  • Charmz

    Hey there Big Brother, You are in our thoughts everyday and we know you will be ok, maybe its just some quiet time you need. Never forget what a treasure you are; try to realise how important you are in the eyes of the world, no matter where you go, the hopes, dreams and hearts of others travel beside you every step of your journey.
    Thanks for sharing Angkor Wat with us, it looks like an amazing place to visit. Cool to have shared it with special friends.
    Love and miss you madly, Hang in there!!!
    Charmz

  • Hey Ronnie B
    Even though you are sitting right beside me right now in the lobby of our hotel i am reading your blog and you said,”chenty” says Im in a disagreeable mood! to all you avid followers just wanted to let you know – that lasted about 10min then we whisked him off to dinner with some fun company and he ended the evening with big smiles so dont you worry about him mom, dad, sis and friends, trev and I are taking extra special care of your very big hearted son/bro!!
    we are simply having too much fun to find time to blog at the mo!
    right Ronnie!
    luv
    chenty

  • Trevor Reeve

    Hey Dude, don’t mind us, it’s your holiday, go have a jol! We are all very thankful for what we get! Thanks for the amazing pic’s! Rock on Brother! Regards Trev

  • Lucia

    Ya should’ve used your top box to stand on for the group hug 🙂

  • Funny Girl….!! Especially coming from one that is not all that tall herself…!! R.

  • Tibor

    Ronnie, you lost weight! Eat!

  • Khalid

    Hi Ronnie,
    Do you remmember Saint Jean de Gonville ?
    Erwan and Chloé are in Morocco and we’re going for 2 weeks touring.
    Green mamba is very happy and me to !!!
    Hey brother, keep going, and keep us dreaming.
    We’re looking forward to welcome you in Morocco.

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