We arrived in the late evening, waited in line at the immigration office for a visa on arrival, grabbed our bags and took a taxi to our resort. This is not a taxi like you would expect; this is a Cambodian tuk tuk which reminds me of a mix of a rickshaw and a motorbike. Not safe but then again Asia isn’t known for their safety standards. As we make our way to our resort, we start to slow down and turn down a dark alley and for a moment I am a little scared. All I can imagine is being mugged and left in the middle of Cambodia with no passport or money with a toddler… Not to worry this is where our hotel is…
For fifty bucks a night we stayed at the Central Angkor Wat Boutique Resort. Although it was in the worst possible location, the resort was well worth the fifty bucks a day with two pools and a nice restaurant. We tuck in for the night and plan to start the adventure the next morning.
The plan for this trip is to wake up very early, see as much as possible before the heat would pick up around noon, eat lunch, and get back to the hotel to play in the pool the rest of the day. When we arrived in Cambodia, we had the illusion that this would be a cheap trip and some parts were inexpensive but I forgot about the costs of visas and the tickets to go to Angkor Wat. The one purchase, we made which was the best bang for our buck was the tuk tuk driver service to take us around for the entire day for fifteen bucks a day. We had the same driver for our entire three day pass to Angkor Wat. He was friendly, his English was pretty good, and made an effort to take us to the best temples out of the entire complex.
During our stay, we were able to experience Cambodia’s New Year, which meant that the Angkor Wat complex was packed and ready for a huge party. On day one, we visited the temple of many faces and Angkor Wat, luckily for us the big New Year’s Eve party started the next day and we were still able to see Angkor. Our friends were right, by noon it was so hot we were finished for the day. We asked our driver to take us for authentic Cambodian food. We had a type of curry soup with white fish and fresh spring rolls; the food was similar to Thai but not as spicy.
On the second day, the one temple we were determined to visit was the temple from the movie Laura Croft Tomb Raider. I’m not a huge Angelina fan but it’s always awesome to be somewhere Hollywood has as filmed. Obviously, since it is Hollywood, the temple was much more ancient and spooky in the movie then in the blistering heat of the Cambodian sun. At this point every temple is starting to look the same and it’s so hot we do not care to continue exploring past noon.
On our last day, we rode in our little tuk tuk for an hour and half to see the “pink lady temple”. I was picturing something a little different than what we saw like an actual pink temple… Nope just red dirt colored but the carvings were remarkable and still intact for the most part making it the main reason people make the commute to visit this temple.
Cambodia was a type of third world country I had not yet experienced. The ancient ruins and the carvings, which were still intact were breathtaking. For this American, who grew up in a time where information is literally at your fingertips and any big building is built with heavy machines, to see an ancient civilization found in the middle of the jungle, built by men with only their bare hands and elephants bringing down stone from the mountains is simply mind blowing.
My wild, explorer toddler loved this trip despite the heat and I am sure your children will too as long as you make ice cream stops along the way.