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Archive for the ‘Angkor Wat’ Category

The Places

High time I gather my thoughts before my memory gets diluted.

I can’t actually pin point a particular moment when I jumped at the idea of visiting the age old ruins of apparently the largest religious monument in the world.Was it the stray mention by Priya the other day in office about the largest temple complex or was it the reluctance of visiting yet another cosmopolitan city studded with malls and high rises or was it to go holidaying differently….ummm may be all. Bali, Krabi, Ho Chinh Minh City were all duly considered and ruled out due to various logistic and financial constraints which included over expensive hotel and flight rates. Though Wikipedia’s last line on safety almost made me rule out Siem Reap too.It stated “By local regulation, motorcycle and tuk-tuk drivers must at all times wear a numbered vest when on the job, which goes a long way towards preventing hassles and scams. However, a disturbing number of rapes continue to happen, especially after dark and in the more secluded temples, so it’s unadvisable for women to travel alone.”
For my first solo trip this was reason enough to give up on visiting Angkor Wat but then while browsing through LonelyPlanet’s discussion forum Thorn Tree, I realised it would be good idea to seek advice from recent visitors to Cambodia.And the response I got from them gave me back my confidence and egged me to plan out my itinerary with greater zeal! So Angkor Wat it was for me and ofcourse Singapore!

2nd Nov, 2007 – Chennai

I boarded the Shatabdi Express from Bangalore Central and reached Chennai at 11:15 a.m.. My Chennai itinerary was completely chalked out by Amit with a few sms-es in between to check out my preferences on movies.The auto ride from the station to Amit’s den turned out actually good ’cause we had to take the longer route along the Marina beach and beyond due to road diversion. After stacking my baggage at Amit’s place and gulping down a glass of litchi juice and some plum cake, we were ready to head to the beach but then gave up on the plan since given the traffic scenario we might be late for the movie.So a sumptuous lunch at Dhaba Express followed by an early evening show at Satyam is what happened.Jab We Met actually turned out to be pleasant surprise, more so since we had presumed that we would leave the movie half way if it becomes unbearable! Sipping cold coffee at Barista, Beasant Nagar was enough for us to unwind and go back to the good old college days. In short a day well spent!

I reached Chennai Airport in time and the wait after completing all the formalities was not much. On boarding we were informed the flight was delayed since the flight maps of the Tiger Airways and Air traffic control didn’t match! As if that was not reason enough to be jittery, I noticed soon after take off that our aircraft actually squeezed in between two other! Air traffic is surely increasing!

3rd Nov, 2007 – Singapore

I have become unusually skeptical of all the immigration officers and therefore during this trip I kept all kinds of documents handy but I breezed past all that and was ready to step out of the airport after a quick call to Sanj who welcomed me to Sing-land the moment she picked up the phone!

I decided to take the MRT instead of cab since I wanted to get a feel of the city. Therefore took a shuttle from the budget terminal to terminal 2 from where I boarded the MRT. A lady at the ticket kiosk very pleasantly explained me where all I have to change though I was well versed of those places since Sanj and Sreejith had already briefed me about it all. I have to admit though,that the map was really handy.So without any incident I reached Bukit Batok after changing trains twice, where Sanj was waiting for me.

In the middle of the girley chatter Sreejith called to confirm our meeting and had to drag myself out of the cozy sofa to get ready to meet him at Bouna Vista (I somehow like the name of this station the most). I spotted Sree the moment I stepped on the escalator. He took me to Holland street where I bought my latest gizmo – Panasonic DMC FZ18. So now I am a proud owner of an 18x optical zoom camera! An extended lunch at a Mexican Restaurant was followed by a visit to one of the pubs on the same street which has a section maintaining -14 degree centigrade temperature…brrrrrr.We finally headed home around 9 ish in the night after mall hopping in search of a circular polarizer for my new toy.

Sanj was quick to pack me off to bed and woke me at 3 :15 in the night since I had to take the 6:00 am flight to Siem Reap. Terminal 2 of the Changi airport is a complete contrast to Budget Terminal.My apprehension regarding Siem Reap had started building up by then more so since I had absolutely no idea what I should expect there which left me with an unsettling feeling.

4th Nov,2007-7th Nov,2007 – Siem Reap

I messed up a little at the airport by queuing up at the immigration section assuming that the officer will take care of the visa stamping since I did not see a single soul at the Visa counter of the airport! I was duly directed there by the immigration officer later.I realized, I was the last soul to exit the airport lounge after claiming my baggage which incidentally was the last unclaimed one on the belt!

Chay met me as promised outside the airport bearing a welcome card for me! He asked me about plans for the day and I politely evaded any direct answers since I had read many a times that the guest house owners try to impose their tuk-tuks to most of their guests and it becomes more of an obligation to hire from them and not many had a good experience. I reached Mom’s Guest House and was again given the offer of hiring a tuk tuk and upon delicately mentioning that I had already made arrangements, Mom was actually not too happy!

I crashed the moment I walked in my room which was pretty cozy.

Thai was prompt on time while I scampered around to meet him out the guest house.He stood there with placard bearing my name. I discussed my three day itinerary and on asking his opinion he entrusted the decision totally on me. He was so humble that it put me on guard, specially with all the warnings I read at various travel sites about being cheated. Thai, however defused all such preconceived notions in the next three days with his exemplary service.

My itinerary for the next three days was more or else as mentioned in the Angkor Wat Guide.

This guide was my companion throughout my visit to the temples taking me back to the times when they were built. Also, future visitors please note that if you have reached the temples a day before your planned starting date like me-you can actually visit the temple in the evening after 5.00 p.m. that very day on buying the pass for the next day.

I met Telari at the dining hall next day and we shared a wonderful conversation over breakfast and decided to meet for dinner that evening.She had come down to Siem Reap after spending five weeks in Vietnam. We went to a place called Khmer Kitchen to try out the local cuisine and we were not at all disappointed.

The three and half days spent at the Angkor Wat Archaeological Park was like taking a walk over the history pages.The renovation works at various temple sites were a sore but nevertheless required to preserve this heritage.However the planting of trees barring the frontal view of the Angkor Wat beats me completely. They simply take the rustic charm away;more when one knows its a recent development!

I have tried to capture the grandeur of Bayon, the mesmerizing Bantey Srei, the vastness of Angkor Wat temple, the creepers of Ta Prohm and many more here.

8th Nov,2007-11th Nov, 2007 – Singapore

Reached Singapore and settled in Sanj’s cozy dwelling yet again.Plans were made and then remade for rest of the day and she actually made me eat fish without my realization and to think of it I actually liked it!

Finally we decided on Clary Quay while boarding the train to Bugis! Girls aahh well…

More girl talk followed that evening and reliving of the Bangalore days.

The next couple of days was spent park hopping (Sentosa, Jurong Bird Park, Zoo), shopping (various malls & Bugis mainly) and of course dining!

Sanj suggested going to Pulao Ubin on Sunday. And we geared up for a visit to the rustic village of Pulao Ubin which was so different from the cosmetic Singapore mainland.This place was about 15-20 mins boat ride away and we decided to cycle to explore the island.

Another bout of shopping followed later in the day which finally drew to a close with a cool glass of Belgian Chocolate Shake! It was time to pack my bags and my nine day vacationing finally reached its final minutes.

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