03
Mar

Cycling Vietnam and Cambodia! (Summary Post with Links)

By: muttler

 

Xin Chào and Sou Sdey!

I have finally got to typing up some quick notes and stories about my recent cycling trip to Vietnam and Cambodia. Mostly I went to visit Angkor, but I had 10 days of great fun on a cycling tour. Below are links to each of the days. Hope you enjoy!

Day One: *Insert Good Morning Vietnam Cliche Here*

Day Two: The Cycling Commences

Day Three: Exploring The Mekong

Day Four: Pineapple, Pho, Frog and Ice Cream (one of those things is not like the other)

Day Five: Border Crossing

Day Six: Monkeys and Muay Thai

Day Seven: Spiderlicious

Day Eight: Siem Reap FC

Day Nine: Sunrise at Angkor

Day Ten: The Grand Circuit

 

03
Mar

The Grand Circuit

By: muttler

 

29/01/2019 – Angkor

My last day 🙁

I had one last day to explore Angkor before I would be heading home. While I *should* have been out in it from early, I did have a bit of a sleep in, as the reality was that every day was quite long and we rode around 400km in the end. So combine the activity with moderate sleep and lots of heat (and beer!), and I thought I had earned a little lie in. Plus I wanted to enjoy the day, so having a sleep in for a couple of hours was a good idea I thought.

I had plans to mostly walk for the day in Angkor, but I wanted to see some of the slightly more fringe temples, so the hotel staff strongly advised me to get a tuk tuk out to angkor, and have the driver hang out with me. For $18 for the day, I couldn’t say no.

 

 

I did what is called “The Grand Circuit”. It is the ring of temples that is slightly outside the typical ones (i.e. the ones we did the day before). They are all quite different and typically have less tourists so I was excited to see them.

I won’t go into much detail for them, except to say that if you go to Angkor you MUST ensure you have at least a couple of days up your sleeve to visit more temples outside the main ones. While Angkor Wat, Bayon, etc are undeniably stunning, the scale and number of tourists can get a little overwhelming. But those on the Grand Circuit are still fascinating and gorgeous, with the benefit of much less tourists.

So where did I go?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Preah Khan was first on this list… a medium sized temple with lots to explore. I just love clambering over ruins!

 

 

Neak Peak is a little shrine in the middle of small lake. Interesting, although could be skipped if short on time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ta Som I LOVED! There were heads like Bayon which endlessly fascinated me, but had a bit more to explore and even had a cool tree growing out of a head at the rear entrance!

 

 

 

 

East Mebon was next. This was a little run down, with some small towers and elephant statues. You could walk around some of the inside walls and explore the buildings and ruins within. I loved getting into these kind of temples!

 

 

 

Pre Rup was last on the list for the day. It was in good condition and was similar to East Mebon. I could climb up a number of steep steps and get amongst lots of towers with small bricks. Another great one and hardly anyone there!

 

 

 

 

 

So with that it was getting on in the day and I was done! There were MANY more temples I could explore but that would mean getting out further from the complex, and sadly that would have to wait for another visit. I did want to do another quick stop by Angkor Wat as it dawned on me that I never did the classic walk in from the front. So the driver let me do a quick stop by to wander in. Yes, it was the classic touristy view, but it really is stunning.

With that it was back to the hotel. I was exhausted and a little templed out, and probably ready to head home. So a quiet night to myself with some dinner and my Cambodian adventure had come to an end.

03
Mar

Sunrise at Angkor

By: muttler

 

28/01/2019 – Angkor (32km riding)

The day had finally arrived. ANGKOR! The main reason for my whole trip really.

We had an early start… 4am to be exact. You can’t come to Angkor and not do a sunrise really, especially given that part of the design of the temple is to be stunning for sunrise and sunset. So up we got and went to get our park tickets. Entry is quite tightly controlled now, with tickets with your photo to be kept on you at al times. We got those nice and early and headed into the temple complex to get a spot for sunrise.

 

 

Cham took us to a quieter spot… not the typical spot close to the front. We had a little bit of distance, and while it was quieter there was still certainly a lot of people there by sunrise. I was quite overwhelmed by it all. It had been many years that I had wanted to get to Angkor, so to see Angkor Wat in its glory was quite something. We sat and watched the sun come up and soaked it all in.

Given it was still quite early, we made our way back to the hotel for breakfast and to get our bikes. No point exploring Angkor on foot or tuk tuk when you have bikes!

So we geared up and did the cycle to Angkor , starting back at Angkor Wat. Rather than go in the front, we went in the back entrance which was more quiet. We got to wander in with a little more serenity before exploring the temple fully with Cham and 1000s of other tourists.

I can’t really say too much except that I found my whole time at Angkor pretty magical. I instantly regretted only allowing 2 days to explore, but oh well. I guess I would come back. I just enjoyed the time I had.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So we spent about 2hr in Angkor Wat, marvelling at the structure and the carvings.

We then jumped back on the bikes to cycle to Angkor Thom. The Angkor complex is quite massive, so on foot is quite daunting. But bikes made it so much fun, as we could scoot around in the woods and then also along the outer wall of Angkor Thom which was great. It is about 1.5km on each side, so to cycle rather than trek in the heat was a great way to do it.

 

 

 

 

Bayon exists within Angkor Thom and was my favourite of the day. Many hundreds of stone heads graced the temple and it was absolutely stunning and fascinating.

 

 

Back on the bikes again to cycle to the next most popular temple, and within close proximity to the others, Ta Prom. Outside of Angkor Wat itself, this is the most recognisable, being the temple with the trees growing out of it. Yep, the Tomb Raider temple. I found this one the least compelling, but it was indeed quite visually striking.

We had some time to explore and then have a very late lunch before we cycled back to Siem Reap. We were hot from our riding and exploring, so what better thing to do than jump in the pool with a drink?! We did some relaxing and then out for dinner. Sadly it was the farewell dinner, as the tour was technically all done. Much of the group was disappearing the next day, so it was unlikely I was going to see many the next day. The make up of this group was quite a bit different to other G Adventures groups I had been part of in the past, but it was a great group. Everyone was a great cyclist meaning when you ride a few hundred kilometres and need everyone to be on it, we were always riding strong and everyone was looking out for each other. So it really was quite a perfect group.

Cham was a top tour leader too, which I now expect from G Adventures. Fun, super knowledgable, and always looking after us… we could not have had better.

 

 

Our night was like most… dinner followed by more cheeky drinks before we said our farewells this time. I would have one more day of adventure ahead.