On the next day I wanted to take the first bus from Bangkok to Siem Reap. Sadly, there was no early boat to bring me to the skytrain station. In addition, I lost time because I jumped of the bus too early and I didn’t find the right bus terminal which lies hidden behind a market. The bus takes approx. 8h. The border of Cambodia is a well known place for scumm. So be aware and just get your stamps and go back to the bus.
I arrived in Siem Reap in the evening. I had no reservation for any hostel so I joint some guys from Australia who wanted to go to the Siem Reap Hostel. When we arrived there, it was booked out. So I made a reservation for the two nights after and went in a hotel over the street. There I had a double bed with private bathroom for the same price. But it was not that clean and I prefer to stay in hostel to get in contact with some people. After a shower I went out, told a tuk-tuk driver he should collect me at sunrise for Angkor Wat and scouted the surroundings. I went opposite of the center and it was very late so I was happy to find a local restaurant which was still open. Here I got one of the best meals of this trip: A giant beef steak perfect medium from the grill made up with oister sauce, rice, & salad. And like when eating pad thai you can pimp everything with lemon gras, chili and bread crumbs. In addition he made a spicy sauce similar to wasabi for me. He wanted 4$ including 3 beers.
Bridge at South Gate
Below the terrace of elephants
On the next day the driver took me to place where I had to buy a ticket. The sun was already coming up when we crossed the bridge. So we were too late for photographing Angkor Wat during sunrise. But no problem we drove to some temples. It is still allowed to climb up some temples and it feels perfect being there alone. But this just lasted until the first flood of people from Angkor Wat was coming inside. In the reason of the crowdedness even in off-season I wanted to get fast to places farer away. The area over which the temples are spread is enormous. So I asked the driver which is the best photo motif during sunset. He told me the ladies temple. “So lets drive there!” But he didn’t want to cause it was 37km away and he has a tuk-tuk, no car. But I could argue I would drive with him the next day and so after some of the other temples and lunch we drove there.
After a first tour I found this temple is pretty but very small compared to others I had seen before. I decided to stay until dusk, but it was 14.30. So I had a lot of time. I wait with the parc rangers and had a conversation with one who spoke quiet good english, about Cambodian mariage. In the evening the police took over, I did my shots and drove back. From the tuk-tuk I photographed kids playin’ soccer, people having barbecue at the streets and the lights of the “million” scooters on the cities main street. Although the city earns lots of money by the tourists, the signs of poverty are everywhere. At the hostel I had to bring my stuff up in the 6 bed room and went out for dinner and some beers with 2 girls from London.
Ladys temple (Banteay Srei)
The day after we drove to Angkor Wat to photograph it at sunrise. The crowd here was immense. The temple just opens after sunrise so all have to stay outside and watch the sunrise. The sun goes up right behind it and the view from the highest tower is worth waiting. Here one can see some monkey which are very clever and aggressive thieves from tourists. Also you can find some of them with their families outside the north gate.
I finished the rest of the temples until lunch, but I hurried a lot. I loved the place but the amount of people on such a huge area in off-season I didn’t expect. This often distracts me from taking good pictures. In addition, it was even hotter this day and the smock was incredible high here too. Not a single cloud and always a grey sky which is crazy if you consider you are in the jungle. If you see the image below of the tree and wonder why it has a blue sky. That’s f16 combined with the power of RAW (just reduce lights, I usually do No and in very rare case a bit of color correction).
After lunch I decided to take the bus back to Bangkok. When arrived I drove back into the city center to have beer at Khao San Road and bought a ticket for the night bus and morning ferry from Bangkok via Chumphon to Ko Tao. Before I entered the bus I grapped a lot of the fantastic and cheap street food as proviant for the tour. But it was gone before I entered the bus. (I shared it with some other guys waiting for it.)