A couple of weeks ago some friends and I hired mountain bikes to spend a day at the temples. As like most days in recent weeks, it was searingly hot, so we left the city nice and early – after an even earlier yoga class for me too!
The ride to the temples is so nice, the traffic wasn’t too busy and for the first time I saw monkeys! I was somewhat disheartened to see them eating chips out of a foil packet.
We grabbed our tickets and made our first stop at Angkor Wat. It was nice to go back and with a sense of familiarity we went straight in for the pinnacle, which was already closed for the day last year when I’d visited. Everyone in town has been talking about how dry the wet season has been this year and this was obvious to me seeing the ponds inside the temple grounds, which last year were substantially fuller.
Our next stop was Bayon, the temple with the faces and we made our way round and looked at the four main sides, each containing its own Buddha and offerings; I wondered how the ancestors of the guy placing his offering came to an end… coke and cigarettes.
It was a nice experience to visit the temples with some friends and after a brief lunch stop, we made the one hour ride round to Ta Prom. The last time I’d visited it was pouring with rain, so it was nice to have a better look around. I was still thinking about the monks that I imagined when I last visited.
By this stage, I was struggling with a headache from the heat, the sun was starting to set and we still have at least a half hour ride back to town (and no bike lights!). We made for the exit and would have made it, only, we’d gone out the other side to where we had left our bikes! The guard wouldn’t allow us to cut back through and so we had to grab a tuk tuk back around to the other side.
Finally reunited with our bikes, all starting to feel a bit exhausted and the knowledge of a 14km ride along a very bumpy road was not an exciting prospect. We got into it and went as quickly as we could, it wasn’t long before the sunlight was completely gone and just after passing a 10km to Siem Reap sign and thinking ‘i’m gonna make it!’, I didn’t see a huge pothole and ended up busting up my tyre completely.
Whilst regrouping on the side of the road and trying to figure out how to get back without totally destroying the wheel of the bike, I tried my luck at flagging a tuk tuk. Within seconds my shining tuk tuk driver arrived! He already had a passenger but obviously a lot of empathy and they let me and the bike aboard. Even more than this, he drove the tuk tuk close behind my friends to give them enough light to see and get back to town safely! What a star!
The adventure ended with beers and burgers and a lesson to leave a bit earlier next time.