Monday, 17 March 2014
The main reason to visit Siem Reap is the nearby temples of Angkor, relics of the vast Khmer Empire that stretched across South East Asia from the 9th to 15th Century AD. It’s something of a modern myth that the temples were subsequently lost in the jungle, and the civilisation that built them forgotten, until they were rediscovered in the 19th Century by French colonial archaeologists.
Sunday, 16 March 2014
|An early morning view of Angkor Wat, seen just after sunrise|
© Andy Brown/Cambodia/2012
After leaving Luang Prabang, Joyce and I continued our overground trip by bus instead of boat. Our next stop was Vang Vieng, a beautiful riverside town backed by craggy cliffs that was somewhat spoilt by hordes of teenage backpackers getting drunk or high and ‘tubing’ down the river in tractor tyres. There were bars selling ‘happy meals’ laced with cannabis, and ‘super happy meals’ laced with opium. All this would have been fine on a party island like Ibiza, but felt somewhat inappropriate in rural Laos.
Out of town, however, we had great opportunities for mountain biking, kayaking and even a spectacular hot air balloon ride up the valley at sunset. We flew high over the river, then low over fields and villages. Trees cast long shadows and children chased the balloon, waving and shouting ‘sabai dee’ (hello in Lao).