New Years Eve in Siem Reap – heaps of tourists of all colors crowding in the famous Pub- and Restaurant streets. Loud music from hugh speakers between the pubs, yet I find it rather hard to connect, hard to cope with. On the way back to our hotel, we dance on the street with some tuktuk drivers to the Cambodian pop music from their car stereo until the battery is empty. That's much more the spirit – happy New Year!
The center of Siem Reap which feels like a different planet compared to any other place we've been to in Cambodia so far. Roaming around, we find some local shops with reasonable prices for food a few kilometers away the Dollar-priced restaurants on the Old Market and feel more comfortable.
With 3 respectively 7 day Angkor passes we start our mission to visit a few of the countless temple sites that are scattered around Siem Reap on our bicycles. The paved road through the woods around the temples North of Siem Reap is crowded by Tuktuks and buses, yet quite pleasant to ride with lots of shadow. Few more tourists bother to explore the area by bicycle. We start with the “Big Loop”, visit only a few of the 1000 year old complexes of temple ruins. We marvel upon both, the skillful and rich decorated walls and the sheer size of the complexes as well as the mighty trees dwelling on the walls, reaching for the blue sky as well as the architects of these temples did. Certainly, this is impressive. Nature has taken over what man thought would last forever. How small are we under the skies, beneath the many hundred year old treetops? In front of the main attractions are small restaurants, shops and all sorts of salesman and -children, repeating their kind of pitying sales mantras: “Hello you buy water from me?” “You buy my book please”. Nevertheless, the restaurant shops are good shelters for the burning sun during lunchtime, and usually have hammocks in the back for a nap. With our little Khmer bargaining skills we manage to get descent prices for our meals. Taking it easy, sparing the main sites (Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom) for a later visit, we head for a temple on a hill for sunset. With stream of other tourist we slowly wander uphill, to find that Pyramid-shaped building with its big steep stairs as crowded as a festival location. Nice sunset anyway, and a sort of street-fight ride back to town between the buses and motorbikes and tuktuks in the dark.