As part of our pre trip bookings, we organised two bike rides in Siem Reap in Cambodia. Well if I am honest, I booked two bike rides and casually mentioned to Ruth that we would do a little biking in Cambodia.
The ride around Angkor Archaeological Park was showing early promise. At 5:10am there was no sign of the sun, it was not raining, the temperature was a cool 27c, there were only four of us plus a guide, perfect riding looked to be in store.
We had seen the sunset crowds at Santorini so were well prepared for the sunrise mobs at Angkor Wat. There were a lot of early risers, the Tuk Tuk traffic on the road to the park was heavy but there is plenty of space at Angkor Wat and there are a number of strategic spots where the crowds congregate for their sunrise selfies, so no one spot was unbearably crowded.
We don’t normally bother with guides but in Vietnam and Cambodia we thought it wise, given our predilection to getting lost. It is one thing to get lost in a benign country but entirely more serious matter to get lost in less hospitable terrain. Our guide in Vietnam had helpfully told Ruth that there were lots of big snakes in Cambodia, especially cobra, so she was of the view that it would be far safer to just walk around shops than go anywhere where a snake could be hanging out. Anyway, I am digressing, the guide (Angkor Wat guide) knew all the strategic photo opportunity spots to visit and, the precise moment to be there, to get those great Angkor sunrise shots. He also knew a lot of other things, spoke several languages and seemed to have an endless supply of water so we got to really appreciate his services.
The only problem with a sunrise is that once it has risen, burnt off the few clouds around, it gets hot, very hot.
Som (our guide) said that it was much cooler now as it was nearly winter. We did not think 32c was particularly winter like and our bodies seemed to think that it was necessary for natures cooling system to be turned onto the highest possible setting.The soft sand that we were biking through required a little more effort to propel the bike along.
So while we were happy that the day was to be one of our first completely dry days for some time, the results were similar to having been caught in one of those sudden torrential downpours. In fact we probably would have been very thankful for a downpour so that we could fall into and drink the pooling water.
Our goal of getting an overview of the layout and scale of the site was met and we noted the areas we would return to later.We also spent a lot of the time in areas where there were no other visitors, in fact we felt like explorers riding through the narrow jungle trails.
Fortunately, the ride was not too far, we did get to dismount and look through some of the sites and although we had plenty of breaks, we struggled to get enough water intake to counter the rate of water loss. Ruth started to get a bit dehydrated. She always tells me; that because she is short she has to work twice as hard as anyone else.
We enjoyed breakfast in a jungle setting and lunch was later provided in more normal restaurant. There was some barely intelligible lunchtime conversations attempted between gulping down any cold drink in sight. Would we do it again, most probably, whether walking or biking it is going to get hot and, on the bike we were able to see far more than we would have on foot. Ruth did not get to the “I am never getting on a bike again stage” although she has been asking some challenging questions about our planned countryside ride on Sunday. I am using the winter argument rather unconvincingly and trying to be very vague about the distance. I am not sure that this approach is working very well.
We got back to our hotel around 3pm. Ruth finished with a triple S (swim, shower and sleep).