Angkor Wat: The Grand Circuit

We get up at Onederz and walk the strip outside for a breakfast spot. “Tuk tuk, allo allo”, constantly everywhere you go here. We spot a neat looking place with lots of foliage around the outside of it called Annadya and go in to investigate.

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Seems to be a traditional Khmer place. We get seated with some menus. We’re the only people in the joint so I’m thinking breakfast isn’t their specialty. Nope, but the traditional dishes look good. I order up some sort of peppered pork dish and a pork dumpling dish called Mekong Purses, both of which end up being phenomenal. The pepper sauce on the side was killer.

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There are traditional tunes going on overhead but each one has some hilarious intro that sounds like a movie trailer. Sometimes it will be galloping horses, sometimes laser sci-fi sounds, all accompanied with grandiose music and then it will slowly ease in to some soft indigenous Khmer music. We started dubbing movie trailers over each sequence.

After breakfast we head back to Onederz to inquire about Angkor Wat tours at the front desk. They are ridiculously cheap. We were thinking it would be some racket like Machu Picchu but nope, we could basically do a sunset tour tonight and a sunrise tour tomorrow, the grand circuit and the small circuit, both for about 25 bucks. Sounds good!

Check out this Angkor whiteboard majesty!

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We kill an hour in the lounge waiting for things to kick off. A tiny Tuk tuk driver comes in and introduces himself as Ping Ping. He leads us out to his chariot and we’re off to Angkor Wat in Ping Ping’s Tuk Tuk (that’s so fun to say).

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We swing round the main ticketing area and get some passes to get in. It’s about 20 bucks a day.

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Well actually Angkor Wat will be the sunrise tour tomorrow, we just went cruising past Angkor Wat and through the south gate to the famous temple. The Grand Circuit tour that we’re on today is the outer most ‘ring’ of the temples in the large complex. Tomorrow we’ll be taken to all of the temples in the inner ‘ring’.

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Our first stop is the Preah Khan, aka Sacred Sword. A temple built in the 12th century by Jayavarman VII in honor of his father. It was built on the site of a major victory against the invading Chams in 1151 (Champa was a competing kingdom around this time that was based in what is now Vietnam and parts of Cambodia). The condition of the temples is impressive as well as just the sheer size and number of them. We get off the tuk tuk at our first stop and head inside, snap snap snappy everywhere. So damn cool.

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Won’t you join me?

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In the center of the temple is a small sculpture. There was a police guy there in uniform when Queenie and I walked up. He had a soft voice and spoke decent English. “Let me see your camera, here I’ll show you good picture.” I hand him my phone. There is one block missing from the temple wall letting light come through and he describes how if you take the picture this way it will look like your holding a flame. He snaps a couple of pictures for us. They’re hilarious.

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“Now over here, come see.” He takes us to a small crack in between two buildings, “Not many people go here. Let me see your camera. Yes, now look at each other. Yes. So handsome. So pretty”, snap snap snap. Queenie’s confused, “What’s happening?”, ohhhhhhh here it comes… Yes, he wants some money for these services. All we have are twenties of Ameribucks and there’s no way he’s getting that. “I can take Thai baht”, Queenie hands him 20 baht, “Oh but that is nothing, you see”, I have 3000 riel, which is about 75 cents, I hand it to him, “Oh this is also nothing”, “It’s all we have”, would you like nothing or actually nothing?, “Yes, thank you this is fine. Enjoy your day at Angkor Wat.”

Man this site is immensely impressing. The details preserved are amazing and the way the trees grow right out of the old ruins is just so picture perfect it’s hard to believe it’s not just a movie set.

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I wish this baller Slo Mo wolfpack pic of the group behind us was of us instead

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We walk through the temple from the west and out the east side where Ping Ping said he’d meet us with the tuk tuk. A cute young girl with a little basket rushes over to us, “You want magnet, one dollar”, “No thank you”, “Sir.. magnet one dollar”, “No I’m ok thanks”, “2 magnet one dollar”, “haha no thanks” we’re getting further from her station, “3 magnet one dollar, sir?”, “nope”, “4 magnet one dollar”, “still no”, “5 magnet one dollar!” and then she huffs and stomps and spins around back to hustle the next tourist.

Here she is heckling Drisdelle

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We exited the Preah area across this moss-slick road, slipping this way and that. It was so funny looking, I don’t know why I didn’t get a video. Probably because I could barely walk

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The heat of the day is coming on now and it feels like Chang o’clock. We ask Ping Ping if it’s ok to have road beers in the tuk tuk. He pantomimes that for us it is ok but not for him. “How many you drink?”, he wants to know how many beers I can drink, “How many Chang? geeeeez”, “I just have two , you probably 10.”

MacKay gets a round of road beers from a vendor and we pile back in the tuk tuk. “Music?”, Ping wants to know if we want music, “Music sure!”, “Ok”. He hops off and motions for MacKay and I to get out. There is an aux-in cord under the seat. Oh no.. I plug it into my phone chuckling to myself and shaking my head. This is a terrible idea. MacKay darts me a wicked glance as we clambor back in, “You thinking what I’m thinking?”, I’m scrolling through to an obvious choice, “Already on it.”

What did we put on? You have one guess. XXX Hip Hop!!! This is how we instantly skyrocketed to the biggest assholes at Angkor Wat.

It didn’t help that Ping Ping had the thing cranked (or maybe there’s only one setting), but when Lap Dance came on the speakers were busting at the seams. This was shocking for most everyone in a 5 mile radius who turned to glare at us in disdain and confusion. I really don’t think this is what Ping Ping had in mind when he said “Music”. The club thumping bass was thudding behind our heads in the little tuk tuk and we cracked our road beers, offering up a cheers as if we’d achieved some major victory. Well we did sort of. You can’t help but man-giggle at the absurdity of this whole scene.

We were rolling through Angkor Wat in deafeningly inappropriate style, explicit lyrics blasting from our tuk tuk, cans of Angkor beer raised in chortling triumph. When ‘Choke me, Spank me, Pull my hair’ came up next via some sort of shuffle miracle, our Ping Ping Tuk Tuk party kicked up into a whole new gear, “Angkor Whaaaaaaaaat?!”

Fortunately, the ride to the next temple was short and the music cut with the motor at just the right spot, “I don’t want to love you, I just want to fu..” …and the setting was serene again in the swampy jungle surrounding the ancient ruins.

Our next stop took us across a long boardwalk just inches above the swamp lands water. It led way way in to a circular temple that looked half submerged in the murky depths.

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It was time for a temple selfie!

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Back at the tuk tuk we were waiting for McBurger to hit the head. There was a giant red beetle crawling along the dirt next to us slightly too close for comfort. Damn, this thing looks menacing. We point it out to Ping Ping, “Oh, not good” is all he said. Then he made a motion like getting stung on the arm and shivering to death cold and alone with no one that loves you left in the world (Ping Ping’s mime skills are extraordinary). “C’mon MacKay, jeeeebuz! Ping Ping, let’s go!”

We do the temples fairly quickly. For the most part they all have a similar architecture and, not to be an uber-douche, we were getting temple fatigue.

Temples ma-ma-ma-ma-montage!!

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We head to the last spot, Pre Rup, for the sunset and we’re well ahead of schedule. We stop by a rice field. “Do you have these where you live?”, “No, no we don’t. She does.”

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We take a quick look around and we’re about ready to call it. We get another round of beers and sit with Ping Ping a moment outside Pre Rup. “You want to go to night market? Cambodia only night market?”, we don’t even know what this means but don’t have alternative plans, “Sure, night market.”

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