Tuesday 21 February: One of my favourite places in the world: good accommodation and food, reasonably priced Aussie and French wines ($4 plus), cheap draft Angkor beer ($0.5), stunning ancient Khmer ruins, modern Buddhist temples, plus six-nations rugby on TV, I'm going to stay here for a while.
Wednesday 22: Wat Bo is locked but the temple grounds, filled with numerous multi-coloured stupa, make it worthwhile.In the evening many hawkers congregate at the night market where I pick-up a Lonely Planet guidebook of Cambodia for just $3, it's a fake of course, the pages are photocopies of an original book but it's well finished and good enough for my purposes.
Thursday 23: Hiring a bicycle for the day ($1) I peddle, 12km east along busy National Highway 6, to the Roluos group of temples, then turn north along country lanes to Eastern Beray and thus I get into the Angkor Wat group of temples through the back door. It's enjoyable cycling around the ruins but, as I don't have a ticket, I'm unable to enter individual sites. No problem, I've seen all the temples before. It's a great cycle ride and I try to navigate my way to West Beray, but my maps are poor and I end up at the airport. It's hot, I'm tired and thirsty, so I head for home.
Friday 24: While walking north along Siem reap river to Wat Preah Inkosei I pop into Angkor in Miniature, a stone sculptor's garden filled with rock-carved temples, where you can climb onto the roof and take aerial photos for a fraction of the price of a balloon ride. The wat is pretty good with a gleaming Buddha and colourful frescos depicting key moments from his life.
Saturday 25: Red Lodge has gone downhill since my last visit so, with time to check-out several other options, I move to the Mandalay Inn, complete with a rooftop multi-gym, a much better deal. Cycling south along the Siem Reap river towards the Tonle Sap I eventually reach Phnom Krom hilltop in time for dusk. It's too cloudy for a proper sunset but some of the sun dappled clouds are could be oils on canvas.
Wednesday 29: Finally I manage to find my way to West Beray, a huge man-made lake which makes the moats of European castles, built around the same time, look like muddy puddles. Peddling back I stop at Prasat Ta Noreay, a modern temple on the lakeside, then pass through Bayon and Angkor Wat grounds again before arriving back in Siem Reap.
My hotel of choice is the Mandalay Inn - clean en-suite ($7) with TV, double-aspect window, free wifi and unnecessary hot shower.
Photos in and around Siem Reap and some from July 2010:
Angkor's Grand Tour
Angkor's Petit Tour
Banteay Srei and beyond