Siem Reap from a tuktuk driver’s perspective (part I)
Worn out after the six hour bus ride from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap but not tired enough to go to sleep, we took a Tuktuk driver and gave him a task: to show us around your city till sunset. Chang, the tuktuk driver, enjoyed the freedom but was struggling with responsibility and started driving very slowly because nothing came to mind.
Finally, we proposed some temples. Glad he had a clear destination, Chang showed us the wats along the way, one by one. There are so many little wats in Siem Reap! Most are not mentioned in the guidebooks for a reason :) However, it was a relaxing ride to see Siem Reap’s quiet and almost empty side, as tourists only come here to go to Angkor Wat and hang out at crowded Pub Street in the centre of town.
After the temples Chang had set a plan and sped up the drive. Chang is a great fan of soccer and volleyball, so he shared his passion and took us to all volleyball and soccer fields in Siem Reap he knew. At his favorite volleyball spot he stopped, led us to the square where he practices and cleared the field for a match with Tomek. Spirited and content introducing the new volleyball player to his friends.
Chang showing us the first wat we came across.
Temples are only to be entered barefoot.
Tomek is about to take in the history of Wat Preah Prohm Rath, which is to remember a ‘wonderful event’ in 1900 b.c. as one ‘monk with freshly cooked rice in his pot’ (that literally being the name of the wat) traveling by boat was attacked by sharks but didn’t sink. The Buddha statue inside the pagoda is made of a wooden piece of that boat. What a story.
||And holy Buddha.
Patiently standing in line for Buddha.
What wat is this?
I think we stumbled upon Angkor Wat.
Caught a monk smoking while the other is doing his work.
Another decorative wat with a nice bell and a rather common hammer.
Some grow multiple heads, some grow multiple ears.
While monks are contemplating about the world – while children are complaining about missed throws – while craving the precious mango fruit – while I am passing by.
Childhood of a tutktuk driver – Chang went to school here.
Passing by that monk pinched Tomek’s belly – a form of reality check maybe.
That monk taught Chinese. It is what the children’s parents had decided for good job prospects in Cambodia.
Enough spirituality for the mind, now it’s turn for bodily fun.
Not a ball too high.
A dream sight for Chang – the wide soccer field.
That’s only half the story. Enjoy the other half in part II.