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My Best Road Trip: A wet and wild adventure to Angkor Wat

This week’s best road trip sees Liam and Victoria Casey tackle Cambodia in a tuk-tuk during monsoon season.

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  • Each week, TheJournal.ie/DoneDeal motoring mag will feature a reader’s best road trip. If you’d love to see your top trip featured, email us on melanie@thejournal.ie

MY BEST ROAD trip was a wet tuk-tuk trip to Angkor Wat in Cambodia.

Who: Liam and Victoria Casey, Waterford, www.a2zoftheworld.com
Route: Bangkok, Thailand to Siem Reap, Cambodia
Distance: 430km
Time: Six days
When: July 2015
Vehicle: Tuk-tuk

After leaving the hustle and bustle of Bangkok behind us, we headed for Siem Reap in Cambodia, home of Angkor Wat, which is the largest religious monument in the world and which was next on our list. We headed cross-country to the border of Thailand and Cambodia. Once we left Thailand, we entered an area known as no man’s land and after a short while here we entered the Kingdom of Cambodia.

Crossing into Cambodia was an interesting experience, to say the least. After travelling on dirt tracks and seeing the country’s poverty first hand it was surreal arriving at the border and seeing casinos adorned in gold window coverings. It is the Vegas of South East Asia right there in the middle of nowhere. Being in no man’s land, as such, anything went and it was not uncommon to see a few Thai baht being slipped under the counter to ensure you move up the passport check queue a little faster.

Source: Liam Casey

The Kingdom of Cambodia spans low-lying plains, mountain ranges and the gulf of Thailand. On the dirt roads of Cambodia, you could see tuk-tuks piled high with questionable loads, which if they were spotted in the western world you would definitely have received a few penalty points for unbalanced loads and too many passengers. You could also see people sitting outside their raised homes tending to their families and animals, selling wears and grinning from ear to ear. Cambodians were by far the politest and most grateful people we met on our trip around South East Asia. They were a delight to be around.

Some 400 kilometres later we arrived in Siem Reap just before nightfall. Our tuk-tuk driver Sokha – pronounced ‘soh kaa’ – took us to our hotel. That night we ate a traditional Cambodian meal of chicken, rice and local veg; a simple but satisfying meal.

Source: Liam Casey

At 3.30am Sokha collected us from our hotel and we got into the tuk-tuk and set off to Angkor Wat. It dates back to the 12th century and spans over 400 acres, so there is a lot of ground to cover. However, the weather in Cambodia in July means only one thing: the wet season. Courtesy of the south-west monsoon, Cambodia has 75% of its annual rainfall between July and September. Sometimes it can rain two out of three days (just to remind you we were still in Cambodia and not Ireland). We seemed to have planned our visit to Angkor Wat on the wettest day of the year. Huddled in the back of our tuk-tuk we were drenched in warm rain, which made a change from the cold rain. However, the weather did not dampen our spirits.

Source: Liam Casey

Arriving in Angkor Wat just before sunrise we could see this was the most popular time to visit; not only is it cooler but you get to see the sun rise over this magnificent feat of architecture. On our self-guided tour, we came across numerous different shrines where you light an incense stick and leave a small offering, usually just a few Cambodian riels. This money is used for the upkeep of the temples and by contributing it is said that you make merit with your God. Even if you are a non-believer just see as it as a donation to the upkeep of the temples.

Source: Liam Casey

Once we finished our tour, some six or seven hours later, we headed back to our hotel. On the way, we came across a part of the road known for its wild monkeys and the further we went down the road the more and more monkeys we saw. Getting out of the tuk-tuk, we could see that these monkeys were cheeky. They would run over to us then leg it off again, we could see the mammies and daddies and their babies. If we could have taken one home we would have. They were foraging on the side of the road for berries and plants to take to their young. There were at least 200 monkeys just hanging out.

Source: Liam Casey

All in all, this was a great road trip. We continued on from Angkor Wat to Phnom Penh then further south onto Ho Chi Minh in Vietnam. Anyone heading to South East Asia should give themselves a month or two to enjoy this beautiful Kingdom. The people are so welcoming and love to have tourists visit, they really could not do any more for you, and they are most gracious people I have ever met.

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Liam Casey

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