Our next stop was Seam Riep, the nearest town to the temples at Angkor. These temples are 1000 year old remnants of the Angkorian Empire, which at it's height spanned parts of Thailand, Cambodia and Laos. Angkor was the heart of the Empire and every king in charge took it upon themselves to outdo their predecessors with big palaces and temples to their gods. The area became absolutely littered with these ancient buildings, some of them mind bogglingly massive but then it was all forgotten about until some French bloke on an elephant stumbled across one of them, and was then let into the secret by the local tribes. This discovery happened around a century ago, and since then UNESCO and other world heritage organisations have been slowly doing them up and making them safe for the hordes of tourists to trample over.
We bought a three day ticket and saw about a dozen temples, ranging in size from that of a small town to a couple of small towers. We hired a Tuc-Tuc which stayed with us for the three days and plied the roads that linked the temples together - our own personal chauffeur, and a bargain at $10 per day. Having said that, our driver was hopeless and we were constantly struggling to make him understand where we wanted to go next, often giving up in despair as he'd turn the Tuc-Tuc and head in the totally wrong direction. This meant that we saw a few extra temples that we hadn't planned though so it was all good.
The temples are quite breathtaking, the largest - Angkor Wat is surrounded by a huge moat, and includes several swimming pools inside it. Other temples have Giant faces on each of the four sides of all their towers. A few of the temples had been so lost to the jungle that today there are massive centuries' old trees growing through them, weaving over and under and sitting atop the structures. These trees, which are so ancient themselves really give perspective to the age of the buildings they found root in as seeds. The whole reason we came to Cambodia at all was because of a picture we had seen of this in the Cameron Highlands. We did not leave disappointed.
Our weather showed the first signs of the approaching wet season while we were at Angkor. Although still stiflingly hot, there were a few showers. They were heavy but only lasted an hour or so. By the end of our few days the sky had settled into an even grey blanket, which brought a little relief from the heat. On one evening as we sat in a restaurant waiting for dinner (Cambodian table service is the slowest we have ever seen - 10 minutes after ordering, your drink will come, and a further 15 minutes later the first meal that's ready will arrive at the table, a replacement drink then taking a further 10 minutes to arrive) a lightning storm arrived above the tourist town and dropped a deluge upon the street, sending diners running from their street-side tables. In only 10 minutes, we watched the water level rise from zero to above the height of the kerbs, and wondered if would would come further still into the restaurants. It didn't, and an hour and a half later we could walk home without too much peril.
We spent a further day in Seam Riep to arrange our onward travel and see a little bit more of the town itself. That done, we headed to the Thai border the next day, a three hour car journey north on a dirt road, and re-entered Thailand where a bus to Bangkok and then straight onto a sleeper train would deliver us north to Chang Mai, the second largest city in Thailand.