Cambodia: Ancient Stairway To Heaven

Slowly we began to increase our cycling distances, today's trip to Sra'aem would be around 50 km.

The main road didn't hold any more surprises by now, just had to be careful with the yellow minivans whose drivers probably drink continuously Red Bull...

Breakfast along the road, another version of the rice soup and sweet coffee.

2 photogenic locally built trucks!

On Google Maps we had noticed this large grid along the main road just before Sra'aem.

From the above you might have expected a modern brand new satellite town, but reality turned out to be more modest....

Sra'aem boasts several guest houses and we quickly checked in at Chhouk Tep GH.

Most houses and shops here have large collections of massive wooden furniture and decorations, such as this smiling Buddha (with a couple of mini versions)...

At a nearby restaurant we noticed one of the dreaded yellow minivans unloading a large number of monks.

They ended up having lunch at the same restaurant, not sure who arranged their seating...

We didn't see this tuk tuk version in any of the other Cambodian towns we'd visited this year.

Witness a very pleased Tim, at last we managed to score Ganzberg Beer!

Previously we'd only seen massive posters advertising it, but nowhere on sale...

Shortly afterwards we were approached by Mr. Roth, a friendly taxi driver, with whom we arranged a round trip to Preah Vihear temple as we didn't feel comfortable with the idea of cycling 2 times 31 km...

Mr. Roth showed me a local tourist brochure which was 'interesting' to read.

Unfortunately I knew already that neither Tim nor Ray would ever refer to any of our trips as being organized 'under my brilliant, correct and wise leadership'!

After buying the tickets (no passports necessary) we asked Mr. Roth to drop us off at the beginning of the Ancient Stairway.

Although some parts were made with (large!) stones, most of it was made from wood in 2009-2010!

480 steps done, 1962 steps to go....

Views were breathtaking, but it was a long way up.

Break time!

Massive trees along the stairway.

After a good 1 1/2 hours upwards we'd arrived at the first part of Preah Vihear!

I have seen quite a lot of Khmer temple ruins over the years, but Preah Vihear is among the top 10 for sure!

Walking around and trying to comprehend this enormous temple complex made us ignore all muscle pains from the way up!

Lichen covered stone carvings.

There were a lot of monks visiting, all of them in bright orange robes.

Stone covered passage way.

Break time.

Stone causeway with some pillars on the sides.

Going down the Ancient Stairway was much harder, I could feel my legs turning to jelly halfway...

Mr. Roth was waiting for us as agreed and drove us straight back to our guest house.

For the remainder of the day we took it very, very easy, only going out for dinner and beer!

The MapMyRide above shows the cycling route and the one beneath the walk downwards along the Ancient Stairway, note the elevation!

P.s. Ray just started his version of our trip, check it out here:

https://mainlythai.shutterchance.com/

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