A Rough Guide To Biking Siem Reap

You don’t have to wear a helmet if you decide to bike to Angkor Wat; you’re already courting death the moment you slip into the cascade of cars and scooters and motorcycle-pulled carriages arcing over the brown river or barreling down the dirt roads to the temples past ramshackle shacks of rusting corrugated iron, endless forests of towering trees to the left and to the right of the long winding road of tar, and, finally, the Jurassic Park-like sign that reads: WELCOME TO ANGKOR in light blue English and light blue Khmer. It’s possible to race the tuktuks and impress your fellow tourists, who lack a method of burning off all the pork they’ve packed onto their bellies back in town, and, combined with spelunking in the ruins and a nice healthy cancerous dose of solar radiation, people will begin to mistake you for a waterfall by midafternoon, when the sky whitens and the shadows burn up and vanish. I must finally mention, in this brief touristy note, that the hard seat will make you feel as if an elephant has had its way with you, and the bike’s bell will warn off the resident population of monkeys, principally concentrated near the stupefying entrance to the Bayon, at least when I was there.

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