Temple Run is a relentlessly addictive pc sport. The idea is straightforward sufficient. You’ve stolen a cursed idol from an historical crumbling temple and now you must run in your life to flee the evil monkeys gnashing at your heels. The temple run I’m doing, nevertheless, is way slower, far much less frantic and it solely incorporates a handful of snoozing macaques. However it’s so infinitely extra life-affirming.
The temples I’m jogging spherical are the colossal stays of town of Angkor, sometimes called the eighth marvel of the world. Nothing fairly prepares you for the mind-blowing magnitude and timeless great thing about the complicated. Between the ninth and 15th centuries, Angkor was the capital of the triumphalist Khmer empire. On the peak of its energy it was house to an estimated 1 million folks. Against this, the inhabitants of London at the moment was 50,000. Rebellions, sackings, migration and crop failure lastly compelled its abandonment and, because the folks moved out, the jungle shortly moved in, smothering the carved stones with snaking roots and thick foliage.

Daybreak patrol … Martin Love enjoys the solitude of a morning run at Angkor
After a number of hundred years, Angkor was “found” by French explorers within the 19th century and its temples slowly grew to become one of many main attracts of Asia. Within the first few months the location was “open” in 1868, an estimated 200 folks visited (this was within the days earlier than TripAdvisor). These days greater than 2 million vacationers tramp across the monuments yearly.
On this explicit morning, nevertheless, I’ve the place to myself. It’s 5am and I’m about to run 25km alongside the forest tracks and slender roads that hyperlink the temples. My route will roughly comply with the historic Petit Circuit, a path that at all times was undertaken by elephant. Starting at Angkor Wat, I’ll take within the big-hitters of Angkor Thom, Ta Prohm, Bayon and Banteay Kdei, in addition to a number of the extra minor however equally astonishing buildings of Baphoun, the Terrace of the Leper King and the Terrace of the Elephants, earlier than returning to Angkor Wat. The run isn’t an official occasion – removed from it. It’s been laid on for me as a visitor of the close by Anantara resort in Siem Reap. I’m, in actual fact, the one entrant – which handily means I’m a useless cert for the gold. Becoming a member of me for my solo journey is Boray the tuktuk driver.

Right here comes the solar … the lake at Srah Srang. {Photograph}: Stephane Noiret/Getty Photographs
With Angkor Wat behind me, I begin to trot into the darkish. It’s very heat and the one sound is the quiet puttering of Boray’s assist tuktuk. I don’t suppose I’ve ever run anyplace so atmospheric. Boray factors out the route and sometimes arms me a freezing chilly face flannel. It’s highly regarded and I’m moist with sweat. I’ve to maintain stopping, not for breath however simply to gawp in amazement.
After greater than an hour we cease by a shimmering expanse of water often known as Srah Srang. It was hacked out of the jungle greater than 1,000 years in the past as a washing lake for the god-king Rajendravarman II. Boray unpacks a easy breakfast picnic for me – tropical fruit, yogurt and plenty of water. We sit and watch the solar ease itself up into the sky. We’re joined by some monkeys and a decrepit little canine who’s so delighted to be stroked that she giddily bounces together with me afterwards, glancing over her shoulder.
I run on and on, passing increasingly temples – every a teetering stack of stones piled on one another like an enormous sport of Jenga. Lastly, after virtually three hours, I discover myself again initially at Angkor Wat. Boray grins and arms me an ice-cold Coke. I inform him it’s probably the greatest runs of my life. He nods fortunately, however I don’t suppose he has any thought what I’m jabbering about. He says he’s by no means been for a run…

Placing down roots … huge bushes take over the temple of Ta Prohm the place Tomb Raider was filmed. {Photograph}: Paul Biris/Getty Photographs
I climb into his tuktuk and Boray drops me again on the resort. There, I discover my spouse additionally immersing herself within the marvels of early Cambodian tradition. She’s having a 90-minute Khmer therapeutic massage courtesy of the resort. She’s needed to placed on a comfortable all-in-one gown and has then been given a vigorously therapeutic workover. Later, over an enormous breakfast of croissants and recent fruit, she says she feels exhausted. Her therapeutic massage “went on for ages”.
Later that day and all the subsequent, we return to the temples. Watching the solar rise over Angkor Wat could be on the bucket checklist of nearly each vacationer in southeast Asia, however that doesn’t make it any much less skin-tinglingly spectacular. Our information e-book instructed us to keep away from daybreak as that’s when it was most crowded, however unusually we discovered the other – and the daybreak brings its personal immutable magic.

Make the leap … the swimming pool on the Anantara Angkor resort in Siem Reap
Solely 28 temples might be visited, but it surely’s estimated there are about 1,000 strewn throughout the jungle. Town of Angkor would have been a medieval metropolis. Its scale is mind-boggling. It’s thought Angkor Wat, one of the crucial well-known spiritual buildings on the planet, was heaved into existence by a labour pressure of 300,000 folks and 6,000 elephants. However the Wat isn’t even the most important development – that honour goes to Angkor Thom. Set over 10 sq km, it’s enclosed by an 8m-high wall that skirts a 100m-wide moat in a gargantuan 13km sq.. At its centre is the weird edifice of Bayon. It was the state temple of Jayavarman VII – identified by all of the guides as J 7, which makes him sound like a boy band or an alcopop. Bayon has 54 crumbling towers embossed with 216 huge and enigmatically smiling faces. Then there may be 1.2km of bas-reliefs incorporating greater than 11,000 figures. Along with your eyes nonetheless bulging, you exit and stumble in the direction of Ta Prohm. That is the temple, devoured by the jungle, which featured in Tomb Raider, starring Angelina Jolie.
Angkor is a marvel of the traditional world, however up to date Cambodia has rather more going for it than simply these charismatic stones. After just a few days within the city of Siem Reap, we catch the bus to Battambang, the nation’s third metropolis. With its genteel colonial structure (Cambodia was a French protectorate till 1953), it’s a chaotic combination of laid-back cafés, bustling markets, backpacker hostels and up-and-coming galleries. It’s additionally the place Angelina Jolie owns a home.

Pile ’em excessive … a vibrant market in Cambodia. {Photograph}: Alamy
However we’re in no temper for movie star tradition. For us the massive thrill is the native bat cave. Only a few miles exterior city is Phnom Sampeu, a scrappy rock face that’s house to greater than 1m wrinkle-lipped bats – one of many largest colonies on the planet. Come nightfall, they stream out of the fissures within the cliff and head to the fields (or as our information jokes “to the nightclub”) to get to work consuming bugs and pests. There are such a lot of it takes greater than half an hour for all of them to fly previous.
From Battambang we head to the capital. Even after 10 days acclimatising to Cambodia, the color, warmth, noise, dust and pandemonium of Phnom Penh takes your breath away – it’s not a lot an assault on the senses as an all-out punch-up. However the power is infectious. Scooters weave all over the place carrying something from youngsters to monks and dwell chickens to useless pigs. Aside from sitting on a stool on the market consuming one thing unusual (anybody for barbecued rats or deep-fried tarantulas?), the 2 architectural gems you possibly can’t miss are the Royal Palace, with its 90kg solid-gold Buddha, and the Silver Pagoda, so known as as a result of it has 5,000 1.1kg silver flooring tiles. You might have walked on sunshine earlier than, however that is the one time you’ll ever stroll on strong silver.

‘Managed chaos’ … a road scene in Phnom Penh. {Photograph}: Tom Cockrem/Getty Photographs
The ultimate vacation spot of our journey is Tuol Sleng – the highschool which Pol Pot’s troopers become a torture camp in 1975. In three years greater than 17,000 folks had been held on the jail, and of those solely seven survived. Visiting is a profoundly miserable and unsettling expertise. It chills you even within the sizzling tropical solar. The reign of the Khmer Rouge has forged a protracted and traumatic shadow over Cambodia. It’s estimated that via hunger and executions a minimum of one in 4 of the inhabitants died. Our information tells us that three of his brothers starved to dying and 16 of household had been murdered. He had been eight years outdated when his household needed to flee the capital for his or her lives.
It’s precisely 40 years for the reason that evil regime was overthrown. And regardless of the bloodshed and brutality, the doubtful management and the years of poverty, Cambodia’s folks, extremely, are nonetheless smiling.
Solution to go
Suites at Anantara Angkor in Siem Reap begin from £190 B&B. The temple run prices £75. Thai Airways flies from London to Phnom Penh return from £510.
On observe: three extra holidays mixing jogging and nice areas
The Kenya Expertise Iten is named the ‘Residence of Champions’, so prodigious is its output of Olympians. It’s additionally the location of this two-week operating expertise, the place you can be educated in Kenyan strategies by skilled coaches and proven the most effective trails by native guides. Positioned 2,400m above sea degree above the Nice Rift Valley, it’s not solely stunning however best terrain for endurance coaching. • From £1,200, traininkenya.com
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