Curious villagers furrow their brows as the rumbling, rolling cloud of dust pummels its way along the Cambodian jungle road.
Could it be a mythical animal, stampeding towards them? No, those look like headlights. We’re close to Ta Prohm temple, where Lara Croft: Tomb Raider was set – so maybe it’s some very clever, Black Mirror-level augmented reality? No, this is certainly reality.
The cloud swoops past: it’s a convoy of Porsche Macan and Cayenne SUVs, and they’re here for the Porsche Adventure Drive 2016.
The journey begins in Siem Reap, the small town that serves as a gateway to Cambodia’s temples. It’s home to the Angkor Wat temple, the world’s largest religious monument, arguably Cambodia’s most famous landmark, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Siem Reap also offers plenty of other sites – in contrast to the fast-developing downtown area, there’s a completely different, wholly traditional world.
Unlike other Southeast Asian countries closer to the equator, which typically have a more humid climate, Cambodia suffers from dry heat. It feels more like a desert than a tropical paradise. Thankfully, it gets cooler at night when the quasi-explorers stop for dinner at the Prasat Kravan temple, close to Angkor Wat. Built in the 10th century, it’s one of Cambodia’s oldest temples.
Early the next morning, the group sets off into the Cambodian countryside. The Cayenne SE-Hybrid, Cayenne, Macan and Macan S have all been brought along, with each comfortably passing over the unpaved roads and rocky terrain.
The greater challenge, however, is negotiating the Cambodian traffic, which can be described as tricky at best. Once out of downtown, the paved roads disappear and the scenery starts to change. Instead of colonial buildings and historic temples, you start to see vast swaths of paddy fields, dotted by the occasional village that the convoy passes through. With the dry spell, the usual lush green of the paddy plantations have been replaced by a pale brown.
As the day winds down, the group heads to the enchanting Ta Prohm temple, which is known to most visitors as the setting of the film Lara Croft: Tomb Raider. Nature has seemingly taken over this temple that was once used as a Buddhist monastery and university, with trees growing amongst the ruins.
On their way back to the busy downtown, the modern and sporty Porsche SUVs contrast against the backdrop of the Cambodian countryside. Siem Reap is a place that offers plenty in the way of historical treasures, and the stories it tells makes it a truly mesmerising destination for those seeking an enlightening escape.