Siem Reap is the town servicing the temples of Angkor & one of the fastest growing towns in the world, bouncing-back after many years of strife. Siem Reap used to be the capital of Cambodia from the 9th to the 14th century & was renamed Siem Reap, which means Siam defeated, after the Khmers defeated the Siamese , very subtle.
We stayed at the hotel Steung SiemReap, a very good hotel right in the centre of the action but remarkably quiet. Our airport taxi driver tried the scam of taking us to another hotel, saying ours was noisy & we wouldn't like it.
The bars & restaurants are in the imaginatively named, Bar Street, are very good & are fantastically cheap. People are friendly but Tuk-Tuk drivers pounced on you whenever you walk down the street.
We didn’t know the best way to see the temples but we got talking to a Kiwi who said the trick was to chose a knowledgeable, English speaking Tuk-Tuk driver & hire him for whole day – he would take us to all the temples, hang around for us & bring us back again. We found out later that part of the deal was to take us to a friend’s stall for lunch where he presumably got a free lunch but that was OK as we had one of our best meals there (chicken in pineapple). So we hired Khin Sokna for $12 a day & set off on the first day of our marathon temple fest.
We did the temples of Angkor Thom (Great City) starting with Bayon then Baphuon, Terrace of the Elephants, Chau Say Thevoda, Spean Thma (old bridge with tree) & then the much photographed site of Ta Prohm which is straight out of an Indiana Jones or Lara Croft fantasy.
[click on photos for descriptions].
The temples of Angkor were actually the location for "Lara Croft: Tomb Raider" where Angelina Jolie, armed with a pair of Bazookas, tried to stop the baddies from breaking into the temple. The most dramatic location in the film is Ta Prohm, where the giant roots of the strangler fig tree grow up through the temple walls.
I wanted to get a shot of the sun setting over Angkor Wat but we were exhausted & didn’t want to hang around, so I bought a postcard instead.