Siem Reap, Angkor Wat, and History
Trip Start Jul 01, 2013
98Trip End Jul 01, 2014
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What I did
The next day we decided to lay low for a while and plan some of the upcoming country changes and accommodations. Being a bit outside the city (about 3km's) we opted for the free Tuk-tuk shuttle. To our surprise it was Kim again picking us up. He offered to drive us around and show us some of the sites. The town of Siem reap is actually quite nice, the people super friendly and inviting. We crusied the old market and pub street, before stopping for some lunch on the busy pub street. Where i had one of the best beers of the trip, a Chimey, not cambodian, but what can you do, sometimes you need to venture out, The food was quite good as well. After we met up with Kim Shun again we talked about the plans for viewing the temples tomorrow and agreed that Kim should be our guide as he was quite knowledgeable and a good driver.
Kim Shun also suggested a cultural show with dinner. The show was actually quite interesting with lots of dancing, singing and stories from the Cambodian People. The Buffet was also crazy as there was every kind of food you could imagine. Definitely worth the trip in to town for sure.
The next morning we opted for the Sunrise tour of Ankor Wat, one of the biggest temples in the whole Siem Reap area. (I will try to be as accurate as possible with all the temple names and descriptions, but there were about a dozen, so i will try). We were picked up at the ungodly hour of 4:45 am, made our way through the darkness to the park gates and on to the temple. There were a surprising amount of people there, but we got a spot at the edge of a lotus flower filled pond over looking the temple, using my new found photography scrum skills from China. The sun rose slowly and beautifully over the temple. The early morning visit was capped off by two little boys swimming in the pond and pulling flowers out for tourists on the shore. Very cute, but i am sure some tourists were upset as the ripples from there swimming ruined the glass like finish of the lake and reflection of the temple and rising sun. luckily much like a picture sniper, i was already in, shots taken and out.
After the sunrise, the less adventurous tourists head back to town from breakfast. We continued on to explore the temple structure and bas reliefs (wall carvings). This was nice as the place was almost deserted by the couple hundred sunset watchers. We then stopped at tent number 5 "Ana" for a surprisingly good and filling pancake breakfast. We then made our way back to the entrance to meet up with Kim who will be dropping us off at various sites today. I guess this is the most common practice as there are a lot of Tuk-tuks mixed with a few tour buses. The rest of the morning we stopped at numerous Wats and temples, the park complex is massive and filled with stunning, structures from the 6th - 13th centuries. Many are being restored, have been restored or are stable enough to leave for the time being. The most interesting part of the restoration, is that each temple is "sponsored" by a different country that works with the Cambodian government to restore the temple. It was surprising to see the different countries involved in such great work to restore these beautiful pieces of history.
The first day we stopped at, Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom, Bayon, Ta Phrom, Ta Kao. The second day we went on another tour of the park, this time further out into the countryside to some of the more distant temples from Siem reap including Bankin Sier, Pre Rup, East Mebon, Ta Som, Preah Khan and Neak Pean. We also stopped at a land mine museum started by an old Khmur Rouge soldier, that turned humanitarian after seeing all the damage the millions of land mines cause each year. Cambodia is one of the most heavily mined countries in the world to this day, even with the 100,000 plus mines that have been recovered by Aki Ra.
The temples of Angkor Wat are one of a kind and the main reason we came back to Cambodia, after flying right over it. The temples did not disappoint, the mix of architecture, construction, jungle and history is worth a multiple day visit. Truly stunning.
Our last day in Siem Reap on the way back from the temple long tour, we stopped for Cambodian BBQ, which is very reminiscent of Fondue. You sit around a clay furnace pot with a small charcoal fire in the bottom. They then bring a round stainless steel plate that looks a lot like an angel food cake pan. They fill it with soup broth, vegetables and noodles. Then give you the meat to fry on the top part of the pan. We had 7 different proteins. Chicken, beef, pork, squid, Barracuda, Alligator, Shark. It was concerning at first as many of the meats, we had never had or cooked for that matter, so it was a bit unnerving to be cooking them ourselves without knowing how long to cook them properly. But, everything turned out great and it was a very good meal.
Now we are heading to Battambang via river boat, Talk to you then.