Angkor What?

Trip Start Oct 05, 2010
Trip End Nov 24, 2010

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Flag of Cambodia  ,
Friday, October 15, 2010

Siem Reap really isn’t very interesting. But the fact that it’s right next to the amazing temples of Angkor means that it’s a must-see, packed with hotels and people resting before their next visit to the temples scattered throughout the area. And this is exactly what we did.

We also took the standard route for transportation and rented a tuk-tuk for 2 days, for $15 a person. This meant that we could spend all our time and energy walking around the temples and seeing as much as possible, which would’ve been less if we had rented bikes or something similar. So we had 2 days to see it all (or close to it).

Awesome, in the true sense of the word

As a whole, let’s just say that Angkor is amazing. Being that there are at least 20 different temples throughout the entire area of Angkor, I was a little worried that after seeing a few of them, they would all start to look the same and I would tire of them very easily. But this wasn’t the case at all, as each of them had something unique and interesting to offer. Whether it was the sheer size of Angkor Wat, the trees overtaking Ta Prohm, the great, sharp towers of Bayon, the views from the tops of many temples, the secluded and quiet atmosphere of some, or those hidden in deep in the jungle, they all had something new to show us.

Small loops and big loops

The first day we took the small loop, which consisted of the large majority of the temples, including Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom and Bayon, Ta Prohm, and about a dozen others. We looked at so many temples in these two days that I can’t even remember all of them, but again, they were all amazing. That was the really incredible part of the entire Angkor site, was just how many temples there were, and how ridiculously long it would have taken for the Khmer to create all of this, some 900 years ago.

The main attraction – Angkor Wat

To be honest, I was a little disappointed with Angkor Wat, which I had really been looking forward to. I guess I was expecting something just enormous in size, but it slowly steps up to its final height of 600 and some feet, so it isn’t as obvious how high it really is. It didn’t have the same impact for me as other buildings  that I’ve seen, such as the Duomo in Florence, for example.

But it was still pretty incredible, as it is a very beautiful building, and the entire complex is huge. Especially the moat, which was really more like a large river, and would’ve put any other medieval moat to shame. Really, the thing that I was most impressed with Angkor Wat was how long it would’ve taken to build it. The entire complex was about one square mile, all surrounded by a 30-foot wall. Then there were paths, walkways, statues, and buildings leading up to the temple. And then there was the temple itself – three levels of walls and stairs, each with columns and walkways, and towers guarding its corners.

And EVERYTHING had carvings on it. Almost every pillar, column, wall, and overhang had intricate carvings of patterns, figures, animals, and gods. Each of them would’ve taken forever to create as individual pieces, but they were literally just one out of a million.

Other highlights

Ta Prohm was also an interesting temple, as this was one area where nature was starting to take over. Trees were growing on and around the temple itself, and this created some really cool things to look at. Hollywood also seemed to notice this, because much of the movie Tomb Raider was filmed here in Ta Prohm.

A cool thing to note: the way the temples were set up, we we weren’t walking through roped-out, pre-set paths. You went in through the entrance, and you came out the exit, but how you got there was up to you. You were free to wander around inside the temples, finding hidden rooms and dark corners and bright little openings along the way.

And because of this freedom, this also meant seclusion. People were exploring all over, and so you did the same. And there may be no one in sight. It was quiet and it was calm at many places. There really is no way to describe walking up to a temple in the rain, with jungle completely surrounding it. It really is just one of those things that you have to experience.

“One dollah, one dollah, you buy”

At the entrance of every temple, there were locals trying to sell you anything and everything, from snacks and drinks to postcards, t-shirts, and even flutes. And a large majority of the time, it was the kids out there selling this stuff. They were good at it too: one girl said “If you don’t buy anything I cry,” and another kid played me in tic-tac-toe and said I had to buy if he won (it was a draw).  I even had one girl (who couldn’t have been more than six) beat me up the ridiculously steep stairs of one of the temples – barefoot, one-handed, and holding a large bag – and then try and sell me postcards when I got to the top.

But they were all very friendly. Thus far, I think the Cambodians have been the friendliest of anyone that we’ve met. Even when we didn’t buy anything from them, they would still be very friendly and joke and carry on conversations with us. And every time we passed people on the road, they would always smile and wave, and we would always wave back, or vice versa. I never felt unwelcome and they always seemed happy to have us there and eager to smile. All in all, I was a big fan of Cambodia.

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josh R on

how many of the temple ruins are thier? are these all in one area?

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