#header-inner { margin: auto; text-align: center; }


Sunday, May 15, 2011

Tomb Raiders: Touring Angkor Wat

Emily and I left Chiang Mai on Sunday night to begin an epic trek to Siem Reap, Cambodia.  It started with an overnight bus from CM to Bangkok, on a sofa seat, with 9 other people. It was definitely not the most pleasant bus ride, but we made it to our destination at 4:30 am and were able to quickly hop a bus to the Thailand/Cambodia border at Aranyaphratet/Poi Pet.  Once we arrived at the border we managed to avoid all of the border scams and people trying to sell us Visas for a ridiculous price and quickly found ourselves in Cambodia.  From there it was still a bit of a trek and a lot of confusion to get from the border to Siem Reap but after some negotiating we got a cab to take us the 2.5 hours to the city and we finally made it to our hostel around noon, exhausted and sweaty.

Angkor Wat and its surrounding temples are all absolutely massive, they require scaling a lot of really steep staircases, really good balance, and great effort to stay hydrated - in our 4 days there the temperature hovered around 43-44 degrees Celsius or about 110 degrees Fahrenheit.  Here are some of the highlights of our time exploring Siem Reap and Ankgor Wat:

  • Sunrise at Angkor Wat: Yes, it requires an early morning wake up - 4:30am! But at least you can beat the heat! Viewing the sunrise from Angkor Wat you can get a spectacular shot of the pink clouds reflecting off of the small pond on the grounds.  As a bonus, once the sunrise is over many people head back to their hostels so you can roam through the temples and be pretty much on your own.
  • Nice monks: For some reason the monks in Cambodia are so much more friendly than their counterparts in Thailand.  In Thailand I'm often scared to make eye contact with the monks, but in Cambodia they were all so nice and friendly, greeting us with big smiles and happy to talk with us or have their picture snapped. 
  • Siem Reap's Night Market: Emily and I did some serious shopping at the market here, it's full of things you don't really need, but when everything is $1 it's so hard to resist! We also enjoyed some pampering by way of fish pedicures, foot massages, and mani/pedis.  The night market is also surrounded by ridiculously cute streets full of restaurants, shops and bars (including a pub appropriately named "Angkor What?")
  • Trees taking over temples: It's amazing to see the way these huge trees are growing into and around the ancient ruins.  It's mind blowing to think how old these structures are and how they were built long before modern building techniques and tools were introduced.  The trees winding around and growing out of the stones make for some really beautiful sights. 
  • The faces of Bayon Temple: Bayon temple in Angkor Thom was one of my favorite spots, the massive faces that sit at the top of the towers are so fascinating to look at and someone always seems to be looking down on you as you explore.  
  • Tuk-Tuk tours: The best way to navigate the temples - because the complex is massive, the Banteay Sray temple is more than 40 Ks away from the central temples - is to hire a tuk-tuk to bring you from one temple to the next, unless you were feeling spectacularly ambitious on a bicycle.  Emily and I hired a man named Po who was so friendly and literally drove us all across the city for $20 for the day - and we started at 4:30am to head out for sunrise.  He was a true champ, at the end his tuk-tuk was practically falling apart and we had to pull over several times to make sure it wasn't going to self-combust, but luckily all was well and we made it back to the hostel in one piece. 

There is so much more I could say about all of the beautiful and amazingly ornate temples and the city and people of Siem Reap, but this blog post is already far too long and I've got a flight to Bali to catch, so I'll leave you with a link to some more pictures on Facebook if you're interested: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/fbx/?set=a.824462483427.2340862.1606236&l=32bd3b639f

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thai Baht for your thoughts....

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...