Angkor Wat, the lost city...

My memory of Cambodia is still fresh and I really want to share my experience, especially during visiting Angkor Wat in Siem Reap. Stay tune, guys :-)

After two days in Phnom Penh swallowing the dark history of the country, my fiance Carl and I headed to Siem Reap by 6 hours bus ride. Tired but worth it. Its was our first time to Siem Reap but luckily I did our itinerary a month earlier. So everything is according to the plan. We read a lot of forums and articles in web sites and also a writeup from a contributor of The Borneo Post, Johnson Tee (who also Carls' boss) who visited Angkor Wat last year.

According to my experience, it is important to do a little bit of research before heading to your next destination especially when you are on tight budget. Book your hotel/ guesthouse earlier, change your money into local currencies, budget your expenses and make sure you have emergency fund.

Ok. Enough with that, continue to our journey to Angkor Wat.

We arrived Siem Reap at night, but luckily a free tuk-tuk service from our hotel, Golden Temple Villa picked us up from bus terminal. The tuk-tuk driver was holding a white A4 paper with my name written on it.

Upon arrival Golden Temple Villa, we were welcomed by refreshing drinks, Ice Lemon Tea, a complementary drinks from the hotel and 30minutes body massage. Ohhhh... that was what I really need after six hours sitting in a bus. I really recommend this hotel. Its a two star hotel with four service that I found from tripadvisor). Lovely hotel with extremely friendly and helpful staff.

After check in, we went to Pub Street(5 minutes walk) to find food. We spent about USD15 for hard Lamb Briyani (VERY EXPENSIVE) before went to sleep because we must wake up 4.30am for a sunrise tour at Angkor Wat on the next day. I have booked our tuk-tuk driver.

Lets me explain briefly about Angkor Wat: Angkor Wat is the most famous and popular temple in the massive Angkor Archaeological Park, over 400 square kilometers of jungle, rice fields, temples, and even the largest pre-industrial age city in the world.

I'm not sure how these "lost cities" we've been visiting could ever really be lost, considering their magnitude, importance, and beauty, but Angkor Wat is yet another lost city.

It was build in the 12th century AD, making it relatively new by the standards we've set on this trip. Originally it was a Hindu temple, as that was the state religion at the time, but once a new, Buddhist king came into power everything, including Angkor Wat and all the people of the kingdom, converted to Buddhism.

From the late 16th century, all of the Angkor temples were essentially abandoned and left to the jungle. Angkor Wat is surrounded by a huge moat, which held back the encroaching jungle and thus left it so well preserved. It was "re-discovered" by a French explorer in the mid 1800's.

 Entrance of Angkor Wat

For $17 a day we hired a tuk-tuk driver from Sok Cambodian Children's Sanctuary and Orphanage that I visited for the stationery donation.

I am sure you can find many cheaper tuk-tuks outside your hotel but I decided to take Sok's recommendation because all the money they made from the business are for buying foods for the children at the orphanage.

If you use tuk-tuk service, the tuk-tuk driver take you out to the temples, wait around while you explore, drive from site to site and eventually back again.

I don't know how they make any money, though I think the average Cambodian's salary is in the neighborhood of $30-60 per month, so a dollar or two profit per day would be pretty good for them.

We woke up about 4.30am and proceed to Angkor Wat about 5am for the sunrise. We bought one-day pass worth USD20 at the entrance. They took our picture and printed it in the ticket. Oh, gosh. Ugly pix!
One-day pass to Angkor Wat, USD20

 Sunrise was not great enough but it was an amazing moment for us. After exploring Angkor Wat, our driver took us to that pre-industrial age city - Angkor Thom.

All these people gathered here as early as 5am for watching the sunrise comes up through this wonderful historical monument.

Sunrise at Angkor Wat
It's mostly covered in jungle now, but back in its heyday more than a million people lived here. The first stop was the temple of Bayon, which is notable because of it's 54 towers that each have four giant stone faces carved in them. A favorite among tourists and we were no different - those things are cool!
Bayon temple of Angkor Thom

After Bayon temple, we walked around the Elephant Terrace, a spectacular meeting place in the 12th century where entertainments and dancing were held.

Elephant terrace

From there, we went to Ta Prohm famous for trees growing inbetween the temple and also because Tomb Raider was filmed there starring Angelina Jolie. To be honest, I can't recall any of Angie scenes at Ta Prohm, but it was very interesting because it was my first time seeing huge part of tree climb over the wall.

 Huge trees at Ta Prohm

According to history, Ta Prohm temple was constructed in 1186 AD at the end of 12th century, by king Jayavarman VII. He built this temple to dedicate to his mother (Jayashitamani), also to serve as a Buddhist temple. Ta Prohm ( Which mean Old Brahma) was just a new name, according to an inscription, the original name was Raja Vihara meaning "The Royal Monastery". Ta Prohm temple also is the one of the massive temple complexes in the Angkor area.

Any one has arrived in Ta Prohm will find out by themselves with a feeling of mysterious, amazed and romantic. Because Ta Prohm comprises the special characteristic of a nature take over the ancient temple by the giant trees, and have no any idea to restore too much, despite Indian government has a restoration and preservation project on the site.

So with all the construction works around the temple, I am hoping for a better  supervision. I am not happy looking at visitors who smoke inside the temple area. Ta Prohm is located in a jungle where dried leaves are everywhere. That makes them very easy to catch fire. NO SMOKING inside the temple, please...

No words can describe how I feel after visiting Angkor Wat. It is one of the world's grandest temple sites. You must be here to feel how I felt. Amazing!

Next stop: Sok Cambodian Children's Sanctuary and Orphanag. I have been carrying 20kgs of stationery from Kota Kinabalu-Phnom Penh-Siem Reap for the orphanage.

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dekdaa said...

Tak suka juga tgk org smooking kat tempat2 yg dilarang smoke.
Mcm tak faham bahasa.. ikut nafsu jah!

Hurmmm rindu sgt lah kat kemboja ni.
Ingatkan nak kirimkan sedikit USD kat 2driver tuk tuk saya di Siem Reap tu tp takut menyusahkan LM sbb ada program lain kan.

Tak apa lah, kirim stationery aje lah hehe.

Yong Radzia said...

bila la aku dapat p ni..hihihi

LM the Traveler said...

dekdaa: kirim stationery pun dah cukup bagus...

YR: kalau ada duit lebih kamu pigi la sana time ke vietnam on june.

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