There's a Wat to see in Siem Reap.

Siem Reap Travel Blog

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Our guide Prom gives us the lay of the land before we enter Ta Prohm.
Of course, the reason we came to Siem Reap is to see Angkor Wat. Not just one temple, it’s an entire complex of structures (about 300 monuments) built in the 9th to 13th centuries, back when the Khmer empire was an ass-kicking super power.

We decided to use the services of a guide so that we would know what the heck we were looking at. The cost for a daylong tour was $25 for the guide, and $20 for the car and driver, plus a $20 entrance fee.

We left at 8am, and it was already searing hot out. In the car, our guide, Prom, gave us a quick primer on Cambodian history (it’s deep, complex, and recently pretty awful). Prom spoke English very well, but had an odd Cambodian/Australian accent. (He said he picked up the Aussie inflection from tourists.
Me and Steve at Ta Prohm.
)

Our first stop (also my favorite stop) was Ta Prohm. Built in 1186-1187, it was overtaken by jungle and the result is quite stunning.  Huge trees are growing on roofs, gripping walls, and have generally taken the place over. It’s magical, picturesque and looks like a movie set. Oh wait, it has been a movie set! The area where Angelina Jolie filmed a scene for Tomb Raider is roped off to visitors. You can look, but no touching.

We got back to the car and the driver had chilled towels and more water for us. Nice! From there we went to the grandaddy of the area, Angkor Wat. Oh my… it’s huge. Whereas Ta Prohm was tumbling down, Angkor Wat is remarkably well preserved. That is because it was intermittently occupied and used by Buddhist monks over the years, who kept things up somewhat.
Prom and Steve at Angkor Wat.
Bas-relief carvings, from different eras and in varying degrees of qualities, covered the walls. There were extremely steep, narrow stairs to the towers, which until 6 months ago were open to tourists. There was only one tiny handrail and terrified tourists kept getting stuck at the top, so they have built a better staircase… but it’s not open yet.

More cool towels were waiting for us, then it was finally time for lunch. We ate at a restaurant within the area…expensive, and none too clean. Plus, at $20 including tip, it was pretty expensive by SE Asia standards. It wasn’t that good, and I wished we had packed our own.

Next on the list was Angkor Thom, a whole city, really. It was surrounded by a moat and accessible through an impressive gate. There were several things to see inside.
Bayon smiling face.
First, we stood in the blazing hot sun to view the bas-relief carvings in the wall, which showed life long ago. It played out like a move, with markets, hunting, journeys, battles, and even baby delivery portrayed. It was really well preserved... you could even see the flower decorations on the coats! Next we walked through the Bayon, an ornate structure topped with 54 smiling towers. After some time admiring the smiling faces and roasting there, we strolled to Baphuon. This collapsed temple was completely disassembled by the French (maybe in the 1960s, but I don’t know for sure), who took it all apart and laid out the hundreds of thousands of pieces in the surrounding area. The plan was to shore up the foundation, and reconstruct the temple as it has originally been.
Stairs at Phnom Bakheng.
Then war broke out, the French left, and all documents (i.e. those telling which piece goes where) were destroyed! But the French are back at it, in the process of putting it all together without the original plans. God bless ‘em. (Projected opening is in 2009).

The Elephant Terrace was next. This was kind of a platform for the king, who sat there and watched entertainment on the field in front. The terrace is carved with elephant depictions, hence its name.

Our guide suggested we go back to the hotel at this point, but we had paid for a full day and it wasn’t yet 2:00! From there, I kind of had to prod him to carry on, and we ended up at Phnom Bakhang, the oldest structure in the Angkor complex, built in the 9th century.
Dinner at Traditional Khmer Food Restaurant.
It was a long climb to the temple ruins, but one could take an elephant ride for $15. (Once you got up, you had to pay another $10 to come back down!). This area afforded a nice view of the surrounding area, but didn’t have a whole lot of shade (and I forgot my water), so we didn’t stay too long.

I had really wanted to stay for sunset, but our guide let it be known that our tour was over. I was tired and hot, but I still wanted to keep going, but it seemed to not be an option. We were driven back to the hotel, where we relaxed by “our” pool and I researched ongoing travel. In the evening we went into town and had an OK dinner at Original Khmer Food Restaurant. Once the sun went down the temperature was more bearable, so we wandered around a bit, but found there really isn’t that much to do in Siem Reap.

Tomorrow we will go to the Land Mine Museum, then we are off to our next destination, which has recently changed: we are going back to Thailand, to spend a couple of days in Bangkok. Then, on to India and the Himalayas!

Jopin says:
Hey Charlene! I don't think I can, not in Nov anyway. I have my exams, which I almost forgot about. Will have to move it to next year, possibly in March. HOpe all is well with you.
Posted on: Sep 08, 2008
cmgervais says:
By all means...GO! Do it!
Posted on: Sep 06, 2008
Jopin says:
Beautiful pics! I may be going in Nov, if I lose all sense and book my flights in the next week! LOL!!
Posted on: Sep 05, 2008
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Our guide Prom gives us the lay of…
Our guide Prom gives us the lay o…
Me and Steve at Ta Prohm.
Me and Steve at Ta Prohm.
Prom and Steve at Angkor Wat.
Prom and Steve at Angkor Wat.
Bayon smiling face.
Bayon smiling face.
Stairs at Phnom Bakheng.
Stairs at Phnom Bakheng.
Dinner at Traditional Khmer Food R…
Dinner at Traditional Khmer Food …
A guesthouse outside of Ta Prohm.
A "guesthouse" outside of Ta Prohm.
I forgot the tickets in the car, s…
I forgot the tickets in the car, …
Tree growing smack dab on a roof. …
Tree growing smack dab on a roof.…
Ta Prohm doorway.
Ta Prohm doorway.
The tree growing on a roof, Ta Pro…
The tree growing on a roof, Ta Pr…
We like to live on the edge.
We like to live on the edge.
And this is the low season.
And this is the "low season."
Sunshine at Ta Prohm.
Sunshine at Ta Prohm.
Not tonight, I have a headache. Ap…
Not tonight, I have a headache. A…
Doorway and rubble at Ta Prohm.
Doorway and rubble at Ta Prohm.
Steve admires the construction at …
Steve admires the construction at…
Ta Prohm structures.
Ta Prohm structures.
Studying the lichen at Ta Prohm.
Studying the lichen at Ta Prohm.
Me at Ta Prohm.
Me at Ta Prohm.
Famous tree roots gripping a wall …
Famous tree roots gripping a wall…
Tree hugger.
Tree hugger.
My guide says they are lotus bloss…
My guide says they are lotus blos…
Do you recognize this from Tomb Ra…
Do you recognize this from Tomb R…
She looks pretty good for being ab…
She looks pretty good for being a…
Peek a boo! See the face?
Peek a boo! See the face?
Moat around Ankgor Wat. Dug by han…
Moat around Ankgor Wat. Dug by ha…
First peek at Angkor Wat, through …
First peek at Angkor Wat, through…
Angkor Wat.
Angkor Wat.
Angkor Wat.
Angkor Wat.
Angkor Wat towers against the clou…
Angkor Wat towers against the clo…
She wasnt very friendly.
She wasn't very friendly.
Me and Steve at Angkor Wat.
Me and Steve at Angkor Wat.
Hallway at Angkor Wat.
Hallway at Angkor Wat.
Bas relief carving at Angkor Wat.
Bas relief carving at Angkor Wat.
View of the main gate of Angkor Wa…
View of the main gate of Angkor W…
Empty bathing pool at Angkor Wat.
Empty bathing pool at Angkor Wat.
Angkor Wat doorway.
Angkor Wat doorway.
Angkor Wat tower.
Angkor Wat tower.
Angkor Wat apsara carvings.
Angkor Wat apsara carvings.
Steep, steep stairs at Angkor Wat.
Steep, steep stairs at Angkor Wat.
Reflecting pools at Angkor Wat. Ev…
Reflecting pools at Angkor Wat. E…
West gate and hot air balloon. Ang…
West gate and hot air balloon. An…
Lion guard outside Angkor Wat.
Lion guard outside Angkor Wat.
OK, got it. Thanks.
OK, got it. Thanks.
trying to hide from the sun.
trying to hide from the sun.
Entrance gate to Angkor Thom.
Entrance gate to Angkor Thom.
Angkor Thoms Bayon.
Angkor Thom's Bayon.
Angkor Thoms towers of Bayon.
Angkor Thom's towers of Bayon.
Studying the carvings at Angkor Th…
Studying the carvings at Angkor T…
Doorway at Angkor Thom.
Doorway at Angkor Thom.
Hmmm, I feel like someone is watch…
Hmmm, I feel like someone is watc…
Steve and a smiling carving at Bay…
Steve and a smiling carving at Ba…
Buddhist statue at Bayon in Angkor…
Buddhist statue at Bayon in Angko…
The smiling towers of Bayon at Ang…
The smiling towers of Bayon at An…
Extra pieces from the Baphuon re…
"Extra pieces" from the Baphuon r…
Baphuon, being rebuilt one stone a…
Baphuon, being rebuilt one stone …
The Elephant Terrace.
The Elephant Terrace.
The aptly named Elephant Terrace.
The aptly named Elephant Terrace.
Elephant carvings at the Elephant …
Elephant carvings at the Elephant…
View of Angkor Wat from Phnom Bakh…
View of Angkor Wat from Phnom Bak…
Stairs at Phnom Bakheng.
Stairs at Phnom Bakheng.
Really steep steps at Phnom Bakhen…
Really steep steps at Phnom Bakhe…
Phnom Bakheng.
Phnom Bakheng.
Phnom Bakheng, on the elephant pat…
Phnom Bakheng, on the elephant pa…
Phnom Bakheng, on the elephant pat…
Phnom Bakheng, on the elephant pa…
Phnom Bakheng. Up is $15, down is …
Phnom Bakheng. Up is $15, down is…
Rain shower and sunshine right out…
Rain shower and sunshine right ou…
Steve, chillin on our porch.
Steve, chillin on our porch.
Steve, chillin in the pool.
Steve, chillin in the pool.
Our dinner spot.
Our dinner spot.
Siem Reap
photo by: genetravelling