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Siem Reap Travel Blog

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Angkor Wat

As Siem Reap is the gateway town for the temples of Angkor Wat I am sure it is unlike anywhere else in Cambodia.  It reminds me of Luxor, a cluster of 5-star hotels in the middle of nowhere as, like Luxor, the only reason to come here is to see Angkor Wat, and plenty of people do.

We almost miss the Mekong Express (VIP Limousine) bus due to a small mis-understanding as to the precise location of our passports but luckily the agent called ahead and the bus waited for us to arrive.  For an extra $2 over the standard bus (and to earn the VIP Limousine tag) the Mekong Express offers an impressive number of extras: running commentary in Cambodian and English, on-board toilet, a free bottle of water, breakfast cake, tagged luggage and their own terminal at Siem Reap.

Ta Prohm
  The terminal is a car park with a guard on the gate to prevent the tuk-tuk drivers getting in, which means there is a huge scrum of drivers at the gate shouting and waving signs offering rides into the centre of town.  This turns out to be good news as the fierce competition means that fares are rock-bottom and we easily find a tuk-tuk to our hotel for only 50c. 

We have plenty of time and expect this to be one of the high-points of our trip, so opt for the 3 day Ankgor Wat pass.  This is personalised with a photo and is all arranged (including taking your picture) with incredible efficiency at the computerised ticket office between the town and the temples.  The main temple area is only about 8km north of the town so for the first day we decide to hire bikes.

Bas Reliefs at Bayon
  Following the guide book advise we first go to the Bayon temple in the Angkor Thom complex, then explore the remainder of the walled city before completing the "mini tour" to Ta Prohm, Banteay Kdei and ending the day at Angkor Wat.  The bikes are fun, the road flat and the distances not great but the heat and humidity make it hard work.  By the time we make it back to the hotel I have drunk 4 litres of water and feel like I have cycled 50 miles!

The second day we take a different approach and hire a tuk-tuk for the day.  We first ask him to take us to the 3 temples in the Rolous group about 15km East of Siem Reap and then complete the "large circuit" around Angkor, finishing with sunset from the Bakheng hill (along with several hundred other tourists).

Bayon temple
  The day works well as, by chance, most of these temples are from a similar era so we can see the progression in styles.  The ride between stops is also a great way to cool down after the hot work of temple exploring but the sunset is a waste of time and even using the special sunset setting on the camera it still looks poor.

We don't hire a guide for any of the days, despite advise to the contrary, and though we may miss out on some of the finer points of the temples I feel for us this is the best way.  For me the Angkor sights work at two levels; first the overall architecture/location and second the detailed carvings and reliefs.  To learn more I buy a Angkor history book but this is really for later as there is just too much to digest in one visit.  I will read it properly when we return home and maybe one day we will come here again.   I take plenty of pictues but doubt they can really convey the unique feel of this place.

skippyed says:
I so wanna go here! love the photo's
Posted on: Apr 07, 2008
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Angkor Wat
Angkor Wat
Ta Prohm
Ta Prohm
Bas Reliefs at Bayon
Bas Reliefs at Bayon
Bayon temple
Bayon temple
Temple in Angkor Thom
Temple in Angkor Thom
Victory Gate Angkor Thom
Victory Gate Angkor Thom
Bas relief Angkor Wat
Bas relief Angkor Wat
Lolei, Rolous group
Lolei, Rolous group
Bakheng temple, Rolous
Bakheng temple, Rolous
Pre Rup
Pre Rup
Gateway to Preah Khan
Gateway to Preah Khan
Angkor Wat
Angkor Wat
Elephants guard the corners of the…
Elephants guard the corners of th…
Siem Reap
photo by: genetravelling