Siem Reap / Angkor Complex

Siem Reap Travel Blog

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Aerial View of Angkor Wat

We caught the 8:00 Bangkokair flight from Bangkok to Siem Reap, Cambodia. We planned spending the next 3 days in Siem Reap and visiting the Angkor Complex. Based on the vacation days we had left we decided not to visit any other location in this mysterious and historical country.

The Kingdom of Cambodia has a population of almost 15 million people, with Phnom Penh being the capital city. Cambodia is the successor state of the once powerful Hindu and Buddhist Khmer Empire, which ruled most of the Indochinese Peninsula between the eleventh and fourteenth centuries.

Angkor Wat
A citizen of Cambodia is usually identified as "Cambodian" or "Khmer", which strictly refers to ethnic Khmers. Most Cambodians are Theravada Buddhists of Khmer extraction, but the country also has a substantial number of predominantly Muslim Cham, as well as ethnic Chinese, Vietnamese and small animist hill tribes. The country shares a border with Thailand to its west and northwest, with Laos to its northeast, and with Vietnam to its east and southeast. In the south it faces the Gulf of Thailand. The geography of Cambodia is dominated by the Mekong river and the Tonlé Sap (the fresh water lake), an important source of fish. The low geography of Cambodia's fertile areas means much of the country sits nearly below sea level, and consequently the Tonle Sap River reverses its water flow in the wet season, carrying water from the Mekong back into the Tonle Sap Lake and surrounding flood plain.
Children all over Rute

The first advanced civilizations in present day Cambodia appeared in the 1st millennium AD. During the 3rd, 4th, and 5th centuries, the Indianised states of Funan and Chenla coalesced in what is now present-day Cambodia and southwestern Vietnam. These states, which are assumed by most scholars to have been Khmer, had close relations with China and India. Their collapse was followed by the rise of the Khmer Empire, a civilization which flourished in the area from the 9th century to the 13th century.

Though declining after this period, the Khmer Empire remained powerful in the region until the 15th century. The empire's center of power was Angkor, where a series of capitals were constructed during the empire's zenith. Angkor Wat, the most famous and best preserved religious temple at the site, is a symbolic reminder of Cambodia's past as a major regional power.

The Children

After a long series of wars with neighboring kingdoms, Angkor was sacked by the Thai and abandoned in 1432. The court moved the capital to Lovek where the kingdom sought to regain its glory through maritime trade. The attempt was short-lived, however, as continued wars with the Thai and Vietnamese resulted in the loss of more territory and the conquering of Lovek in 1594. During the next three centuries, The Khmer kingdom alternated as a vassal state of the Thai and Vietnamese kings, with short-lived periods of relative independence between.

In 1863 King Norodom, who had been installed by Thailand, sought the protection of France. In 1867, the Thai king signed a treaty with France, renouncing Suzerainty over Cambodia in exchange for the control of Battambang and Siem Reap provinces which officially became part of Thailand.

I had to pay this kid 1 USD for this photo!
The provinces were ceded back to Cambodia by a border treaty between France and Thailand in 1906.

Cambodia continued as a protectorate of France from 1863 to 1953, administered as part of the French colony of Indochina. After war-time occupation by the Japanese empire from 1941 to 1945, Cambodia gained independence from France on November 9, 1953. It became a constitutional monarchy under King Norodom Sihanouk.

In 1955, Sihanouk abdicated in favor of his father in order to be elected Prime Minister. Upon his father's death in 1960, Sihanouk again became head of state, taking the title of Prince.

Children trying to sell travel books and postcards
As the Vietnam War progressed, Sihanouk adopted an official policy of neutrality until ousted in 1970 by a military coup led by Prime Minister General Lon Nol and Prince Sisowath Sirik Matak, while on a trip abroad. From Beijing, Sihanouk realigned himself with the communist Khmer Rouge rebels who had been slowly gaining territory in the remote mountain regions and urged his followers to help in overthrowing the pro-United States government of Lon Nol, hastening the onset of civil war.

Operation Menu, a series of secret B-52 bombing raids by the United States on suspected Viet Cong bases and supply routes inside Cambodia, was acknowledged after Lon Nol assumed power; U.S. forces briefly invaded Cambodia in a further effort to disrupt the Viet Cong. The bombing continued and, as the Cambodian communists began gaining ground, eventually included strikes on suspected Khmer Rouge sites until halted in 1973. Estimates of the number of Cambodians killed during the bombing campaigns vary widely. The Khmer Rouge reached Phnom Penh and took power in 1975, changing the official name of the country to Democratic Kampuchea, led by Pol Pot.

Angkor Wat group photo

Pol Pot, became the Communist ruler of Cambodia (which he renamed Democratic Kampuchea) from 1975 to 1979. Estimates vary as to how many people were killed by the Khmer Rouge regime. Depending on whether or not one includes deaths from starvation and subsequent deaths in refugee camps, estimates range anywhere from 1.7 million to 3 million Cambodians. Many were in some way deemed to be "enemies of the state", whether they were linked to the previous regime, civil servants, people of education or of religion, critics of the Khmer Rouge or Marxism, or simply offered resistance to the brutal treatment of the cadres. Hundreds of thousands more fled across the border into neighboring Thailand.

In November 1978, Vietnam invaded Cambodia to stop Khmer Rouge incursions across the border and the genocide of Vietnamese in Cambodia.

Angkor Wat
Violent occupation and warfare between the Vietnamese and Khmer Rouge holdouts continued throughout the 1980s. Peace efforts began in Paris in 1989, culminating two years later in October 1991 in a comprehensive peace settlement. The United Nations was given a mandate to enforce a ceasefire, and deal with refugees and disarmament.

After the brutality of the 1970s and the 1980s, and the destruction of the cultural, economic, social and political life of Cambodia, it is only in recent years that reconstruction efforts have begun and some political stability has finally returned to Cambodia. The democracy established following the conflict was shaken in 1997 during a coup d'état, but has otherwise remained in place. Cambodia has been aided by a number of more developed nations like Japan, France, Australia and the United States, primarily economically. Money raised in schools and community groups in these countries has gone towards the rebuilding of infrastructure and housing.

Rute, João and Leonor at Angkor Wat

Our flight to Siem Reap took around 1 hour and when we arrived we had a private mini-van with chauffer provided by the Hotel during our 3 day stay waiting for us. This revealed to be a great decision because we were constantly in need of transportation and we only paid an additional 45 USD per day for the service. We left the airport and headed for Siem Reap, checked-in a cozy and friendly little Hotel called Hanumanalaya (http://www.hanumanalaya.com) left our luggage and went off to the Angkor Complex (about 7 Km distance). Elsa and Pedro made 1st night reservations at a “Hotel” called The One Hotel Angkor (http://www.theonehotelangkor.com) . It has this name because it’s a Hotel with only 1 Bedroom! Can you believe it?! It only has one room, but the guests are treated like royalty. After they checked-in they met up with us and we headed for the complex. Before we entered we had to buy the 3 day pass which cost each of us 40 USD. As soon as we entered the complex we were confronted by an enormous mote filled with water, chest high and understood we were close to Ankor Wat, the most publicized temple of Cambodia.

We arrived and went to try out some good and cheap Cambodian food at a restaurant just in front of Angkor Wat.

Beautiful Khmer Girls
As soon as we left our private mini-van we were bombarded by small children selling postcards and copies of the most expensive Travel Guides. I was frustrated by the fact that I had just wasted around 40 USD for 2 Guide Books I ordered on Amazon.com that I could have bought for 10 USD here. Naturally, they where copies, but they were almost perfect. The kids were constantly trying to sell something and had a response ready for every “no” or “not interested” that came out of our mouths. There was a girl that even replied in perfect English after I had said “no, thank you”… “Thank you doesn’t pay the bills!” Everywhere we went children were there ready to sell something or just ask us for money. The girls were fascinated by Rute’s curly blond hair and were always looking at her. It was sometimes very annoying, but you couldn’t help sympathizing with theses kids… I mean what would we be doing if we were born in Cambodia? They were very poor, but incredibly cute. They are probably the cutest kids in Asia and are always smiling.

After lunch we started our official visit of the Angkor Complex. The Angkor Complex was the site of a series of capital cities of the Kmer empire for much of the period from the 9th century to the 15th century A.

Angkor Wat
D. Their ruins are located amid forests and farmland to the north of the Great Lake (Tonle Sap), near modern day Siem Reap, Cambodia, and are a Unesco World Heritage Site. The temples of the Angkor area number over one thousand, ranging in scale from nondescript piles of brick rubble scattered through rice fields to the magnificent Angkor Wat, said to be the world's largest single religious monument. Many of the temples at Angkor have been restored, and together they comprise the premier collection of examples of Khmer architecture.

Over a period of 300 years, between 900 and 1200 AD, the Khmer empire produced some of the world's most magnificent architectural masterpieces on the northern shore of the Tonle Sap, near the present town of Siem Reap.

Angkor Wat
Most are concentrated in an area approximately 15 miles east to west and 5 miles north to south, although the Angkor Archaeological Park which administers the area includes sites as far away as Kbal Spean, about 60 km to the north. Some 72 major temples or other buildings dot the area.

The principal temple, Angkor Wat, was built between 1113 and 1150 by Suryavarman II. With walls nearly one-half mile long on each side, Angkor Wat grandly portrays the Hindu cosmology, with the central towers representing Mount Meru, home of the gods; the outer walls, the mountains enclosing the world; and the moat, the oceans beyond.

A Buddhist monk leaving the library
The later capital of Angkor Thom, built after the Cham sack of 1177, has at its centre the Bayon. Construction of Angkor Thom coincided with a change from Hinduism to Mahayana Buddhism. Temples were altered to display images of the Buddha, and Angkor Wat briefly became a Buddhist shrine. A subsequent Hindu revival included a large-scale campaign of desecration of Buddhist images, before Theravada Buddhism became established from the 14th century.
Angkor Wat
During the 15th century, nearly all of Angkor was abandoned, except Angkor Wat, which remained a shrine for Buddhist pilgrims. While it is widely believed that this occurred after Siamese attacks, some recent research by Australian archaeologists indicates that the main cause was a shortage of water caused by during the transition from the medieval warm period to the little ice age.

The great city and temples remained largely cloaked by the forest until the late 19th century when French archaeologists began a long restoration process. From 1907 to 1970 restoration of Angkor was under the direction of the École française d'Extrême-Orient, which worked to clear away the forest, repair foundations, and install drains to protect the buildings from water damage.

Miguel on top of Mount Meru
After the end of the civil war, work began again, and since  1993 it has been jointly coordinated by the French, Japanese and UNESCO through the International Coordinating Committee on the Safeguarding and Development of the Historic Site of Angkor (ICC), while Cambodian work is carried out by the Authority for the Protection and Management of Angkor and the Region of Siem Reap (APSARA), created in 1995. Some temples have been carefully taken apart stone by stone and reassembled on concrete foundations. Since the end of the civil war, international tourism to Angkor has increased, posing additional conservation problems but also financial assistance to the restoration projects. Visitor numbers reached 900,000 in 2006. 2001 saw the release of the movie Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, filmed on location at various Angkor sites.
A Buddhist ritual

We began our visit to Angkor Wat (or Angkor Vat). The largest and best-preserved temple at the site, it is the only one to have remained a significant religious centre, first Hindu, dedicated to Vishnu, then Buddhist since its foundation. The temple is the epitome of the high classical style of Khmer architecture. It has become a symbol of Cambodia, appearing on its national flag, and it is the country's prime attraction for visitors. Angkor Wat combines two basic plans of Khmer temple architecture: the temple mountain and the later galleried temples.

A Buddhist ritual
It is designed to represent Mount Meru, home of the gods in Hindu mythology Hindu mythology Hindu mythology: within a moat and an outer wall 3.6 km long are three rectangular galleries, each raised above the next. At the centre of the temple stands a quincunx of towers. Unlike most Angkorian temples, Angkor Wat is oriented to the west; scholars are divided as to the significance of this. As well as for the grandeur and harmony of the architecture, the temple is admired for its extensive bas-reliefs and for the numerous devatas adorning its walls.
Resting in the shade

Angkor Wat is the southernmost temple of Angkor's main group of sites. The initial design and construction of the temple took place in the first half of the 12th century, during the reign of Suryavarman II (ruled 1113 to 1150 A.C.). Dedicated to Vishnu, it was built as the king's state temple and capital city. As neither the foundation stela nor any contemporary inscriptions referring to the temple have been found, its original name is unknown, but it may have been known as Vrah Vishnulok after the presiding deity. It is located 5.5 km north of the modern town of Siem Reap, and a short distance south and slightly east of the previous capital, which was centred on the Baphuon.

Rute with the Angkor Wat carvings
Work seems to have come to an end on the king's death, with some of the bas-reliefs unfinished. In 1177 Angkor was sacked by the Chams, the traditional enemies of the Khmer. Thereafter the empire was restored by a new king, Jayavarman VII, who established a new capital and state temple (Angkor Thom and the Bayon) which lie a few km to the north.

In the 14th or 15th century the temple was converted to Theravada Buddhist use, which continues to the present day. Angkor Wat is unusual among the Angkor temples in that although it was somewhat neglected after the 16th century it was never completely abandoned. Its moat also provided some protection from encroachment by the jungle. Around this time the temple was known as Preah Pisnulok, after the posthumous title of Suryavarman. The modern name, in use by the 16th century, means "City Temple": Angkor is a vernacular form of the word nokor which comes from the Sanskrit word nagara (capital), while wat is the Khmer word for temple.

Budhha

One of the first Western visitors to the temple was Antonio da Magdalena, a Portuguese Capuchin friar who visited in 1586 and said that it "is of such extraordinary construction that it is not possible to describe it with a pen, particularly since it is like no other building in the world. It has towers and decoration and all the refinements which the human genius can conceive of". His testimony was transmitted to the Portuguese historian Diogo do Couto before being killed in a shipwreck off Natal. However, the temple was popularized in the West only in the mid-19th century on the publication of Henri Mouhot's travel notes. The French explorer wrote of it:

“One of these temples is a rival to that of Soloman, and erected by some ancient Michelangelo might take an honorable place beside our most beautiful buildings.

Our first official Cambodian meal
It is grander than anything left to us by Greece or Rome, and presents a sad contrast to the state of barbarism in which the nation is now plunged.” Mouhot, like other early Western visitors, was unable to believe that the Khmers could have built the temple, and mistakenly dated it to around the same era as Rome. The true history of Angkor Wat was pieced together only from stylistic and epigraphic evidence accumulated during the subsequent clearing and restoration work carried out across the whole Angkor site. Angkor Wat required considerable restoration in the 20th century, mainly the removal of accumulated earth and vegetation. Work was interrupted by the civil war and Khmer Rouge control of the country during the 1970s and 1980s, but relatively little damage was done during this period other than the theft and destruction of mostly post-Angkorian statues.

The temple has become a symbol of Cambodia, and is a source of great pride for the country's people. In January 2003 riots erupted in Phnom Penh when a false rumor circulated that a Thai soap opera actress had claimed that Angkor Wat belonged to Thailand.

Buddhist practice at Angkor Wat

Devatas are characteristic of the Angkor Wat style. Angkor Wat is the prime example of the classical style of  Khmer architecture "the Angkor Wat style" to which it has given its name. By the 12th century Khmer architects had become more skilled and confident than before in the use of sandstone (rather than brick or laterite) as the main building material. The Angkor Wat style was followed by that of the  Bayon period, in which quality was often sacrificed to quantity. Other temples in the style are Banteay Samré Thommanon,  Chao Say Tevoda nd the early temples of Preah Pithu at Angkor; outside Angkor, Beng Mealea and parts of Phanom Rung and  Phimi.

Angkor Wat group photo
Angkor Wat has drawn praise above all for the harmony of its design, which has been compared to the architecture of ancient Greece or Rome. According to Maurice Glaize, a mid-20th-century conservator of Angkor, the temple "attains a classic perfection by the restrained monumentality of its finely balanced elements and the precise arrangement of its proportions. It is a work of power, unity and style."

Angkor Wat is a unique combination of the temple mountain, the standard design for the empire's state temples, the later plan of concentric galleries, and the later Chola of Tamil Nadu India. The temple is a representation of Mount Meru, the home of the gods: the central quincunx of towers symbolises the five peaks of the mountain, and the walls and moat the surrounding mountain ranges and ocean. Access to the upper areas of the temple was progressively more exclusive, with the laity being admitted only to the lowest level.

Bas-reliefs

Unlike most Khmer temples, Angkor Wat is oriented to the west rather than the east. This has led many to conclude that Suryavarman intended it to serve as his funerary temple. Further evidence for this view is provided by the  bas-reliefs, which proceed in a counter-clockwise direction" prasavya in Hindu terminology" as this is the reverse of the normal order. Rituals take place in reverse order during Brahminic funeral services. The archaeologist Charles Higham also describes a container which may have been a funerary jar which was recovered from the central tower. Freeman and Jacques, however, note that several other temples of Angkor depart from the typical eastern orientation, and suggest that Angkor Wat's alignment was due to its dedication to Vishnu, who was associated with the west.

A further interpretation of Angkor Wat has been proposed by Eleanor Mannikka. Drawing on the temple's alignment and dimensions, and on the content and arrangement of the bas-reliefs, she argues that these indicate a claimed new era of peace under king Suryavarman II: "as the measurements of solar and lunar time cycles were built into the sacred space of Angkor Wat, this divine mandate to rule was anchored to consecrated chambers and corridors meant to perpetuate the king's power and to honor and placate the deities manifest in the heavens above.

Bas-reliefs
"

The outer wall, 1025 by 802 m and 4.5 m high, is surrounded by a 30 m apron of open ground and a moat 190 m wide. Access to the temple is by an earth bank to the east and a sandstone causeway to the west; the latter, the main entrance, is a later addition, possibly replacing a wooden bridge. There are gopurasat each of the  cardinal points; the western is much the largest and has three ruined towers. Glaize notes that this gopura both hides and echoes the form of the temple proper. Under the southern tower is a statue of Vishnu, known as Ta Reach, which may originally have occupied the temple's central shrine. Galleries run between the towers and as far as two further entrances on either side of the gopura often referred to as "elephant gates", as they are large enough to admit those animals. These galleries have square pillars on the outer (west) side and a closed wall on the inner (east) side. The ceiling between the pillars is decorated with lotus rosettes; the west face of the wall with dancing figures; and the east face of the wall with blustered windows, dancing male figures on prancing animals, and devatas, including (south of the entrance) the only one in the temple to be showing her teeth.

Angkor Wat

The outer wall encloses a space of 820,000 square meters (203 acres), which besides the temple proper was originally occupied by the city and, to the north of the temple, the royal palace. Like all secular buildings of Angkor, these were built of perishable materials rather than of stone, so nothing remains of them except the outlines of some of the streets. Most of the area is now covered by forest. A 350 m causeway connects the western gopura to the temple proper, with naga balustrades and six sets of steps leading down to the city on either side. Each side also features a library with entrances at each cardinal point, in front of the third set of stairs from the entrance, and a pond between the library and the temple itself. The ponds are later additions to the design, as is the cruciform terrace guarded by lions connecting the causeway to the central structure. A view along the main axis of a model of Angkor Wat: in the foreground is the cruciform terrace which lies in front of the central structure.

Angkor Wat

The temple proper stands on a terrace raised above the level of the city. It consists essentially of three rectangular galleries rising to a central tower; with each level higher than the last. Mannikka interprets these galleries as being dedicated to the king, Brahma and the moon, and Vishnu, respectively. Each gallery has a gopura at each of the cardinal points, and the two inner galleries each have towers at their corners, forming a quincunx  with the central tower. Because of the temple's westward orientation, the features are all set back towards the east, leaving more space to be filled in each enclosure and gallery on the west side; for the same reason the west-facing steps are shallower than those on the other sides.

Angkor Wat

The outer gallery measures 187 by 215 m, with pavilions rather than towers at the corners. The gallery is open to the outside of the temple, with columned half-galleries extending and buttressing the structure. The inner walls bear a series of bas-reliefs, depicting large-scale scenes mainly from the Hindu epics the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. Higham has called these, "the greatest known linear arrangement of stone carving". From the north-west corner anti-clockwise, the western gallery shows the Battle of Lanka (from the Ramayana, in which Rama defeats Ravana) and the Battle of Kurukshetra (from the Mahabharata, showing the mutual annihilation of the Kaurava and Pandava clans).

Angkor Wat
On the southern gallery follow the only historical scene, a procession of Suryavarman II, then the 32 hells and 37 heavens of Hindu mythology. Glaize writes of; those unfortunate souls who are to be thrown down to hell to suffer a refined cruelty which, at times, seems to be a little disproportionate to the severity of the crimes committed. So it is that people who have damaged others' property have their bones broken, that the glutton is cleaved in two, that rice thieves are afflicted with enormous bellies of hot iron, that those who picked the flowers in the garden of Shiva have their heads pierced with nails, and thieves are exposed to cold discomfort.

On the eastern gallery is one of the most celebrated scenes, the Churning of the Sea of Milk, showing 92 asuras  and 88 devas  using the serpent Vasuki to churn the sea under Vishnu's direction.

Traditional Khmer Suits
It is followed by Vishnu defeating asuras (a 16th-century addition). The northern gallery shows Krishna's victory over Bana and a battle between the Hindu gods and asuras. The north-west and south-west corner pavilions both feature much smaller-scale scenes, some unidentified but most from the Ramayana or the life of Krishna.

Connecting the outer gallery to the second enclosure on the west side is a cruciform cloister, known by the modern name of Preah Poan (the "Hall of a Thousand Buddhas"). Buddha images were left in the cloister by pilgrims over the centuries, although most have now been removed. This area has many inscriptions relating the good deeds of pilgrims, most written in Khmer but others in Burmese and Japanese.

Elephants in Phnom Bakheng
The four small courtyards marked out by the cloister may originally have been filled with water. North and south of the cloister are libraries.

Beyond, the second and inner galleries are connected to each other and to two flanking libraries by another cruciform terrace, again a later addition. From the second level upwards, devatas abound on the walls, singly or in groups of up to four. The second-level enclosure is 100 by 115 m, and may originally have been flooded to represent the ocean around Mount Meru. Three sets of steps on each side lead up to the corner towers and gopuras of the inner gallery. The very steep stairways represent the difficulty of ascending to the kingdom of the gods. This inner gallery, called the Bakan, is a 60 m square with axial galleries connecting each gopura with the central shrine, and subsidiary shrines located below the corner towers.

Phnom Bakheng
The roofings of the galleries are decorated with the motif of the body of a snake ending in the heads of lions or guardas. Carved lintels and pediments decorate the entrances to the galleries and to the shrines. The tower above the central shrine rises 43 m to a height of 65 m above the ground; unlike those of previous temple mountains, the central tower is raised above the surrounding four. The shrine itself, originally occupied by a statue of Vishnu and open on each side, was walled in when the temple was converted to Theravada Buddhism, the new walls featuring standing Buddhas. In 1934 the conservator George Trouvé excavated the pit beneath the central shrine: filled with sand and water it had already been robbed of its treasure, but he did find a sacred foundation deposit of gold leaf two metres above ground.
Sunset at Phnom Bakheng
Since the 1990s Angkor Wat has seen a resumption of conservation efforts and a massive increase in tourism. The temple is part of the Angkor World Heritage Site, established in 1992, which has provided some funding and has encouraged the Cambodian government to protect the site. The German Apsara Conservation Project (GACP) is working to protect the devatas and other bas-reliefs which decorate the temple from damage.

Close to sunset we set out to Phnom Bakheng to se the mythical sunset everyone talks about. As we arrived there were 6 to 8 elephants waiting to take customers up the hill for about 15 USD. We decided to walk, but nonetheless took some nice pictures of the fascinating mammals.

The Dead Fish Restaurant
   

Phnom Bakheng is a Hindu temple in the form of a mountain. Dedicated to Shiva, it was built at the end of the 9th century, during the reign of King Yasovarman (889-910 A.D.). Located atop a hill, it is nowadays a popular tourist spot for sunset views of the much bigger temple Angkor Wat, which lies amid the jungle about 1.5 km to the southeast. The large number of visitors makes Phnom Bakheng one of the most threatened monuments of Angkor. Built more than two centuries before Angkor Wat, Phnom Bakheng was in its day the principal temple of the Angkor region. It was the architectural centerpiece of a new capital, Yasodharapura, that Yasovarman built after moving the court from the Roluos area to the southeast.

Phnom Bakheng is a symbolic representation of Mount Meru, home of the Hindu gods, a status emphasized by the temple’s location atop a steep hill.

The Dead Fish Restaurant
It is oriented toward the east and built in a pyramid form of seven tiers. At the uppermost level, five sandstone sanctuaries are arranged in a quincunx pattern, one in the center, and one at each corner of the level’s square. Originally, 108 small towers were arrayed around the various tiers of the temple; most of them have now collapsed.

When we arrived there were already hundreds of tourists waiting for the spectacle. Fortunately we found a space in the middle of the crowd, sat down and prepared our tripods and camera. While we waited we could hear people speaking German, English, Portuguese (well Brazilian) French, Chinese and Japanese. Around 18:15 the sun began to set. However, to our dismay, it was a bit cloudy and the spectacle wasn’t that great. In about 30 minutes it was all over and we began our decent down the hill. Already night we headed back to the Hotel, took a bath, changed our clothes and headed for a restaurant called The Dead Fish. When we arrived and as we were waiting for some of our friends that were coming in another tuk-tuk we talked with the Cambodians. The recurring question everyone in Cambodia and Vietnam asked us was where we were from. Once we said Portugal, we started to talk about football and the great national players like Figo and Ronaldo.

Dinner at The Dead Fish Restaurant
When the rest of the group arrived we entered the restaurant and the waiter sat us on a table next to a crocodile pit. The smell was awful, so we asked to be transferred to a table farther away. The food was pretty good and cheap; we saw some traditional Cambodian dance and after dinner returned to the Hotel.  


lordsgym says:
wow!!! that was an amazing blog.. so full of information that i forget that im reading a blog and not a National Geographic
Posted on: Jul 15, 2007
sbun says:
I loved your photos! you captured beautiful aspects of the country. The accompanying description is great and very accurate, and helpful for future visitors. Great post!
Posted on: Jun 13, 2007
rinne says:
It sounds amazing...i've always had this random fascination for Cambodia and now i know why. Im gona have to try my hardest to place that at the top of my to-see-places.
Posted on: May 14, 2007
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Aerial View of Angkor Wat
Aerial View of Angkor Wat
Angkor Wat
Angkor Wat
Children all over Rute
Children all over Rute
The Children
The Children
I had to pay this kid 1 USD for th…
I had to pay this kid 1 USD for t…
Children trying to sell travel boo…
Children trying to sell travel bo…
Angkor Wat group photo
Angkor Wat group photo
Angkor Wat
Angkor Wat
Rute, João and Leonor at Angkor W…
Rute, João and Leonor at Angkor …
Beautiful Khmer Girls
Beautiful Khmer Girls
Angkor Wat
Angkor Wat
Angkor Wat
Angkor Wat
A Buddhist monk leaving the library
A Buddhist monk leaving the library
Angkor Wat
Angkor Wat
Miguel on top of Mount Meru
Miguel on top of Mount Meru
A Buddhist ritual
A Buddhist ritual
A Buddhist ritual
A Buddhist ritual
Resting in the shade
Resting in the shade
Rute with the Angkor Wat carvings
Rute with the Angkor Wat carvings
Budhha
Budhha
Our first official Cambodian meal
Our first official Cambodian meal
Buddhist practice at Angkor Wat
Buddhist practice at Angkor Wat
Angkor Wat group photo
Angkor Wat group photo
Bas-reliefs
Bas-reliefs
Bas-reliefs
Bas-reliefs
Angkor Wat
Angkor Wat
Angkor Wat
Angkor Wat
Angkor Wat
Angkor Wat
Angkor Wat
Angkor Wat
Traditional Khmer Suits
Traditional Khmer Suits
Elephants in Phnom Bakheng
Elephants in Phnom Bakheng
Phnom Bakheng
Phnom Bakheng
Sunset at Phnom Bakheng
Sunset at Phnom Bakheng
The Dead Fish Restaurant
The Dead Fish Restaurant
The Dead Fish Restaurant
The Dead Fish Restaurant
Dinner at The Dead Fish Restaurant
Dinner at The Dead Fish Restaurant
Dinner at The Dead Fish Restaurant
Dinner at The Dead Fish Restaurant
Angkor Wat Library
Angkor Wat Library
Angkor Wat
Angkor Wat
Dinner at The Dead Fish Restaurant
Dinner at The Dead Fish Restaurant
Cambodian food
Cambodian food
The Dead Fish Restaurant
The Dead Fish Restaurant
Crocodiles everywhere
Crocodiles everywhere
The Dead Fish Restaurant
The Dead Fish Restaurant
Dinner at The Dead Fish Restaurant
Dinner at The Dead Fish Restaurant
Dinner at The Dead Fish Restaurant
Dinner at The Dead Fish Restaurant
Tobacco at the Hotel
Tobacco at the Hotel
Bas-reliefs
Bas-reliefs
Bas-reliefs
Bas-reliefs
Bas-reliefs
Bas-reliefs
Bas-reliefs
Bas-reliefs
Bas-reliefs
Bas-reliefs
Bas-reliefs
Bas-reliefs
Bas-reliefs
Bas-reliefs
The intricate carvings at Angkor W…
The intricate carvings at Angkor …
Angkor Wat carvings
Angkor Wat carvings
Hanumanalaya Beds
Hanumanalaya Beds
Women washing
Women washing
Sunset at Phnom Bakheng
Angkor Wat
Elsa playing around at Hanumanalaya
Elsa playing around at Hanumanalaya
Angkor Wat
Angkor Wat
Waiting for the perfect sunset
Waiting for the perfect sunset
Monks everywhere!
Monks everywhere!
Siem Reap
photo by: genetravelling