Siem Reap and the Temples of Angkor

Despite horror stories, we avoided the varied scams at the Cambodian border, with the exception of an ‘administration fee’ to the border police beer fund. After nine hours on the bus, we reached Siem Reap. We were told at the Garden Village Guest House that the room we booked was not available, and we were instead shown to a bamboo room. I.e a room, built on the roof of the hotel out of bamboo panels. We’ve slept in worse and will do again!

Dumping our stuff, we decided a beer was in order. The appropriately named Pub Street seemed a logical place to start. Dodging the zealous crowds of tuk tuk drivers, we took some roadside seats to watch the crowds with a cold Angkor beer. A few (or more than a few) more beers and some excellent Khmer barbecue later, we collapsed asleep.

For our first day in the famed ancient city of Angkor, we decided on bicycles. Dodging traffic, monkeys and potholes, we meandered our way out to the temples. As across the three ensuing days we visited at least ten temples, we won’t bore you with a complete itinerary, but have a look at the pictures below!

Banteay Kdei – an ancient monastery.    

Ta Prohm – the famous ‘Tomb Raider temple’, currently being reclaimed by nature stone by stone.    

Prasat Kravan – one of the earliest Angkor temples, built of brick rather than stone.  
Pre Rup – a tall temple which we climbed up for some great views  
East Mebon – full of big stone elephants!    

Preah Khan – a huge temple, fusing Buddhist and Hindu iconography  
Preah Neak Poan – a stunning water temple on an island in the lake, accessed by a causeway.  

Phnom Bakheng – a temple on the only hill around, beautiful for sunset, but with a big queue!  

Angkor Wat – the most famous of them all. A stunning and amazingly complete temple. We got up at 4.30 to see the sunrise, then wandered through the temple in the post dawn calm.     

   

Angkor Thom – The main city of the Khmer kings for centuries.

Bayon – at the centre of Angkor Thom and carved with 216 faces, designed to look a bit like the king at the time, Jayavarman VII.   

 

  
Baphuon – another Angkor Thom temple with a giant stone Buddha at the back. 

   

Terrace of the Elephants – 350m long carved terrace in Angkor Thom alongside the main square for the Royal to watch public ceremonies.  
Terrace of the Leper King – history and use debated but very beautiful complete carvings.  

We crammed a lot into our three days here, including watching some Khmer dancing and eating some great Amok curry. We think we will like it here in Cambodia, the people seem friendly (more so perhaps than the Thai’s we encountered in Bangkok) and they have a lot of history we are interested to learn about, both ancient and recent.  We can’t wait to continue exploring.

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