Hello dear readers,
today I will start reporting about my stay in Cambodia.
My first stop is Siem Reap, a city very famous for the Angkor temples located next to it.
On the first day, I wake up quite late, as I need a deserved rest after the long bus journey from Laos.
In the afternoon, I take a walk in the city and visit 2 buddhist temples not far from the city center: Wat Bo and the Preah Promaeath Pagoda.
I finish the day by a short visit of the Phsar Chas (old market).
On the next day, I start my visit of Angkor Wat and decide to enjoy the nice weather by renting a bike.
Angkor Wat and the temples and ruins around were build in the 12th century. They are a rest of the ancient Khmer empire and at its zenith it was a city with 50000 people.
On the first day, I “limit” my visit to the main temple Angkor Wat, Bayon in Angkor Thom area and a few other places like the elephant terrace.
At first I was a bit afraid to be bored, and I told myself: temples again! However I was positively surprised by the atmosphere and the architecture of the whole place.
Each temple is different and was built with a different architecture. Bayon is by far my favorite with the 200-something heads built with rocks.
Time goes so fast exploring all the corridors and corners. The freedom to move everywhere was very nice, although I think it’s not very good for the site on a long term perspective to allow tourists to touch everything and to climb on every rock.
On the second day, I am following the so called small circuit. It is starting from Angkor Thom and goes to the East to other temples (Ta Keo, Ta Prohm and Banteay Kdei).
Ta Prohm is the most famous and by far the most impressive because of the big trees growing on the ruins. The atmosphere is very special, the nature taking slowly back over the old buildings.
In the evening I go for dinner with old friends from my university. Thanks to the Facebook status of one of them, I found out by chance that they arrived in Siem Reap the day before to visit Angkor.
It’s a nice evening catching up as we haven’t seen each other since we graduated more than 10 years ago.
Although I went to bed quite late, I decide to wake up early to enjoy the sunrise on Angkor Wat and jump on my bike at 05:45am.
Arrived at Angkor Wat, I am surprised by the number of tourists that are already here, but I find a nice spot quite easily.
Around 06:30am, people start to get excited, and finally the light starts to get stronger and we see the sun coming up above the towers.
What an incredible view! The lights and shadows of Angkor Wat on the lake at the front are simply breathtaking.
The sunrise goes actually very fast. After 5 mins, the sun is completely out and a few minutes later, all the tourists are already gone inside Angkor Wat or to the next temple.
The only people left next to me are an old american couple with their guide. The wife starts crying and thanks her husband for this beautiful surprise. This was a gift for a big wedding anniversary (twenty something, I don’t remember exactly). Cute!
After that, I take my bike to go on the big circuit (Preah Khan, Neak Pean Temple, Ta Som, East Mebon and Pre Rup, about 30 kms in total). The temples are all a bit further away from Angkor Thom.
They are a bit smaller but all of them have a particularity.
Preah Khan is known as a nice mix between Buddhism and Hiduism.
Neak Pean temple is located on an island reachable only by walking on a wooden bridge going over a sunken forest.
On the way from Preah Khan to Neak Pean, I have to stop at the border of a lake for a pipi break. Suddenly I hear a motor bike stopping behind me. A policeman walks toward me and asks me what I’m doing.
I just have time to finish my business and reach to my camera in my pocket. I turn around and tell him that I am taking pictures. He looks at my camera a bit disappointed and walks back to his motorbike and disappear 🙂
East Mebon and Pre Rup temples are the last one to visit are impressive with the red brick towers.
After this long visit, I feel a bit tired and go for a beer and a BBQ diner in the evening with my friends.
On the next day, I spend some time working on my trip to New Zealand and after a short but relaxing night, I am taking the boat to Battambang via the Tonlé Sap lake.
The organisation was very south east asian 🙂 The boat was supposed to leave at 07:00. I was supposed to be picked up at 06:45, the driver showed up only around 07:30 then we waited at the meeting point till around 09:00. Finally the boat left around 10:30.
The boat ride was very interesting. We saw a lot fishermen with their net and we crossed 2 floating villages. The people in those villages found a way to cope with the water rising at the rain season by building floating houses directly on the river or the lakes.
After a 5 hour ride, we arrive at Battambang, welcome by the traditional tuk tuk army waiting for the tourists.