Siem Reap Experience

Temples and Tuk Tuk
It is the Temples of Angkor that captivate us to this mysterious land. Angkor Wat is the largest religious monument in the world (Wikipedia) and also one of the most important archaeological sites in South-East Asia. Stretching over some 400 km2, including forested area, Angkor Archaeological Park contains the magnificent remains of the different capitals of the Khmer Empire, from the 9th to the 15th century (UNESCO World Heritage Centre).

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Above is the view of Angkor Wat from Phnom Bakheng

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Above is Angkor Wat, Below is Bayon.

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Below is Ta Prohm

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Other than Angkor Wat there is Ta Prohm, the temple where the famous Tomb Raider was film. We were so excited and can’t wait to explore. As we have 4 nights in Siem Reap, we choose to do the temples for two days roughly following the guide and advise from Lonely Planet, we start with some smaller temples and build up to the big hitters (The Grand Circuit and follow by Small Circuit).

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The whole archaeological site is huge so we choose to do the exploration with Tuk Tuk as we are not familiar with the place. Going by Tuk Tuk is actually a great way to support the locals and give them business. We got a Tuk Tuk booked the hotel (Siem Reap Hostel). This driver can speak English and he will drive us from morning until sunset.

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Dancing Apsaras and history
I find those dancing Apsaras very interesting, are they half naked when dancing? The myth says that Apsara is a beautiful, supernatural female spirit in Hindu and Buddhist mythology. In Malaysian we call it Bidadari. The myth also say they are youthful and elegant, and superb in dancing.

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All those beautiful craving of the Apsaras were almost lost under the brutal repression of the Khmer Rouge regime of the late 1970s. Thanks to Princess Bopha Devi most of the craving has been reconstructed in the 1980s and 90s. Today, the Khmer culture still practice Apsara Dance as their Traditional Cambodian dance.

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Touristy
Siem Reap is very touristy during the dry season. On the first day of our Angkor Exploration, we have chosen Phnom Bakheng as our sunset spot. What a bad decision and we are totally disappointed. Look at the amount of people waiting to go up to the top of the temple! As the authority only allowed 300 people on top at once, the que is massive. So, we have trekked 30 minutes all the way to this hill top is to be part of the large crowd 😦

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Amount of tourist in Phnom Bakheng during sunset

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Sunrise and sunset
After that over crowded experience, we don’t expect much for sunrise and sunset in Siem Reap. So, the next dawn, instead of Angkor Wat we chooses Srah Srang to avoid the massive crowd.

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Sunrise at Srah Srang

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Finally we have a fantastic peaceful sunrise.

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Khmer Food
One of the main thing to experience is Khmer cuisine. My favourite would be Khmer Curry! They love to put pumpkin in curry and it makes the curry naturally sweet.

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Other than traditional Khmer cuisine, we are totally spoiled for choices. Restaurants are lining up wall-to-wall, offering great atmosphere and all kinds food from local to international.

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Mexican Food in Cambodia. Love it.

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Drinking
The naming of Pub Street says it all. Offering draft beer from as low as USD0.50, as the Lonely Guide book says: dive in, crawl out.

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Window shopping
The fact about backpacking is that you can’t do much shopping as you will have to carry those extra things with you all the way…

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Massage
Khmer massage in Siem Reap is a must try. USD1 with Free Beer! We opt for 60 mins foot, neck and back, USD5 only.
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After non stop walking for two days around the temples.. massage can some how ease the “over dose” of temples.

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I like free beer

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Poverty
Poverty and illiteracy was such a major problem in Siem Reap. You will see kids following you around the temples try to sell you things. They will keep begging you to buy something from them. If you turn them down, some of them may curse you.

All these are caused by the civil war and Khmer Rouge and until today the country is still recovering. It is so sad to see the kids begging on the street and not have a chance to study.

I remember one of the night we saw a two year-old kid picking up leftover food from the trash and eat it while his mother busy collecting the paper box and put it on her trishaw. He must be very hungry and haven’t been eating for some time. It is so heart ache when I see him. I walk over and give the little boy and his mother a dollar, both of them almost cried out. I know I’m not suppose to give them money as this might led them to begging (or may be not).. but the least I did something…

Below picture:
A family of five travel with motorbike without safely helmet (except the father).

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Chill time
After a few days in Siem Reap and all the travel the last day we decided to take a rest and chill at the hostel. The weather is extremely hot during dry season. When the sun is hi up there, it is kinda torture to go out there. The hostel we stayed (Siem Reap Hostel) got a nice pool so we chill by the pool and enjoy a cool afternoon.

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Participate in pool challenge with a few Australian.

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Next destination, Phnom Penh.

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8 responses to “Siem Reap Experience

  1. These ruins have been on my wish list to visit for a long time! Thanks for sharing the view of these truly evocative places!!

  2. The photo with the tree root flowing over the architecture speaks of how ancient this area is. While the queue to ascend one area did appear unpleasant, your photos suggest than other areas were not as crowded. Economic recovery from war takes generations.

    • Thanks for reading our blog. Yea other than sunrise and sunset at the suggested site, the rest of the time are still ok as the the crowd are spread through the whole archeological park. Your hiking photos are beautiful!

      • Digital photograph makes accumulating photo files so easy! The difficulty if deciding which half a dozen to include with the story. Time to post our next hike.
        Oscar

  3. I’ve seen photos of Angkor Wat in travel books, but have enjoyed yours just as much. I especially liked the other shots of the food, shops, people – I feel like I can hear the crowds and feel the heat and taste the exotic (at least for me) spices. Thank you for this, and best wishes on a good marriage and your dreams of travel. Work together and they will come true!

  4. Pingback: Border crossing from Phnom Penh, Cambodia to Si Phan Don (4000 islands), Laos | Life About Travel·

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