Exploring ancient worlds in Cambodia
28.09.2007 - 01.10.2007
Angkor Wat and the surrounding temples are what attracts most tourists to Cambodia. People spend everything from one day to weeks (okay, maybe a week. I mean, how much time can you really spend at the temples?) exploring the temples which are scattered around the area of Siem Reap, Cambodia. I spent 3 days in the temples and it was an unforgettable experience.
We arrived by boat from Phnom Penh and checked into a beautiful hotel (with a pool!). Then we spent the following 3 days waking up early to see as much as we could before the heat and fatigue got to us (and then we went to the pool! It was so relaxing in this heat). The first day, Saturday, we woke up at 4:40am to head to Angkor Wat for sunrise. Walking into the temple in the dark is very strange but once the sun came out (an unspectacular sunrise since it's the rainy season), it was incredible to be in the middle of the complex. Exploring each one slowly is the best part of the temples as they are all very different: in varied states of repair and have different artistic elements to them though they were all filled with tourists and vendors.
I won't get too much into describing the temples themselves but if you haven't been, make sure it's on your list of places to go. It's a magical experience. For me, sitting in a spot and thinking about the time and effort it took to build these temples, what was going on in the 9th or 10th century when they were finally completed--made it a more enjoyable experience.
The town of Siem Reap is the base and starting off point for all tourists. The town is geared towards them but I found it to be more charming than cheesy. It was a quiet and beautiful town, a nice break from the craziness of Phnom Penh. We relaxed, ate gelato, saw a show at dinner and got massages (Marie and Ken won Most Massages). It was great and I hope to return someday.
Interestingly enough, I just found out that my father was in Siem Reap and the temples in 1969, right before Pol Pot took over eventhough the US government told Americans not to go. Go dad. He biked through the temples and had a wonderful experience. It's interesting for me to think about us being there around the same age in two very different Cambodias. I hope the temples are still standing when my kids are my age and we can continue the tradition.