Siem Reap, Cambodia | Angkor’s AWAY

I’ve only seen and heard about the Angkor Wat in my highschool textbooks and in the Tomb Raider movie. I’m so curious what the temples look like in reality. So, when we were planning for our Bangkok trip, I had an idea to include Siem Reap in our itinerary (hitting two birds with one stone).

Since Cambodia and Thailand are just separated by a land boarder, we booked a flight going to Siem Reap and a returning flight to Manila from Bangkok. Based on the research that we did, there are buses going to Bangkok daily.
All is set and we were bound to Siem Reap International Airport. We landed at around 10:00pm, Siem Reap time. Although it was already late at night, it was still hot and we were really drenched in sweat because the terminal was very far from the airport runway (no shuttle & push carts).
Our plan was to stay at the airport until 6am. We expected that Siem Reap International airport has restaurants our lounges wherein we could spend the rest of the night. However, after the immigration process, we were surprised because the arrival area of the airport was very small -there were no chairs. And as the passengers got their baggage, they already proceeded to the exit. Okay, so we attempted to follow them but they have cars or hotel shuttle services. So we tried to walk further and see if there were establishments or convenience stores that were still open. But it was really dark outside and there were taxi & tuktuk drivers who kept calling us. We were quite scared so we went back inside the airport to think for other options. Luckily, the airport has a free wifi connection. So, what we did first was to search if there were convenience stores which are near the airport – unfortunately there were none. With this, we opted for our original plan… to stay in the airport. We were just sitted in the floor near the exit. However, after 20 minutes, the airport officers told us that we couldn’t stay – they were kinda rude. So we decided to go to our hotel even though our check-in date is on the next day , we have enough extra dollars to afford a small room (we were hoping that the hotel is still open and has a vacant room).
[Time check: 11pm] So we walked again and ignored the men who were offering us  a ride. Our only source of light were our phones. We walked until we reached the the first gate of the airport. Then, we saw a tuktuk driver who seemed kind – and he was! Based on our research, you could haggle for the price of the tuktuk ride. After he looked at the map of our hotel, he  told that it was 8USD. But the hotel seemed near so we told him that we’ll pay 5USD. He hesitated at first but eventually agreed.  Since safety is my first priority, I told my friend to secure her stuff especially the passport and I was holding a pen the entire time (for emergency stabbing purposes only) HAHA! The ride was so long and scary because there are no light posts, houses or buildings in the road. All we could hear is the revving motor of the tuktuk. After 30 or 40 minutes, we finally arrived at Reflections Art Boutique. When we were paying, the driver offered us an Angkor complex tuktuk service. Since he was kind and his price is same as what we saw on our research, we agreed and he said that he will pick us up tomorrow at 7am.

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Reflections Art Boutique was still open and we were amazed of its design and decorations. Thankfully, there was an available room which has the same price of what we booked online (tough this is a different room type). The receptionist was very kind and he assisted us to our room. Dead tired, we fell asleep right after having a shower. — Click here for the Reflections Art Boutique review

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Tuktuk
At exactly 7am, the tuktuk service arrived and we requested if we could  drop by at NATTAKAN (Cambodia) CO., LTD office at Sivatha road (near KFC)  so that we could buy tickets for tomorrow’s Bangkok schedule. They only have two trips per day, a 7am & 8 am departure time. We chose the 8am schedule. The ticket costs 28USD per person and this includes a morning snack (blueberry muffin & bottled water) and a packed lunch which will be picked up at Thailand (rice meal & juice).
 [time check: 7:45am] Afterwards, we proceed to Angkor Complex ticket booth to purchase our passes .  There were a lot of tourists but the payment and process was fast. The pass made me feel like an archaeologist because of its design and my photo was printed on it.
Angkor Pass prices:
One day –  20USD
Three days per one week validity – 40USD
Seven days visit per one month validity-60USD
At 8am we arrived at the entrance of Angkor Wat temple, Mr. Daro (tuktuk driver, finally we asked for his name) said that he’ll wait for us at the other side of the temple.
Angkor Wat
Angkor Wat, the largest monument of the Angkor group and the best preserved, is an architectural masterpiece. Its perfection in composition, balance, proportions, relief’s and sculpture make it one of the finest monuments in the world.
Wat is the Khmer name for temple (the French spelling is “vat “), which was probably added to “Angkor “when it became a Theravada Buddhist monument, most likely in the sixteenth century. After 1432 when the capital moved to Phnom Penh, Angkor Wat was cared for by Buddhist monks.
It is generally accepted that Angkor Wat was a funerary temple for King Suryavarman II and oriented to the west to conform to the symbolism between the setting sun and death. The bas-reliefs, designed for viewing from left to right in the order of Hindu funereal ritual, support this function.
IMG_5713The long “catwalk” to the temple
This is so surreal. Although the real beauty of the temple shines during sunrise& sunset, the scenery is still stunning during this time.
xxxxxApsara Statue and Devatas are characteristic of the Angkor Wat style.
IMG_5805Bas-relief
IMG_5736Decors on every corner
IMG_5767Corridor run
IMG_5929Angkor tower
IMG_5907Ceiling details
IMG_57955-meter tall statue of Vishnu, known locally as Ta Reach, revered by Hindus and Buddhists alike for its representation of the “King of the ancestors and spirits”.
IMG_5894Central courtyard, Angkor Wat
Angkor Wat as viewed from the rearAngkor Wat as viewed from the rear
IMG_5967Monkeys are inhabitants of the temple
It took us almost 3 hours to explore Angkor Wat. Take note that there are areas wherein shorts are not allowed. So, better wear long skirts, pants or anything that will cover your legs (long scarf/pashmina).
Prasat Kravan
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A small 10th-century temple consisting of five reddish brick towers on a common terrace, located at south of the artificial lake or baray called Srah Srang.
Srah Srang
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Is a baray or reservoir at south of the East Baray and east of Banteay Kdei –  a popular site for viewing the sunrise. It is cruciform, flanked by nāga balaustrades which end with the upright head of a serpent, mounted by a garuda with its wings unfurled. The steps that lead down to the water are flanked by two guardian lions.
There’s a nearby area of stalls which sells clothes and other souvenirs. We bought a pajama-type pants with elephant prints for 3USD each. As we were walking around the area, there were two kids who talked to us. They gave us bracelets and said that these are a sign of our friendship; they asked for our names and where we came from. Well, that was quite a chat but as we were heading to our tuktuk service, the kids suddenly asked us for a dollar. So, we returned the bracelets but they said something that sounded like a curse- that was very creepy.
Lesson learned: do not accept anything from strangers – even though they look very friendly.
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It’s a bit cloudy (it even rained once) but the summer heat is really draining our energy. We had lunch at a nearest canteen. It wasn’t that expensive (9 USD for the entire meal plus fruits and canned softdrinks) but the food isn’t that good. The curry is bland and the meat is very dry. All I could taste was the flavor of the carrots.
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IMG_5991There are many vendors around each temple who sell souvenirs for 1USD (magnets)  & paintings or scultupes  for a minimum price of 10USD.
Banteay Kdei
IMG_5998One of the entrances of the temple complex
IMG_6010a view of Banteay Kdei
Also known as “Citadel of Monks’ cells”, is a Buddhist temple located southeast of Ta Prohm and east of Angkor Thom. Built in the mid-12th to early 13th centuries AD during the reign of Jayavarman VII (who was posthumously given the title “Maha paramasangata pada”), it is in the Bayon architectural style, similar in plan to Ta Prohm and Preah Khan, but less complex and smaller. Its structures are contained within two successive enclosure walls, and consist of two concentric galleries from which emerge towers, preceded to the east by a cloister.
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general view
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walls with frescoes of Apsara Devata
Ta Phrom
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ruins
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intense meditating or praying figure.
Located approximately one kilometre east of Angkor Thom and on the southern edge of the East Baray, it was founded by the Khmer King Jayavarman VII as a Mahayana Buddhist monastery and university. Unlike most Angkorian temples, Ta Prohm has been left in much the same condition in which it was found: the photogenic and atmospheric combination of trees growing out of the ruins and the jungle surroundings have made it one of Angkor’s most popular temples with visitors.
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bas relief on Ta Prohm wall
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Spung on a temple in Ta Prohm
Ta Phrom is the location of the Tomb Raider movie. I felt like Angelina Jolie while exploring the place. HAHA!
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The green moss goes well with the rusty color of the walls
Angkor Thom
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Stone faces
Angkor Thom is in the Bayon style. This manifests itself in the large-scale of the construction, in the widespread use of laterite, in the face-towers at each of the entrances to the city and in the naga-carrying giant figures which accompany each of the towers.
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The corridors and its beautifully aligned pillars
Bayon
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the Bayon stands at the centre of Jayavarman’s capital, Angkor Thom. Following Jayavarman’s death, it was modified and augmented by later Hindu and Theravada Buddhist kings in accordance with their own religious preferences.
The Bayon’s most distinctive feature is the multitude of serene and massive stone faces on the many towers which jut out from the upper terrace and cluster around its central peak. The temple is known also for two impressive sets of bas-reliefs, which present an unusual combination of mythological, historical, and mundane scenes.
We finished our tour at around 4pm – we can’t feel our feet and legs anymore. Going back to the hotel, we noticed that Siem Reap is very simple, people ride bikes, there are no high-rise buildings and malls. But I’m glad that the place was a bit rural because the Khmer culture will be preserved and enjoyed by the future generations and tourists.
We rested and freshened up at our hotel and we went out to explore the other areas of Siem Reap. Walking around is quite easy because there are few vehicles and it is peaceful.
IMG_6204Pub Street at around 6:30 pm
IMG_6207Creepy critters – snakes, crickets, spiders and…roaches
IMG_6209Pancakes (1 USD)
IMG_6210Fruit Shake (1.25 USD)
Pub street is a famous night-life spot for tourists. It’s like the “Khao San” road of Bangkok- an area full bars, food stalls and restaurants. Since we were planning to eat at a canteen which was recommended by a celebrity food blogger, we just bought choco-banana pancakes and mango shake. But, it was very disappointing. The shake is not cold and they also blended the seed part. On the other hand, the pancake tastes good, but the crepe was like rubber.
So we walked to Sivatha road to find the restaurant/canteen named Chanrea Dom Makara. Unfortunately, after one hour of walking… we couldn’t find it. We even asked the locals but they just pointed a nearest canteen. Frustrated and hungry, we went to the nearest KFC to satisfy our hunger. (Funny story: as we were boarding the bus, the following day, we finally saw Chanrea Dom Makara. It’s just across KFC! HAHA!)
Our night ended at 9pm as we need to wake up early and to prepare for our trip going to Bangkok. It has been a long day for us. Exploring and appreciating the huge complex of man-made temples with intricate designs and is a symbol of culture and religion was very satisfying. Hopefully, this heritage site will be taken care of (as most of the temples are being constructed while some are totally damages) so that our future generations will still see and appreciate its beauty.
Orkun cheraown, Siem Reap!
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10 Comments

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  1. That was not nice receiving a sort of bad words from a stranger! anyway lessons learned and good to know.
    You have incredible pictures looks adventurous! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I love everything about your blog! I’m subscribing, and looking forward to seeing more posts 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. What an excellent post. I like how you talk about the bad with the good. It’s weird you couldn’t stay in the airport. I know what it’s like to not have an airport connection and it being late at night. Scary. I’m glad you were safe. You did such a good job explaining the history of Angkor Wat. Thank you for the incredible virtual tour.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Beautiful photos. Cambodia’s definitely on my list!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Here at the moment. A must visit for a photographer. Pick your time thou as many people are around.

    Liked by 1 person

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