Siem Reap – home to the world’s largest religious building, Angkor Wat. The town itself has a French feel to it – tree lined walk ways next to the river, many bustling markets, and so many places to eat you are spoilt for choice! It is a pleasant, chilled out town, and one we thoroughly enjoyed exploring.
Our first day before hitting the temples was spent meandering through the streets, exploring the markets (where Paul and Chris couldn’t stop shopping), various temples, and the Royal Gardens.
In one particular temple there must have been some kind of celebration going on as it was very busy. There was a group playing traditional music in one corner, and opposite some monks blessing people. With all the noise, colour, and incense lingering in the air it was a true vision of Asia right there!
That evening outside our apartment we were asked to join a group of Khmer guys for a few beers.
Another moment where you truely appreciate just how friendly and welcoming the Cambodian people are – would you invite a group of foriengers to sit down and have a few beers on your porch? I’d guess not! How anti-social are we? These things make us realise how cut off we must seem to other nationalities.
The evening was good fun – a couple of them knew basic English, and we practised our basic Khmer – to much entertainment!
Now, the Temples if Angkor. Where do i begin?! A brief history, then the pictures really do speak for themselves – just imagine Indiana Jones (and Lara Croft Tomb Raider which was actually filmed here), that should give you some idea as to the ancient beauty and mystery of the Temples of Angkor.
According to my guidebook, ‘there is no greater concentration of architectural riches anywhere on earth’.
This place is massive. We took two days to explore it, and we didn’t cover it all.
Angkor Wat is the Khmers’ national symbol, and they are incrediabley proud of it. Thankfully the Khmer Rouge decided to leave the Temples of Angkor intact, as they destroyed every other religious symbol during Pol Pot’s reign.
The Temples are spread out over miles of forest, some quite intact, others left to ruin. We rented a tuk tuk driver out for the two days to take us around the temple complex – there were people cycling however it was so bloody hot you would be a dripping mess after 30 minutes!
The following temple we had to climb 627 steps to reach the top. The Police officer who was on duty at the temple kindly decided to take us on a tour.
Our driver was a really great guy, he was full of information and spoke to us about his family life etc. At the end of the second day he even let Paul and Chris drive the tuk tuk for a bit back home. It was very funny – we were getting very strange looks from people – a white guy driving a tuk tuk with the Khmer guy as a passenger?!
Whilst driving home they had to manover around some interesting obsticles…
Some pictures of the Cambodian countryside we passed on the way….
Overall, Siem Reap and our visit to Angkor has been brilliant. The temples were truly mesmerising, and we feel very lucky to have seen them.
Just to finish, some pictures of the animals we encountered at Angkor Temples…