14 April 2015

Tri-Country Trip: Cambodia's Amazing Angkor Wat

(This trip happened last 2013)

Hello Cambodia! Hello to the land of the Angkor Wat! The second country in our tri-country trip.

I could not believe that I have finally set foot in Cambodia! My main reason in wanting to go here was for the pleasure of setting sight on the Angkor Wat temple complex. Something that I have watched in the telly for years as well as constantly see online in other blogs.

A quick background, Angkor Wat is a temple complex and the largest religious monument in the world. It was first a Hindu then later a Buddhist temple. It was built by Khmer King Suryavarman in the early 12th century (per Wikipedia).

So we arrived late in Siem Reap, coming from Vietnam. That took us 15hrs of intense bus ride across the countryside. We were picked up by our bed and breakfast's (Bou Savy Guesthouse) Starex at the bus' drop-off point and carted away to our home for 2 nights. Once we got there, we were shocked to find out that there was a city-wide black-out because some truck bumped into a main power line, so there was no electricity in the guest house and other areas in Siem Reap. But the staff were kind enough to allow us to charge our gadgets in their generator.

With our tight schedule and packed with basic knowledge of what to do when you get to Angkor Wat, we started our day at 5:00 am the next day to see the world famous sunrise at the Angkor.

So here is my most awesome experience.
Upon arrival at the temple complex entrance, where it was still very dark, one has to pay for the temple entrance fee. There are 2 options, a 1-day and 2-day. We got the 1-day pass only and that was for 20 USD. You will get this ID pass which will serve as a great souvenir also.
Now this is a SUNRISE! The break of a perfect dawn! 
Once the sun breaks, it all comes too fast so you have to find a perfect spot to get your photo-worthy shot of a lifetime. Which is a bit of a challenge because hordes of people from different parts of the world are also there to do the same thing. So better to be really early and find that spot.
Here are the hordes of people that I was talking about. A lot of them are very tall too so you have to work your way through this crowd and get that special place where you can take your shots without disturbances of the occasional head or any other body part that passes through.
Happy and satisfied smiles after seeing that beautiful sunrise.
After that beautiful show of the sun rising up, we headed back again to the guest house to get some more sleep then get back to the Angkor complex around 8am to start the temple run/tour.
This was our ride. We paid extra so we can have a comfortable commute going to and from our guest house.
This was just the gateway entrance to the temple complex but we were awestruck right away with these sights! Just the thought of walking among these statues that have been built for centuries was surreal. This experience was indeed a blessing!

The Bayon temple is one of the most well-known temples in the Angkor Wat complex. A rich sight to see and corridors and hallways are everywhere.
The massive stone faces up above are the main lure of Bayon Temple. It was an awesome to be beside these monuments that have existed for the longest time. 
Paid a good 1 USD to pose with this group. Very worth it. Yep, they do accept US dollars if you do not have their local currency of Cambodian Riel (KHR). 

Elephants! How I wish I could have experienced this but no, I was not able to. 
Sugar cane juice to refresh our parched throats. It was really hot here so you really have to keep your body re-hydrated all the time. 
The entrance area shares to the public the conservation efforts being done on the Ta Phrom. 
Excited! Feeling like Lara Croft of Tomb Raider already! Haha!
There you are! The famous landmark inside Ta Phrom is this giant tree. Its roots creeping in slowly over the years to take over the structure. So amazing! And so majestic. I could not get over the fact that I was seeing it in person already. 
The intricate details sculpted in the walls. These are, I think, in pristine condition. You would not think that these were done centuries ago. 
Big Tree 1 and Big Tree 2.
Love these carved sculptures that shows bits of history and culture of the nation of Cambodia.
Spotted several worship sites that are available inside the complex. 
There were lots of temple structures everywhere, like this one, and how I would have loved to check out each one of them. But it was so hot so we just opted to see the top temples.
Souvenirs for sale! I bought a set of those key chains home.
UNKNOWN TEMPLE (was not able to get the name)
This place was like a miniature of the other bigger temples. But equally enchanting. And there were less tourists so that was certainly a welcome sight. And it was much cooler here than the previous temples that we visited.
Pay respect to their gods. Nothing wrong with that. Charge it to experience. And wishing for positive things in life is a common thing across all religions.
Of doors, and many more doors! I had so many door shots, taken in just a day.
This photo I really love so much! 
The obligatory jump shot! Took several shots but it was fun! Our feet and shoes were so dusty because of the parched land but this was still better rather than roaming around on wet grounds while carrying an umbrella or donning rain jackets. I still like this better.
I did not know what the stacked stones meant but it gave an air of mystery to the place. 
We were all so relieved with the electric fan blowing in our faces and sitting down comfortably was a relief. This was a late lunch so we were all famished!
Our food was good. Tasted very similar to our Filipino home cooked fare. We wiped them out fast!
This was a very tiring experience but wonderful nonetheless. Truly a beautiful place! Since I am very much attracted to places with historical and cultural significance, this was a perfect thing for me. Me and my friends were dusty, sweaty and bone-tired but the experience was something that I would cherish until I grow old.

I recommend this kind of trip while the Angkor Wat complex is still in good condition. Time will definitely damage this place slowly and it will be restored but being surrounded by its old feel is still much better. Well, that's me speaking.

It was a great temple run day, Angkor Wat!


Watch out for my Cambodia (Siem Reap) and Thailand (Bangkok) posts soon! =)

Check out the first country of my tri-country trip: 
Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam

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