Cambodia, is in the bucket list of many travellers, mainly, because of Angkor Wat! Angkor Wat (“City/Capital of Temples”) is a temple complex in Siem Reap, Cambodia and one of the largest religious monuments in the world, on a site measuring 162.6 hectares. (Ref : Wikipedia)
Some Important History : Originally constructed as a Hindu temple dedicated to the god Vishnu for the Khmer empire, it was gradually transformed into a Buddhist temple towards the end of the 12th century. It was built by the Khmer King Suryavarman II, in the early 12th century in Yasodharpura ( present-day Angkor), the capital of the Khmer empire, as his state temple and eventual mausoleum. Breaking from the Shaiva tradition of previous kings, Angkor Wat was instead dedicated to Vishnu. It has become a symbol of Cambodia, appearing on its national flag. (Ref : Wikipedia)
Having watched quite a few videos about this place, I decided, it was time, to tick this off my bucket list. After some quick research on the flight and stay options, I was all booked and ready.
Important Facts :
To visit Angkor Wat, you would have to enter via Siem reap. Siem Reap has an international airport and has flight connectivity to any of the hubs like Bangkok, KL and Singapore.
There is an entrance fee of USD 37 for the pass to Angkor Wat. Yes, you read it right….they charge you in dollars.
A very strange thing that I noticed. All ATMs give out two currencies – Cambodian Riel and USD. Any international card used for withdrawal, will give out USDs.
Tourists are dealt only in USDs. While buying anything, any change in between USDs, is tendered in Cambodian Riel.
This is what most of the tourists do. They wake up early, as early as 4 AM, head to Angkor Wat and watch the sun rising from behind the temple.
I did the same. You can book a taxi / a remorque (Tuktuk) / cycles for touring Angkor Wat.
I booked myself a cycling trip of Angkor Wat. The cycling trail was about 20 kms long, so you can make out, how big the place was.
I was picked up from my hotel, was driven to the place where you can buy the day pass or three day pass ( USD 55, if I remember correctly) and then, driven to Angkor Wat.
The sunrise will make you speechless! The red hue in the sky can only be partially captured. You need to visit this place, at least once in a lifetime!
Here you see, tourists, all lined up, to see the sunrise.
It is really crowded, and quickly, I had to look for higher grounds, for my DSLR shots.
That’s Me! 🙂
Shot on D5300 zoom lens…
Our cycling guide – Mr. Chen. A local, who provided a lot of insights on Cambodian history and the history of Angkor Wat. The information was very detailed and intriguing.
The moment I saw it, I knew it was a Buddha statue, only to be corrected by Chen, that this was Lord Vishnu! You find this at the entrance of main temple of Angkor Wat.
That’s our cycling group – Erica Lim (NewYork), Marijke Hovenier (Netherlands) and Chen (A localite who would cycle us to the wonders of Angkor Wat. We also cycled to Bayon Temple ( Amazing smiling Buddhas) and Ta Prohm temple ( Tomb Raider Fame). I would cover them separately.
The sunrise was amazing! We had visited on one of the mornings, when, it didn’t rain, in the monsoon season. And it was so so crowded. I wonder, what happens in the peak season!
These are stone sculpting on the temple walls. The intricacy will simply blow your mind. And guess what, this was done in the 12th century!! Almost 1000 years ago!
Few more shots of temple interiors…!
Chen described this beautifully….”That’s the library, which doesn’t have a single book”! A deep statement which would make you introspect on the country as a whole.
The temple was looking marvellous, at the back drop of the clear blue sky!
A quick note here. You need to have your shoulders and knees covered, when you visit the temples, in Cambodia. And a sarong does not work. Though its hot and humid, you would need to plan your dresses accordingly!
The walk around the temple takes good 1-1.5 hours. You would enjoy it more, if you have a local guide, briefing you about each of the sculpting and the history!
You would find a few headless statues like this. It is said that, during the famous coup, people had entered Angkor temples and had destroyed the heads the statues they could lay their hands on. Some even sold these heads to antique buyers! i wonder, who would do that, but, it happened in Angkor Wat!
That’s me…with all my Gear 🙂
The DSLR shots that you would get, is amazing! The walk round the temple is worth it!
Angkor Wat, in daylight!
While we moved on to have breakfast in the jungle and start our cycling trip, I was in deep thoughts! The cycle above reflects the true condition of locals in Cambodia. They are poor, but, they are reliable! They don’t have much education to back themselves, but their spirit and attitude is all that matters…for us and for them!
One request….when you are in Cambodia, to bring a smile in the face of the localites there, buy from them. Buy from the locals. Enroll for tours which are done by locals. In that way, you contribute to their living and well being!
And yes, it is very safe! And the people are amazing! Like this one below :
Do you want to know his story, which brought tears to my eyes? Stay tuned for my food expedition blog :)…Coming Soon!
More to Come…Bayon Temple and Ta Prohm Temple / Cycling Tour / Street Food Tour (What the locals eat)!