AnneMarie and Andrew

Annemarie and Andrew – Trekking Asia

Siem Reap: Day 3

Posted on Jan 5, 2014

This was to be our best day around the Angkor temples. We had deliberately left Angkor Wat to the final day on the recommendation that if you see the best first everything else would be a bit dull and not as impressive. We had also booked a tour so we had a guide for the day. Even better the tour was limited to no more than 8 people and included lunch. The tour was at the top end of the budget but worth it to be in a small group been taken around the fantastic site of Angkor Wat. The day started with the tuk-tuk arriving at our hotel at 7:45am. The tour guide was riding with us and we were to meet the rest of the group by the temples (they had been at Angkor Wat for sunrise). Our guide was telling us about the upcoming protests planned in Phnom Penh as workers demand a salary with covers basic living costs. In Cambodia the cost of living is very high compared with the local average salary, it may seem cheap to us but we earn over ten times the average salary of most Cambodians. Update: As I write this a week later the protests have taken place and the military police opened fire with live rounds on the protesters killing a number of them. Our first destination was Ta Prohm, colloquially known as “Tomb Raider Temple” because this was the location for filming the first tomb raider movie. Our guide described it as the baby of the temples because it is one of the newer temples in Angkor, built around the beginning of the 13th century. We then headed towards Angkor Thom, which took us through Victory Gate. Angkor Thom was the final and largest city of the Khmer empire. At its centre is the temple of Bayon. Our guide led us around the temple telling us about how, when and why it was built and also giving interesting information on Buddhist and Hindu beliefs and explaining the poses of the statues. He knew the stories behind most of the wall carvings and suddenly what we were looking at made sense and seemed real. We were looking at stories about battles, we could see who won and who lost. We could see which tribes and peoples from across Asia were involved in the battles and we could even see their fashions and weapons. The guide was certainly giving us our money’s worth… After Bayon we walked over the road to the temple of Baphuon. We had already been in here on our first day around the temples but...

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Siem Reap: Day 1

Posted on Dec 29, 2013

We had read before arriving in Siem Reap that getting the three day pass was the best way to see the Angkor area. The Lonely Planet guide had a recommendation to spend the first few days exploring the smaller temples further away and build up to Angkor Wat on the final day. Otherwise, after seeing the biggest and best first everything else would look a small and not as good in comparison. For our first day we decided to hire bikes ($2 for a bike with gears) and cycle around the perimeter of the main temple complex and visit some of the more remote temples. We cycled past Angkor Wat and continued towards Angkor Thom. Angkor means city, wat means temple and Thom means great. So this was the great city, the capital city of the Khmer Empire, which once covered all of modern day Cambodia, Thailand and Laos. Angkor Thom is surrounded by a moat, 3 km long on each side and there is a gate on each side. We cycled though the southern gate. On either side are a long line of people pulling a snake. One side represents good, the other evil. This comes from the Hindu story about the Churning of the Ocean of Milk. At the centre of Angkor Thom is the huge temple of Bayon. The tour we had booked on our final day visited Bayon so we cycled around it until we reached Baphuon. The temple is big and very high. It has an impressive walkway leading to the temple and then has three levels to climb up. The original steps the monks would have used are too steep and dangerous for tourists (although the modern wooden steps put in place are still precariously steep). There isn’t much to do here other than climb one side and come down the other after a few minutes at the top. The path at the back of the temple lead directly to another temple hidden away in the forest, Phimeanakas. There was very little to this temple other than it was high and steep. There was no art or carvings preserved. By this time it was about midday and getting hot. Annemarie decided she was staying in the shade, so I took the camera and went alone. The steps to the very pinnacle were smooth and slippery and incredibly narrow. Once at the top I found a shrine for Buddha and a woman selling incense, I was wearing shoes so I couldn’t enter and immediately went back down. After this we wandered back to the road and walked along the Terrace of the Elephants. It...

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