The primary reason that we had come to Siem Reap was to visit the Angkor temples, and most famously Angkor Wat itself. It seemed that every other traveller, tourist, student and holiday-maker had come to Siem Reap too. The town was overrun with tourists. Normally we would have been put off by this, but within hours of arriving in Siem Reap we had fallen under it’s spell and were really enjoying our new Cambodian experience.
The Khmer people were very friendly, the Khmer food delicious and the town had a great ambience – almost a French café culture, perhaps inherited from Cambodia’s past or just man-made to keep the punters happy? Difficult to say. Either way, we felt instantly comfortable and were in no hurry to see the temples as we chilled out around town soaking up the atmosphere. After a couple of days and one late night staying up until the early hours to watch England’s debut in the World Cup 2010 against USA in a jam-packed lively bar, we hired a tuk tuk driver for the day and set off for Angkor Wat.
They say you need time to enjoy the temples and now I can understand why they offer entrance tickets valid for one day, three days or one week – the city is massive covering 1000 square kilometres! I had done the homework so we knew which were the main temples that we wanted to visit to during our day trip – the chosen ones being Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom and Ta Prohm, with a couple of smaller ones along the way thrown in.
The bridge into Angkor Thom The south gate into Angkor Thom Bayon (inside Angkor Thom)
Angkor had been the capital of the Cambodian empire, dominating South East Asia between the 9th and 14th centuries, and it was clear to see why. We were impressed by the size and grandeur of the ruins. And such intricate detail on such a large scale, taken centuries to construct. The famous Angkor Wat was well worth the entrance fee by itself, but my favourite was Ta Prohm which has been left pretty much in the state that it was rediscovered with ruins being taken over by the jungle and tree roots growing over them. Ta Prohm is also famous as being one of the locations for the film “Tomb Raider” starring Angelina Jolie.
Many photos later and with a little sunburn, we had completed our day trip out and set off in search of our ride home, deliberating if Angkor Wat deserved it’s reputation as being the 8th Wonder of the World. We decided it probably did.