As the capital of Cambodia, Phnom Penh is a very large and very busy city. The main sight to visit is the Royal Palace. The king still resides here so some buildings are off limits, but there are still many to explore. It is a beautiful, but maybe a little gaudy, complex with golden roofed, high spired buildings and many stupas and wats. The city has a really nice river walk along the Mekong River with tourist restaurants and bars. The walk also passes the Palace and through some remarkably clean, for Asian standards, sights and communities.
Angkor and area
Siem Reap is the capital city in the Province and mostly used as the overnight lodging for visitors to the Angkor temple complex. There are numerous hotels here and Pub Street, whose name explains what you’ll find. It’s a fun area but the exact opposite to the historical areas of Angkor.
Our hotel arranged a tuk tuk driver to pick us up at the airport. We ended up hiring him for our 5 days in the area and he was a great ‘guide’. We started our temple visits with the smaller temples and left Angkor Wat for the last. We visited Ta Prohm which is in much decay and the jungle has completely taken over. There are the jungle’s trees and their roots growing right through and around the buildings’ walls and floors which makes for great photos. We also went to smaller and mostly ruins of Preah Kahn, East Mebon, Pre Rup, Ta Som Ta Keo. We ended at Phnom Bakling which is a small sight, but is mostly intact. Our driver planned so that we would be here at sunset as the sunset creates an ’Alpen glow’ on the temple.
On one of our days our driver took us to Tonle Sap. This massive lake floods the nearby villages during monsoons. But during the dry seasons these villages are mostly dry. We saw it during the dry season which I think was even more interesting. We took an incredibly overpriced boat trip down the river though the village. The houses are built up high on stilts and hovered 15 m above us. It was really incredible to go through as see hundreds of houses built this way. The boat ride was really over-priced, but in the end I’m glad we saw it.
This is the last temple we saw before Angkor. It is quite far away, 30 km, on a tuk tuk, but well worth it. The temples are intricately carved and built with pink sandstone. The detail of the carvings is very different from any of the other temples in the area. Our driver said the locals say it was carved by women because it’s so delicate.
Our driver picked us up at 5 am so we could see the sunrise over Angkor Wat. It seemed like everyone else arrived at the same time, but we were in the second row of a long line of people that by the end was at 12 rows deep! Arriving early is definitely the key to great photos. I don’t even know how to describe Angkor Wat. It’s an incredibly beautiful architectural structure built for the gods/kings by slaves. Every inch of every wall has beautiful carvings depicting life, myths, people and religion of the time. This massive temple is in remarkably good shape. You’re free to roam through most of the complex inside and out. It gets pretty overwhelming with so much to see. Of course there are thousands of tourists, but we were still able to get plenty of great pictures.
Angkor Thom is the ‘city’ near by the Wat. Bayon is one of the temples in this area. It was built by one of the kings in the late 12th century. The temple has hundreds of pillars with carvings of the same face facing East, West, North and South on all 4 sides of the pillars. Our driver said the face looks like the king of the time and they believe he was trying to intimidate the villagers when they came to the temple. Other sights within walking distance are the Terrace of the Elephants and Terrace of the Leper King. They are both detailed with their own unique carvings and should not be missed
For more pictures from our trip check out our video on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_rhx7RK_uno
For more pics from our blogs go to Gallery at monkeystale.ca