Posts Tagged ‘Siem Reap’

Temple Day 2: Angkor Wat Sunrise and Banteay Srey

Posted in Cambodia on February 21st, 2010 by Vagablonding – 1 Comment

On the morning of Friday, February 19th, we got up early at 4:15am and got on the bus at 5:15am to go to Angkor Wat to watch the sunrise. It was gorgeous! It was crowded but it didn’t matter, there were still excellent views.

Sunrise - Angkor Wat, Cambodia

Sunrise - Angkor Wat, Cambodia

Sunrise - Angkor Wat, Cambodia

We wandered around Angkor Wat for a couple hours while the crowds were small.

Angkor Wat, Cambodia

Angkor Wat, Cambodia

Angkor Wat, Cambodia

Eventually we came to the line to go up to the top terrace. They only let a certain number of people up at a time because the stairs up are steep and dangerous and it would get too crowded otherwise. There were guards turning people away for not wearing the proper attire (shoulders, belly, and knees covered). The view front the top was awesome.

View from Angkor Wat, Cambodia

Ariel top of Angkor Wat, Cambodia

We left Angkor Wat and rode the bus for 45 minutes to Banteay Srey, the women’s temple. It’s a small temple with amazing relief carvings.

Banteay Srey, Cambodia

Banteay Srey, Cambodia

On the way home we had a brief stop at the Landmine Museum ($2 admission).

In the evening mom donated blood at a children’s hospital.

Donating blood in Siem Reap, Cambodia

Then we had massages and I did the fish massage where the little fish nibble your feet. It tickled A LOT.  Tomorrow we are leaving Siem Reap for Kampong Cham.

Temple Day 1: Preah Khan, Bayon, Ta Prohm, and Pre Rup

Posted in Cambodia on February 20th, 2010 by Vagablonding – Be the first to comment

Thursday, February 18th, was day 1 of temple touring. First we bought our mandatory temple passes. The price was $20 for 1 day, $40 for 2 days, or $60 for 7 days. The thing about these passes, though, is that they are sold by a Vietnamese hotel chain called Sokha Hotel Inc. Guards are posted at all the entrances to the temples checking passes, so you have to buy one to see the temples. BUT this company does nothing to maintain the temples! They just give 15% of their profits to the very corrupt Cambodian government and keep the rest for themselves. UNESCO maintains the temples. This hotel company just has a huge scam going on to make a ton of money. It’s sickening and I’m sorry I participated in it.

The temples were all lovely, of course. First we went to Preah Khan, which ended up being my favorite. Built in the late 12th century as a Buddhist monastery, it is filled with beautiful carvings, reliefs, trees growing out of the walls, and tons of passages, rooms, and courtyards to explore. We were with our Intrepid group and we kind of rushed through, only staying for an hour. This wasn’t enough for mom and I so we ditched the group and stayed for another hour. I’m glad we did; there was so much more to see!

Preah Khan, Cambodia

Apsara dancers carving - Preah Khan, Cambodia

Preah Khan, Cambodia

Preah Khan, Cambodia

Preah Khan, Cambodia

Preah Khan, Cambodia

Next we took a tuk-tuk to Bayon, the temple with all the carved stone faces. Bayon was also very cool, but I’m glad we spent more time at Preah Khan and less at Bayon. Also Buddhist and built in the 12th century, Bayon has 37 huge towers and almost all of them have 4 large faces carved on them. We ran into our group at Bayon so we got a free ride back to the hotel. Good timing.

Bayon, Cambodia

Bayon, Cambodia

Bayon, Cambodia

We had a rest at the hotel and a walk for ice cream in the afternoon before heading out to Ta Prohm. Ta Prohm is famous because it was the setting for the movie Tomb Raider, and it is unfortunatly overcrowded for the same reason. It’s a lovely temple, notable for the many trees still growing out of and over it, but the large crowds and recently installed wooden walkways really detract from the expierience.

Ta Prohm, Cambodia

Ta Prohm, Cambodia

Ta Prohm, Cambodia

For sunset we went to Pre Rup, a Hindu temple built in the late 10th century. It’s quite tall so it made for a nice place to watch the sunset, despite the many other tourists who had the same idea.

Pre Rup, Cambodia

Sunset - Pre Rup, Cambodia

In the evening we had dinner at a place on Pub Street called the Temple Club where they had cheap drinks and a free traditional dancing show, a fine combination.

Cambodian Apsara Dance

Tomorrow we’re getting up bright and early to watch the sunrise at Angkor Wat. :)

Battambang to Siem Reap via River Boat

Posted in Cambodia on February 17th, 2010 by Vagablonding – Be the first to comment

Wednesday, February 17th, was mostly spent in transit via boat from Battambang to Siem Reap. At 7am we boarded a little boat with 2 rows of seats, a roof, and a tiny 4 foot tall squat bathroom so precarious I was the only one that dared to use it, which I did twice. I have good balance. We floated down the Battambang River for 5 hours; it was much more fun than I was expecting! We’re probably the last Intrepid group to go to Siem Reap by boat rather than by bus this season because the river is getting very low and we got stuck a few times. From our boat we saw a side of Cambodian life that few tourists get to see. The people that live on the river live in either little huts on stilts, floating huts, or their boats with rickety walls and a roof. They bathe in the river (which is filthy), wash their clothes and dishes in the river, and fish in the river to get their food.

Battambang River, Cambodia

Battambang River, Cambodia

Battambang River, Cambodia

Battambang River, Cambodia

Battambang River, Cambodia

Battambang River, Cambodia

Battambang River, Cambodia

Gas station - Battambang River, Cambodia

Battambang River, Cambodia

Battambang River, Cambodia

There were lots of ridiculously cute kids along the river that would run up to the edge of the water to wave at us and yell “bye bye!!!” I got quite the arm workout from all the waving. I’d post pics of them but I think I would get in trouble with the law since most of the kids were half or fully naked.

After 5 hours on the river we got to the Tonle Sap Lake. Tonle Sap lake is the largest freshwater lake in Southeast Asia, and it is the reason the ancient Khmer civilization was centered at Angkor (and why the temples were built there). But from my vantage point on the boat, Tonle Sap Lake was large, brown, and boring. I took a picture for posterity.

Tonle Sap Lake, Cambodia

We crossed the lake in about an hour and were soon at the docks near Siem Reap.

Siem Reap docks, Cambodia

We got off the boat and onto a bus that took us to Siem Reap proper. I was tired so I spent the rest of the evening sleeping. Tomorrow is temple time!