Posted by: James Shannon | September 10, 2011

The Angkor Wat Post (And A Li’l Bit Of Siem Reap Too!)

A healthy portion of scrumptious Cambodian breakfast rice lies before me in Kratie, Cambodia.  I would need the fuel, as this was the day I was to hop on a westbound bus bound for Siem Reap, home of one of the most famous ruin complexes in the world, Angkor Wat!

After a brief stopover in Kratie, a pit stop intended to avoid a midnight arrival in Phnom Penh (not the safest city after dark), or a back-breaking 20+ hour bus ride to Siem Reap from Laos, it was time to make good on a date with one of the most famous ruins in world … ANGKOR FREAKIN’ WAT!!

Let’s get right to it, shall we?

Just one photo enroute, as most of the terrain was as flat as a pancake … this is a tributary of the mighty Tonle Sap River, which flows from the equally massive Tonle Sap Lake, by far the largest freshwater lake in SE Asia!

Made it to my hostel after a gruelling day on the Khmer asphalt to find that … IT HAS A POOL!?!  Frackin’ SWEET!

… not to mention a fully-stocked bar and restaurant right alongside the water, and you have one hell of a place to stay (The Siem Reap Hostel) … at $7 USD a night for a dorm bed, it was worth every penny!

The Central Market in the centre of Siem Reap … found my little sister’s souvenir here.  Had to get some money from the ATM before coming here, and I found they all spit out US dollars.  I knew before that Cambodia largely uses US dollars instead of its official currency (riel), but I didn’t know it was to that extent!  You still get riel back as change alot of the time though, which requires prodigious currency conversion skills to avoid getting shortchanged!

Near Pub Street, in downtown Siem Reap.  Many restaurant dishes, most for under $5 an entree, from Cambodian to every Western cuisine you can think of … even Mexican.  Yup. I had Mexican food in Cambodia, and it was quite decent.

After taking a day to get settled, I made arrangements with the front desk for transport to Angkor Wat the next day.  At 1pm the following day, my surprising trustworthy and knowledgable tuk-tuk driver picked me up in front of The Siem Reap Hostel, and drove me the 10 + km out of town to the park gates, where we began our exploration of the biggest ruins of Angkor Wat…

Arrival at a world-famous scene: the promenade leading to the largest of the Angkor ruins (forget the exact name, blah)

A stone lion stands guard, ready to mow down any intruders

A Hindu image stands inside one of the outer buildings in the main temple complex … contrary to popular belief, Angkor Wat is NOT of Buddhist origin, though it is presently part of Buddhist lore, dating back from when the complex was taken by Siamese (Thai) forces many hundreds of years ago.  The Siamese were eventually driven out again though, giving rise to the nearby townsite’s name, Siem Reap (Siam defeated).

Long, lonely hallway, Angkor Wat

In the outer sanctum: the remains of a courtyard pool, perhaps?

Ancient Khmer script, on a wall near the remains of the courtyard pool

No matter how sacred or famous the site, it’s unescapable … VANDALISM!!  sigh…

Approaching the tower in the middle of the inner sanctum…

Ah, there it is!  This should be fun…

Killer view from of the highest towers in the main temple complex @ Angkor Wat

As fun as climbing into the inner sanctum tower was … getting down?  Not so fun 😛

After sweating my butt off tramping around the major temple complex, it was time to see some smaller, yet less crowded ruins … on the way to the next set, we crossed a bridge lined with these creepy looking faces … that’s one way to dissuade door-to-door salespeople, I guess 🙂

Arrival at the smaller complex … as advertised, this place was less overrun by people … there was still number of tourists about the premises, but I felt more like a Tomb Raider than a tourist in this sector of Angkor Wat.

Words fail to describe the beauty of this stone carving, so I won’t even try

Wandering around the labyrinth-like passageways like Lara Croft…

… we come across this creepy-looking Buddha idol in a dark alley … what other treasures await our brave adventurer?

… a beehive?!  AHHH, killer Africianized honeybees!!  Back … away … slowly … WHEW.  That was close!  (thanks to a Brazilian dude off-screen for alerting me to its presence, or it could have ended worse!)

Climbing the highest hill in the Angkor Wat area to watch the sun set…

Another Hindu idol, honouring the holy cow with joss sticks and incense

Not a textbook sunset, but the massive clouds it is sinking into provide a hint of what happened later that evening (next photo essay will kick off with the results of said event!)

With a bucket list worthy accomplishment ticked off, I headed back to the Siem Reap Hostel with my mind already set on the next locale in Cambodia … the beautiful (but slightly shady) Sihanoukville, which is the countries’ fun in the surf and sand destination!

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Responses

  1. A GREAT COUNTRY TO VISIT. DEFINITELY IN MY TRAVEL LIST

    • It will definitely change your perspective on life … thanks for stopping by! 🙂


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