Cambodia, Siem Reap Day 1: Angkor Wat
Arrival In Siem Reap
Our flight landed in Siem Reap from Seoul at about 2:00am so we slept in on our first morning in Cambodia. In the afternoon our tour guide from Indochina Pioneer named Kettya picked us up. We also had a personal (air conditioned!) car and driver named Mr. Hok. The number one priority and first activity on the list was the famous Angkor Wat temple.
Angkor Wat Temple
Angkor Wat is a UNESCO world heritage site and was built in the 12th century mainly from sandstone. Some sections also were stucco-ed in order to be intricately carved. It, and the majority of temples in the Angkor area, was originally built as a Hindu temple but was eventually converted into a Buddhist temple at the end of the 12th century. The temples are mainly Buddhist to this day. However, the Khmer Rouge cut all of the heads of the Buddhist statues off during the civil war, which began in 1970.
THE Angkor Wat
The entrance to the temple is incredibly impressive. There is a large moat surrounding the entire temple complex. You have to approach the entrance by walking over a long bridge and then through the temple grounds. There are 2 libraries on either side of the temple as you approach. The grounds around the ruins are maintained but immediately outside are dense forests.
Angkor Wat is so large that you could literally wander around all day and not see the same area twice. The carvings are so incredibly intricate and are floor to ceiling on every surface including walls, columns, ceilings and door frames. We were able to see some monks wandering the grounds but they are a bit illusive and tough to photograph. After our trip to Chiang Mai (which you can read about here) where I was disappointed to not see very many monks, I was determined to get some good photos.
From left to right: a horse in front of one of the Angkor Wat library, monks admiring the carving in Angkor Wat, Angkor Wat carvings, a family of monks relaxing in Angkor Wat
We spent several hours wandering the grounds of Angkor Wat. Despite it being winter, it was scorching hot and just as humid. It was an incredible thing to be able to see this amazing site in person. It is something I never thought I would be able to do and I feel so lucky!
Lotus Farm, Sunset and Khmer Food
We left the temple just in time to drive to a nearby lotus farm and rice field. We just barely made it in time to watch the sunset reflecting in the farm waters. Afterwards we went to Pub Street where we had our first taste of Khmer food at a restaurant called Champey. What an amazing day!