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Siem Reap Day 3: Sunrise and Temples of Roluos

Sunrise Over Angkor Wat

It was an early morning as we were scheduled to see the sunrise over Angkor Wat. You can read about our day exploring Angkor Wat here. We arrived at 5:00am and sat on the stairs of the southern library while drinking coffee. There were a lot of other tourists there but not nearly as many as I expected. I was glad that I didn’t have to stand or photograph over the tops of peoples heads.

For a long time it didn’t seem like there would be any color in the sunrise, it was also very cloudy. At the last minute, the clouds broke apart and we got some lovely pinks and reds! It was absolutely beautiful and a sight to behold!

the sun rises over Angkor wat

A Countryside Buddhist Temple

Afterwards, we went back to the hotel to eat breakfast before heading out to Phnom Kulen National Park. The main goal of the day was to see the “most beautiful waterfall in Cambodia” as our guide described. The drive was 2 hours and we made several stops along the way. The first was at a Buddhist temple at the top of a mountain. On the way up we stopped at a banana stand that sold 7 different varieties of bananas including small red ones that are only available in this area. The red bananas tasted a little tangier than regular yellow bananas and were very good.

red banans in phnom kulen national park

The temple was very busy with locals and tourists alike. We paid a little old woman to watch our shoes for us as we made our way up. We ascended the stairs to view the huge reclining sandstone Buddha located at the top. There were so many people trying to view the Buddha and the area was so small that we had to walk in a single file line to get a good look.

The River Of 1,000 Lingas and A Waterfall!

Next we went to the river of 1000 lingas, a short drive from the temple. We walked along the river until we got to a location where the water was shallow enough to see the bottom. There are literally thousands of lingas carved into the bottom of the riverbed. A linga is the Hindu symbol for man and woman. It looks roughly like a square with a circle in the center. The story is that the water passes over the lingas to provide blessings to the people using the water below.

Another short drive away was the waterfall! We initially only saw the very top portion and were unimpressed. While we were waiting for our lunch, Kettya encouraged us to walk further down the stairs. What an amazing sight! It absolutely was beautiful and there were a lot of tourists and locals swimming underneath it. A swim would have felt really nice considering the heat but we had not come prepared for it so we just looked instead.

The Temples Of Roluos

After lunch we started making our way back to Siem Reap. We stopped at several temples of Roluos located in the Bakong District on the way back. These temples were  built in the 8th and 9th century making them much older than the ones we had seen in the Angkor area.. They were also much more run-down as they had not been as refurbished for tourists.The best part was that the area was completely empty, we saw 3 other tourists the entire time we were there. I loved seeing the temples that were off the beaten path a little more and as a result, getting away from the crowds.

A Massage And Gelato!

We ended the evening with a great massage and a delicious dinner at a local restaurant near our hotel named Mahob. Most noteworthy was the gelato sampler I ordered for dessert with passion fruit, pepper and lime, basil and lime and dragon fruit flavors! Due to having seen so many temples the previous day it was great to do something a little different. It was actually really nice to be able to sit in an air-conditioned car and see the country landscape in a less crowded environment.

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