Siem Reap and Angkor Wat

I took an almost 2-year hiatus from blogging about this trip, but today after looking through old pictures, I decided to complete it. I spent 3 weeks straight without an internet connection in Myanmar and Perhentian Kecil. Initially, I missed the connection to the outside world; but then I enjoyed it and decided to stop blogging while traveling.

I dropped my passport and Visa application off at the Burmese Consulate in Phnom Penh and then jumped on a bus to Siem Reap. The 2 cities are only 200 miles apart, but the bus ride takes 7 hours because only part of the road is paved. Luckily I was on a nice coach bus with reclining seats.

The drive from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap. Only part of the drive is unpaved like this.

When I arrived at my hostel in Siem Reap I met some folks who had gone to Angkor Wat at sunrise. They said that it was cloudy and not worth it. I then met two other people who had just arrived, and we decided to see the temples together. None of us had any interest in doing the sunrise tour, so we agreed to leave at 9 am the following morning.

The walls of Angkor Wat have intricate carvings

The creators of Angkor Wat were very meticulous about the construction. Most interior walls are covered with intricate carvings that tell stories. One of the stories is the Indian epic called the Mahabaratha. I then learned that Angkor Wat was originally built as a Hindu temple, and then it was turned into a Buddhist temple.

A scene from the Mahabaratha
Inside the walls of Angkor Wat
Angkor Wat
Another shot, without me :-)
These stairs are much steeper than they look. The iron railings are also too hot to hold onto for more than a few seconds. The others made fun of me for descending too slowly. At one point, I climbed down backwards as if it was a ladder.

After seeing Angkor Wat, we went to Ta Prohm, aka the “Tomb Raider” temple. This was my favorite because it feels like you’re walking through the jungle and then stumble upon a lost civilization.

A tree growing on top of Ta Prohm. Look how tiny I am compared to the tree’s roots!
I appreciated how they did not clean up the crumbling blocks.
This is one of my favorite pictures.

We grabbed a quick bite, and then saw Angkor Thom, a city protected by a moat and walls.

A Buddha carving above an entrance to Angkor Thom.
The entrance to the city of Angkor Thom.

The first temple we saw inside the walls of Angkor Thom was not as spectacular as what we saw at Angkor Wat or Ta Prohm.

This was one of the temples inside Angkor Thom. I had just come from Ta Prohm, so this one felt a bit underwhelming.
Another view of the same temple. I do like how you can see the building blocks of this temple, and imagine how it was built by stacking stones.

Bayon, also inside Angkor Thom, was my second favorite, after Ta Prohm. The temple has hundreds of faces carved into its towers.

Bayon, which is massive.
Each tower has multiple faces carved into it.

After our day touring the temples, we went out to pub street in Siem Reap, and as you can see below, I enjoyed it.

The following day we walked around Siem Reap, and then went to this temple to watch the sun set. I forget the name of the temple, but we lucked out with the weather, and the sunset was beautiful.

I took the earliest bus back to Phnom Penh because I needed to pick up my passport and Visa before flying to Yangon. The road was so bumpy I was worried that we’d get a flat tire. At the bus station, I found a tuk-tuk and went straight to the Burmese Consulate, again worried that the tuk-tuk would get a flat. I made it to the consulate before it closed, picked up my passport and visa, and got a flat tire on the way to my hostel. I had all the time in the world at that point, and didn’t mind at all as the driver melted the rubber tire to cover the hole in his flat tire.

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