Some say that the Angkor Wat complex is as huge as the city of Los Angeles. Some say that it is even bigger than that. From what I have seen when I came there, I must say that you need maybe at least 3 days to explore the entire complex. Cambodia's national pride - the Angkor Wat is an image of how rich and vast their culture is. To really understand it, one may opt to hire a guide so that they can explain to you the meanings of the images around the temple.
Part of the package we availed at Bou Savy Guesthouse includes a tour to the temples. Our first stop was the Angkor Wat. Be sure to bring your umbrellas or hats when you visit there during the summer months. Or else, be prepared to buy hats from vendors outside the temple. Try to haggle though, to get a good price. Before you can enter the temples, one must secure an Angkor Wat Pass. Prices are USD 20 for a one day pass, USD 40 for two days pass and USD 60 for seven days pass. One doesn't need to change their US dollars to the Cambodian currency, Riel because US dollars are widely accepted in Cambodia.
Angkor Wat is one of the most important archaeological sites in Southeast Asia. It contains the remains of the Khmer empire and is believed to be designed and constructed in the 12th century during the reign of King Suryavarman II. Most of the temples are made of sandstone and shows the magnificent craftmanship of the Cambodians. Angkor Wat has been the main tourist attraction in Cambodia.
|Angkor Wat Pass|
The road to Angkor Wat is well-paved. I can still remember how happy I was in the tuktuk knowing that in a few minutes, I will be able to see the Angkor Wat. It's a dream come.
|My first glimpse of Angkor Wat|
|In and around the Angkor Complex|
I had the chills when we entered the temple - still high and in complete awe! I have read a lot about Angkor Wat before I went to Cambodia and seeing it up close was surreal. There were a number of images around the temple - soldiers in battle, people praying and the apsara.
|Images inside Angkor Wat|
|An entire wall of images and stories|
After the Angkor Wat, we made our way to the location of Angelina Jolie's movie, Tomb Raider. Huge trees seem to have eaten the temples because large roots have sprung on the temple walls.
|The Banteay Kdei, also known as the "Citadel of Chambers" and the "Citadel of Monks"|
|Tomb Raider was shot here at Ta Prohm|
The temple of Ta Prohm was built between the late 12th and early 13th century. Unlike other temples, Ta Prohm was left in much the same condition as it was found - the combination of trees growing out of the ruins. It was even made famous because Tomb Raider was shot there.
There were vendors selling different merchandise in the area. I met a little Cambodian girl selling rice papers with Angkorian designs. She speaks straight English and has very, very good selling skills. She even explained to me how those rice papers were made. I had a hard time saying no to her. Good thing though, she let me took a picture of her even though I didn't buy.
|Some of the interesting things you will see in Angkor|
After hours of touring around the temples, Ani, our tuktuk driver took us to a nearby eatery. I ordered Amok. According to Wikipedia, "This is probably Cambodia's most well-known dish amongst visitors; there are similar dishes found in neighboring countries. Freshwater fish fillet (commonly snakehead fish, or Mekong catfish) is covered with an aromatic kroeung (pounded shallots, lemongrass, garlic, kaffir lime), roasted crushed peanuts, coconut milk, and egg and then wrapped in banana leaves and steamed until it achieves a mousse-like texture. Unlike the Thai, Lao and Malaysian versions of the same dish, it is not intended to be spicy but rather fragrant, zesty and flavorful."
|We ordered Amok and omelet|
After a hearty lunch, we resumed with the tour and went to Bayon tample, famous for having intricate and gigantic smiling face carvings on the towers. It is the last state temple to be built in Angkor. I think Bayon is one of the most intriguing and beautiful temples we visited. We even encountered some monks there. It is a huge temple and I have read that there were approximately 200 faces around it. Some say that the faces in Bayon has a great resemblance to King Jayavarman VII himself.
|Bayon temple, the most beautiful I have ever seen|
|Bayon up close|
|Images on the walls|
My trip to Angkor has been interesting, intriguing and awesome all at the same time. One can easily get lost and imagine how grand and beautiful it must have been years ago. There was so much history in every temple, in every wall and in every design. Truly, Angkor is one of the most important archaeological sites in our world today.
|Posing before a beautiful backdrop|
|Basking in Angkor's beauty and splendor.|