Discover Angkor Wat (Day 1 – Day 3)

Feb 11

After flying for 2 hours, my plane finally touched down at Siem Reap international airport at approximately 8am Cambodian time. The flight was not full and I had all 3 seats to myself. It only cost me RM114.50, thanks to the free tickets giveaway promotion on last year. Since I had pre-booked my room in The Siem Reap Hostel (US$8 a night), I was not in hurry to reach Seam Reap town to look for a place to stay. That was the only accommodation I pre-booked for the whole journey. In the airport, I met a group of tourist from USA. Coincidentally Charles and friends happened to book their accommodation at the same hostel. So we shared a van to the hostel. It was less than RM5 per person.

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Charles and friends

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Sleeping in a dorm is quite an experience. I had to whisper, tip-toed and use flash light to look for my stuff in my bag so that I don’t wake up other guests.

When I reached the hostel, it was too early to check in. So I hang around at the cafe near the lobby to do some work. The first thing I did after check-in was take a shower to freshen myself up after spending a night in the airport. After that, it was exploration time. Armed with a town map and free bicycle from the hostel, I hunted for my lunch and toured the town looking for places of interest. The town has little interest for me. My ultimate purpose in Seam Reap was to visit Angkor Archaeological Park. I decided to cycle there in hope to catch a glimpse of the magnificent monument before the full exploration on next day.

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View from the hostel

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My first meal in Siem Reap. Food is quite expensive in Siem Reap. It cost me 12,000 Riel (RM10) at a roadside food stall. Can you believe that?! Damn you bloodsuckers!

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Siem Reap town (Old Market)

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A place for you to splurge. All kind of pubs and restaurants are here.

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It has Swensens!

The journey from the town to Angkor Archaeological Park was further than I expected. Because it was dry season, I huffed and puffed dust into my lung while cycling. Unfortunately, the furthest I could reach was at the ticketing check point. To go further, I had to buy ticket. The entrance ticket is not cheap. The cost of 1-day ticket is US$20, 3-day is US$40 and 7-day is US$60. If I purchase the ticket after 5.00pm, I can use it for the next day. Since it was only 1.40pm, I had no choice but to turn back to the town. When I reached the hostel, my butt was damn sore. That made me think twice about exploring the temples using bicycle tomorrow morning.

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Even though the sign says 5.30pm, the actual time for the ticket to valid for the next day is 5pm.

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The Angkor map

In the hostel I met my roommate from Japan. Masaki just arrived from Phnom Penh. We decided to visit the temples after 5.00pm to enjoy the sunset in Angkor Wat. We went there by hiring a tuk tuk (27,000 Riel). After getting my photo taken and printed on the ticket at the ticketing booth, we were allowed to venture further. After a distance, I finally laid my eyes on the magnificent temple bathe in golden sunlight. It was quite thrilling to see the temple for the first time. After, immersing myself in the wonder of the temple, we had to leave at 6pm. We just had a short preview of what to come tomorrow.

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Yay! My one day pass.

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Ah… finally. Angkor Wat, here I come!

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The “bridge” leading toward Angkor Wat.

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Angkor during sunset

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The sunset

We began our 1-day Angkor Archaeological Park exploration on 7.30am also via tuk tuk (US$15). Not being a morning person, we decided to skip the sunrise. Since we have visited Angkor Wat yesterday, we decided to head straight to Angkor Thom; the biggest complex in the archaeological park. That is where the Bayon temple is located. The most distinctive feature of Bayon is the giant four faces stone structure. We spent at least one hour in the temple. Other than Bayon, there are other temples and sites of interest in Angkor Thom. We have visited Baphuon, Phimeanakas, Terrace of the Elephants and North Kleang.

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Me, Masaki and our tuk tuk driver

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Heading toward South Gate of Angkor Thom

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The Bayon temple

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Is this really stair?

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The four faces of Bayon temple

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The linga stand

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The Apsara dancers

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An artist capturing the beauty of the Bayon faces on canvas

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A very long wall of stories

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The pathway leading towards Baphuon

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Young children peddling souvenirs are everywhere

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Phimeanakas

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North Kleang

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North Kleang

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North Kleang

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Contemplating on life

Angkor Thom is surrounded by walls at four sides with five gates. On the east side of the wall, there are two gates. One is Victory Gate and the other less known gate is the East Gate a.k.a. the Ghost Gate. The gate that I’m interested the most is the Ghost Gate because it was isolated from all tourist. The only way to access the gate is via a dirt road which are partially hidden in bushes. Initially, the tuk tuk driver was a little bit reluctant to bring us there. Maybe the gate is forbidden or the roads are too bumpy. He didn’t manage to find the road leading to the gate at first. He took the wrong turn and we ended in another hidden monument most probably known as East Prasat Top. We finally found the gate on our second attempt. When we reached the gate, it was eerily quiet. We were the only living being at the gate. Soft breeze with dried leaves falling down from trees only made the gate more mystical. We exited Angkor Thom via Victory Gate not long after that.

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The road leading toward the Ghost Gate

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The East Gate a.k.a. the Ghost Gate

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The Victory Gate

Before we headed for lunch beside Sras Srang reservoir, we stopped by at Thommanom and Chau Say Thevoda just outside the Victory Gate of Angkor Thom. After lunch we continued to another highlight of the Archaeological Park; Ta Prohm. This place is made famous by the big boobs Lara Croft (played by Angelina Jolie) in the movie Tomb Raider. The most distinctive feature of Ta Prohm is the huge roots of fig and silk-cotton trees that looked like swallowing the rock structures. Another temple with similar impressive setting is Banteay Kdei. We continued our journey to Pre Rup.

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Thommanom

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Chau Say Thevoda

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Ta Keo

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Ta Prohm

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Sorry. No Angelina Jolie. Just me.

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Me again.

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Still in Ta Prohm

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Another big tree trying to swallow the temple in Ta Prohm

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Pre Rup

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The giant stairs up Pre Rup

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Some weird statues on top of Pre Rup

Since we still have plenty of time left, we decided to “rediscover” Angkor Wat and we glad we did. We realized we did not fully discovered Angkor Wat on the sunset visit a day earlier. There were still plenty of things to see. By the time I finished with Angkor Wat, I was temple-overdosed; tired and everything beginning to look almost similar to me. We spent more than 1 hour in the complex before headed back to Siem Reap town.

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Inside Angkor Wat

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Angkor Wat

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Carving in Angkor Wat

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I left Siem Reap for Bangkok the next day. I took a local bus (US$7) from Siem Reap to Poipet, a town at Cambodian side of the border. On the Thai side, the town is call Aranyaprathet. During the trip, most of the road are unpaved. It made the journey slower. But it is better to travel on dry season than on wet season. I heard the journey would be longer and more torturing in wet season. After crossing the border, I took a moto (50 Baht) to the bus station. Initially, I planned to take the train to Bangkok, but because of the stupid bus journey took longer than I expected, I missed the last train to Bangkok. I had no choice but to take the public bus (207 Baht) to Bangkok. The bus journey took almost 5 hours.

2 comments

  1. sadumoorthy /

    BEAUTYFUL TEMPLE,WONDERFUL,I FEEL THAT I WAS IN 12TH CENTURY

  2. Chhorm Vannylyda /

    Really feel Excited when see most all of foreigner preferred to Come to Visit Angkor Temple ,,,Its is the one of wonderful temple in the world,,

    I am proud of myself that i can be born in this wonderful Land ,,,

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