This week we arrived in Siem Reap. Most people go there for one reason, the beautiful Angkor temples. Angkor was the capital center of the Khmer Empire. The ruins of Angkor are located amid forests and farmland north of the Great Lake (Tonlé Sap) and near Siem Reap city.
Any hotel or hostel in the city offers a tour to Angkor. We decided to arrange it ourselves with a tuk tuk driver we found on the Facebook page Inside Cambodia. His name is Mr. Sok Lin. He would get us the next day at 4:30 in the morning before the sunrise. And yes, the next day he was waiting in front of our hotel. The ticket office at the temples opens at 5 o’clock in the morning. We wanted to be there on time because of the long queues and to watch the sunrise. From the ticket office, it’s another 3 to 4 kilometers to the entrance. Once arrived at Angkor Wat it was already busy. We looked at sunrise and then we proceeded directly to the next temple. After the sunrise, everyone goes inside Angkor Wat. We have therefore done all other temples first and last visited Angkor Wat again.
Mr. Sok Lin brought us to Banteay Kdei and Srah Srang. Lovely, because nobody was there. We could explore it in all peace and with a beautiful morning sun. Banteay Kdei is a Buddhist Temple. Srah Srang is a lake, the story goes that it used to be the king’s pool. Mr. Sok Lin stood at the exit of the temple waiting for us to go to the next.
Pre Rup is a Hindu temple at Angkor, built as the state temple of Khmer king Rajendravarman.
After Pre Rup we went to Ta Prohm, it is one of the most visited complexes in Cambodia’s Angkor region. Ta Prohm is famous for the temples that are overgrown and covered by trees. Ta Prohm has been left as it was found, showing exactly what the jungle can do when it takes over control. The roots of the trees attach to the porous sandstone, extracting the water from the stones. The roots are firmly placed on the building itself, slowly crushing it but also holding it up at the same time. Unbelievable..
The temple of Ta Prohm was also used as a location in the film Tomb Raider.
Then Mr. Sok Lin brought us to Ta Keo and Chau Say Tevoda. Two smaller temples, but still so impressive to see! Ta Keo is a temple-mountain, possibly the first to be built entirely of sandstone by Khmers. Chau Say Tevoda is a Hindu temple.
During that day it was so hot, and no wind. Luckily we had the tuk tuk who brought us everywhere. The temple complex is so large that it’s almost impossible to walk. The sun is really burning and there’s almost no shadow. The stones give a lot of heat as well. Some people rent a bike, but it is also tiring. The temples are quite far from each other, sometimes a few kilometers.
After the lunch we went to Angkor Thom. Angkor Thom means “the great city” in Khmer. The 12th-century royal Buddhist city is especially famed for its grand Bayon Temple but has several other sights of interest as well. The Bayon is best known for the mysterious faces on its many towers. It’s one of the temples we found the most impressive.
The last temple we visited was Angkor Wat again. Angkor Wat is a temple complex and the largest religious monument in the world, on a site measuring 162.6 hectares. It was originally constructed as a Hindu temple of god Vishnu for the Khmer Empire, gradually transforming into a Buddhist temple towards the end of the 12th century.
It was almost the end of the day so it was quiet. We were able to see everything and make beautiful photos. Super tired but satisfied we walked back to the tuk tuk. The temples of Angkor were truly a highlight of our trip around the world. It’s something you should have seen once in your life! We are glad we have been able to admire this.