I had one last day in Siem Reap, and I spent most of it hanging by the pool.
I did step out for a little. I found a great cafe and walked around the downtown for a bit to see the Khmer New Year decorations, but all in all I used today to catch up with family (Happy Easter!) and sleep.
Today I decided to tackle some temples on my own (well, with my driver’s help). I started at Banteay Srei, known for its beautiful carvings. One of the farthest temples, it’s well worth a visit!
From there I went to East Mebon, which was my favourite of the day. I left pretty early in the morning, which was nice, because it meant the temples were still not that full by the time I arrived.
Next up is Ta Som. While I exploring I heard thunder and so this temple visit was cut short. I made it to the tuk tuk just before the rain started to pour!
From here we moved to Neak Poan. My guide actually told me about this one yesterday. The temple is made of 5 pools. There are 4 pools, one for each elements (air, water, earth, fire), all of which are connected to the pool in the middle.
The last temple was Preah Khan. It had stopped raining at this point, however, the floor inside the temple is not even so I was stopped by large puddles a few times and decided not to go further. It was a long ways to where I could see people past the puddles, and I expected to find more and more in the ruins.
But the best part of my whole Cambodia trip was seeing the Phare Circus. All performed by Cambodians, this is their cirque du soleil and it was great!
Today I got myself my own tuk tuk to take me around to some temples, and a guide to tell me all about them! Do you think I’ve remembered any of the information I learned so I could pass it along? No chance of that! I barely even remember the names of the temples, but know that I was glad to have had the guide to learn about these places while I was there.
Our first stop of the day was Angkor Thom. This was the capital of the Khmer empire (consisting of Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam) in the 12th century. The carvings on the temple are exquisite – they show the daily lives of the people, along with the large faces carved into all of the towers (4 faces per tower). It was definitely the most awe-inspiring temple to me.
Originally a Buddhist temple, when it became a Hindu temple all the Buddhas were either destroyed or turned into Hindu gods. You can still see the empty spaces where the Buddhas would have been.
Nearby was the Elephant Terrace, where in the past the elephants used to be. We know this by the many elephants carved along the walls.
Next up was Ta Prohm, also known as the Tomb Raider temple, as this is one of the film locations used.
And we ended in Angkor Wat, the temple I visited yesterday. You’ll see some pictures of very steep stairs – this was so when you climbed to the top of the temple you’d have to use your hands and feet and crawl your way to the gods. Of course, the staircase for the king was not as steep as the rest.
We finished by lunch, and I relaxed at the hotel for the rest of the afternoon. It was simply to hot to do anything else. But that evening, my hotel sent me to a restaurant with a traditional Cambodian dance show.
It was interesting to see the dance, and understand the stories they told, but I was more excited for the Cambodian Circus show tomorrow.
I got to Siem Reap around 10am and boy was it hot. I’m in town for 4 full days (including today), which is quite a long time, so I did not feel bad in the slightest when I spent all morning lounging by the hotel pool.
But I did get out that evening, to go have a quick sunset view at Angkor Wat. Built in the 12th century, it is the largest religious monument in the world, and is the most famous site in Cambodia (it’s even on their flag).
The directions given on where I should go to see the sunset were vague and unhelpful, so I ended up seeing it set on the moat. But I wasn’t concerned – I got to see a bit of the temple today, and I’d be back tomorrow with a guide to show me around.