Monday, December 29, 2008

Angkor Wat & The Temples of Angkor - PART ONE!


Back on track...

Angkor Wat has always been one of our top list of "must see" "must go" destination. And when we finally took the courage to do one of those "just book and go go go" attitude, we find ourselves packing for Cambodia!

We were supposed to only be there for 3 days, which were enough (by our standards) to settle for Siem Reap, Angkor Wat and the Temples of Angkor. But TTT won't settle for 3 days! Instead we stretched it to one week exploring both SR and Cambodia's bustling capital, Phnom Penh.

The Travelling Teddies are not temple buffs but Angkor is a whole different spectrum. And as much as we didn't want to miss it, we didn't want to be too ambitious by spending too much time just exploring the complex. Heard there were more than 50 temples all around. We settled for 5, maybe 6 - and that was enough for us because after the 2nd, everything starts to resemble similarities!

And so we bought a One-Day pass which incidentally includes a free sunset! Well, not that i think we have to pay to watch sunset (duh...) but it was a treat all on its own. Not only do you have to climb uphill to watch it, you will have to fight for a spot from the possibly hundreds that shared the same motive and sentiment.

BEAR NOTES: This "sunset treat" is not mentioned in travel guides, but purchase after 17:00hrs, the day before your intended temple tour, and you'll definitely get your money's worth.

Angkor Entrance Fees:

1-Day Pass - US$ 20 per pax (includes free sunset if purchase day before intended travel, after 17:00 hrs)
2-Day Pass - US$ 40 per pax
4-7 Day Pass - US$ 60 per pax (consecutive days only)

Only cash (USD ONLY) is accepted, no plastics :)

This is the map of the complex (click to enlarge). From the city centre, it takes at least a good 40 minutes by tuk-tuk to get to Angkor.


Our first stop is the majestic UNESCO World Heritage Site, Angkor Wat which is the nation's pride and joy - and with good reason why. Tourism is predominantly the country's most lucrative source of income and a good motivation for its people to bank on improving themselves (like taking up English lessons so they can participate in the industry), which to me is a progressive start to development :)

Quite a fair bit of the temple were under "re-construction" when we were there. This "disturbing condition" of the temple is largely due to natural erosion and deterioration of the stone as well as massive tourism. As you may know, ancient temples are put together using natural adhesives like egg whites and animal by-products so they tend to be very fragile too.

And because of this restoration work, we were not able to see the entire display of the much famed Churning of the Sea of Milk gallery.

But! We did manage to snap the bas-reliefs on the other side of the gallery!

And a whole lot of other Apsara reliefs...

which is fast becoming part of the ruin..

There are quite a bit of walking to do in the main Angkor Wat complex itself, but nothing can actually compare to the massive beauty and marvel from the first sight. It is a massive structure covering 500 acres of wonder, and as you get closer, it only gets bigger!

How You Can Bearishly Enjoy Angkor Wat & The Temples of Angkor:
  1. START YOUR DAY EARLY, but not at the expense of a good night's rest! When we told our driver to meet us at the hotel at 7.30am, he was wide-eyed in disbelief. NOT because it's too early, but usually people will want to be there as early as they can to avoid the crowd and the blazing sun! (it can get bi**hingly hot!)... But TTT needs sleep. Good sleep will almost promise a good day and a good journey! :)
  2. GOOD WALKING SHOES are a necessity. You will walk a lot on ruins that are uneven. So a good walking shoe will ensure you get the support you need. It will help to bring a face TOWEL and SHADES as the walking will sweat you out and the shades are to protect you from the sun, as you stand high up on the temple towers!
  3. If you have only one day, exploring 3 most important temples are a MUST! The three are: ANGKOR WAT, TA PHROM (where Tomb Raider was shot) and ANGKOR THOM (Bayon).
And last word for my fellow Muslim travellers... even though there are some Muslim restaurants readily available in Siem Reap, there are NO MUSLIM food vendors, restaurants or stalls available in the complex (or even near it). And since Cambodia is big on meat and pork, our advice is to bring along snacks with you on the trip. Get a good breakfast before you go, pack some snacks like Granola bars (like we did!) and enjoy the entire day exploring the ruins.

The best part about this is that between 12pm and 2pm - the crowd goes out to lunch! So you can practically get the entire temple to yourself! :P

We ended our trip at close to 17:00hrs that day and went straight for a good dinner at D'Wau Restaurant, which we will speak more of on Part Two of our Angkor journey!



Blog Widget by LinkWithin