Thursday, May 21, 2015

Angkor Wat. Siem Reap, Cambodia

Angkor Wat

4AM. Even with just a few hours sleep, all three of us woke up and got ready for a full day of temple hopping. With very limited time in Siem Reap, we wanted to see all the Temples in just one day. We already booked a tuktuk before arriving in Cambodia (see previous post for our tuktuk's details) and had already discussed with our driver, Mr. Kim, our most ambitious itinerary. I thought he would say no and that it was impossible but he said yes to sunrise in Angkor Wat to lunch in a far away temple and another one even farther and back to Angkor Wat for sunset. We were up for some serious Temple Run... Tuktuk version.

First Stop: ANGKOR WAT.

Mr. Kim picked us up at 5am from our hotel Banyan Leaf. It was still quite dark when we left but Mr. Kim told us that the earlier we got there the better since we would be waiting for sunrise with a lot of tourists. Angkor Wat is just 6km away from the town so it's not that far out of a ride. We would pass by backpackers in bicycles (wanted to do that) and tour groups in buses, vans, and cars. It's cheapest to go by bicycle if you have the time to slow things down, you can rent one for a day at 1 to 2 US dollars. Getting a car is lot more expensive.

Angkor 1 Day Pass

Before going in the the main complex, we had to get our Angkor Pass for USD20 at the tourist center. Long lines but fast and easy. You pay, they take a photo of how glorious you look like early in the morning at the booth, and voila you have a pass. Two to three day passes cost USD40 and a weeks worth is USD60. NEVER LOSE YOUR ANGKOR PASS as guards would sometimes check this before going in a temple. You also don't wanna go back to the tourist centre ro get a new one. Waste of precious time.

Going in.

After securing our Angkor Passes, we drove in to Angkor Heritage Park. Light was starting to peek through trees lined along the streets headed towards the moat of Angkor Wat.

The sky was a lovely gradient of pink and blue and silhouettes the biggest religious site in the world starting to reveal before our eyes.

Hundreds of tourists waiting for sunrise. Add in some hawkers, too.

I honestly imagined tourists would be scattered around the grounds sitting and waiting but no. Everyone wanted to have that money shot of Angkor Wat's silhouette reflecting on one of the ponds so everybody was in one area. It didn't feel cramped though. It was still alright. My fantasy peace and quiet sunrise with an amazing view just wasn't near reality. :)) 

It was around 5:45am and we heard the sun was gonna come up behind Angkor Wat at around 6:15am. So, we decided to eat at one of the food stalls inside the complex. Two girls have been following us around asking us to eat at their stalls.  Maybe we looked that hungry. Haha By the way, we ate at Lady Gaga's stall. Yes that was her name. We had two omelettes and a coke. :)

Kids selling souvenirs will also test your patience. Just don't give in. You are stronger than that. One boy asked where we were from and when we said we were Filipinos he went on and on about Manny Pacquiao. We still didn't buy his goods though. Lol Anyway, it's a bit more pricey to eat and buy stuff inside the complex so bring your own food if you can and buy souvenirs outaide for cheaper prices. But buying from the locals inside is not bad at all if you have the extra moolah.

After a pleasant gastronomic performance by Lady Gaga, the main event was right on time.

And then... THIS!



After taking photos from all angles of this gorgeous sight and when everyone else was still busy with the sunrise, we immediately went inside the temple to explore. And of course take more photos.

Going in.
One of the many ornate walls of Angkor Wat.


Huge. View from atop a mini temple inside.

I was up there. :)

Up to the peak! Restorations are non stop, too.


Met some new friends too. I like their sense of style. Hehe Choose to wear comfy clothes and shoes by the way. Getting around involves a lot of walking and the weather will get hotter as the day goes by.

Also, we were a bit unsure if we could wear tank tops and all but we chose to be safe and wore clothes that didn't show too much skin as some temples are still being actively used by monks to pray. Regardless, it's a religious site so might as well wear proper clothes so not to show any disrespect.

Enjoying the morning sun with Ynah beh. Haha

Ynah and Judy Joy ♥
Ipad pa more! Yung shotabmels pagodacoldwave lotion na meym!

Judy Joy taking more photos.
Huge galleries inside the temple.

One can climb steep staircases and see an even better view of Angkor Wat and it's surroundings.

Monk about to go in and pray. Politely asked if I could take a photo and he said yes with a smile! :)

As we left Angkor Wat to visit more temples at Angkor Thom and even outside the archeological complex, I thought, what more can Siem Reap offer after that? We've all seen postcards and photos of how beautiful Angkor Wat is but once you get to see it in person, it is beyond compare. It's bigger than you imagine. The details of the Khmer people's history on its walls are just incredible. It's structure is mindblowingly out of this world. It is very symmetrical and intricate. Yet, despite the grandeur there's still that mystery and delicateness of an ancient treasure found hidden under a forest several years ago.

You will never regret a single step and a single minute when you experience Angkor Wat. 

Just ah.maze.zingg.

So, Angkor Wat is now a big ass check on the bucket list. On to more yet distinct temples in Siem Reap. Back to our tuktuk.

Let me know what you think of this post. You may comment below. :)
(Next post: Angkor Thom, Ta Prohm, The Pink Temples, and Beng Mealea)

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