Monday, June 1, 2015

Lost in Temples. Siem Reap, Cambodia

Demons at the Gate.
My previous post was solely about Angkor Wat and some info on how to get around the famous religious site in Siem Reap. This time I’ll show you mostly photos of even more temples inside and outside of Angkor Wat Archaeological Park.

After seeing a beautiful sunrise at Angkor Wat and exploring for hours, we decided to move on to the next stop: ANGKOR THOM.

Angkor Thom is smaller walled complex inside the Archaelogical Park. It was built in the 12th Century by King Jayavarman VII and was considered the capital during the King’s empire.

Just a short tuktuk trip from Angkor Wat, we went through the South Gate to enter the walled city. We were greeted by statues left and right of the causeway; ones on the left looked happy, smiling, and peaceful while the ones on the right were not too happy to see us with their serious and not-so-welcoming angry faces. I later found out the ones on the left were the gods and the unapproachable ones on the right were demons.

Passing through the bridge and into the main gate of Angkor Thom one will notice four faces looking at the four cardinal directions… and many more faces when you reach Bayon.

Angkor Thom South Gate

Bayon is known for the many smiling faces atop its towers. Originally, 54 towers with 4 serene and warm smiling faces each but I guess now it’s not complete.

Bayon Temple


Ynah and Judy Joy

What I loved about Bayon was that its smaller halls and galleries and libraries made the experience more intimate. Just make sure you come earlier than everybody else so you won’t be waiting for other tourists to take photos is that same spot you’ve been eyeing on.

Behs at Bayon Temple

With Mr. Kim (tuktuk driver)

Since Mr. Kim (, our tuktuk driver, was gonna meet us at the parking area we just walked around to the neighbouring temples of Bayon. We visited Baphuon, which had a long runway looking front passage so off course I walked the walk. 


From Baphuon, we found this big gateway that no one was checking out. We went inside and found a somewhat secret garden amidst all the tourists and tuktuks and chaos of a tourist spot. Turns out, the gateway was part of Phimeanakas, which was in the old times, the Royal Palace area.


We rested for a bit and of course took pictures. Be careful though when you go to less crowded places as you don’t know if you should be there or something might go wrong. Always be cautious.

Terrace of the Elephants

After taking our selfies, we walked to the Terrace of the Elephants. At this point, it was already getting really hot, good thing just a little past the Elephant terrace and in front of Leper King Terrace was the parking lot where we met Mr. Kim and his other tuktuk driver (who apparently adores Filipinos) and bought some refreshments for 1USD.

It was almost lunch and we had 3 more big temples on our itinerary. We saw some monkeys along the road and they were cute and jumping around.

Ta Prohm
Next stop, the temple that Lara Croft: Tomb Raider made Hollywood and world famousTa Prohm.

AND INDEED IT WAS A BLOCKBUSTER! Hoards of tourists were going in and out of Ta Prohm! As we were hungry, we bought corn and iced tea from one of the many stores outside the gate of Ta Prohm where tou can buy food and clothes and souvenirs. MAKE SURE YOU HAVE 1s and 5s USD to make buying stuff easier. There’s also a public restroom somewhere there, in case you need to go. When inside, one can see men playing musical instruments asking for donations as they were affected by landmines scattered in Cambodia a few years back. If you can and have extra, why not give a little donation, that’s good karma.

Off to eat! Thank you Ta Prohm!

Mr. Kim brought us to this restaurant to have lunch, we asked for something cheap and it was not that cheap so we decided to buy a pad thai and tom yam and share it among us three. It was still filling but the  taste was just okay. I guess Mr. Kim has a deal with the resto where he brings in customers and he gets a meal everytime for free. But all was good, the place had airconditioning and had a pretty garden outside that gives a more relaxing feel after all the rock ruins and stones we’ve been seeing.

Pad Thai and Tom Yam
Re-energized! Ready for more temples!

Our next destination was Banteay Srei also known as Pink Temple.

Banteay Srei

After hearing about how much our mentor and friend missed going here when she went to Siem Reap, I couldn’t help but research and know more about it. Probably an hour or bit less away from Angkor Archaeological Park,
the pinkish color of the temples come from red sandstones, the material in which it was mostly built with.

On our way to Banteay Srei, we got a glimpse of the lives of the Khmer people. We got to see traditional Khmer houses and how they usually go about their daily lives. Khmer people are very simple, warm, and friendly, some would even wave at us when we passed by.

Banteay Srei is my favorite in terms of decorations, although it is much smaller in scale than other temples, it compensated its lack in size with an abundance of intricate details. The carvings were beautifully done with such precise indentions and depth and detail. The details of the wall carvings looked so delicate. I was in awe!


We met this little girl as we went out of the Pink Temple. She was selling us 10 postcards for just 1 dollar. She said, ‘You buy, I go to school.’ That instantly made us weak. Of course we bought her postcards. Love this little girl.

Gas stop.
We reached our final temple destination, Beng Mealea, just in time for golden hour and it was like I went to a familiar yet magical place.

Off to nowhere.
Beng Mealea is the farthest temple we went to. More than an hour I think from Banteay Srei so that’s 2 hours away and 40KMS east from Angkor Heritage Park.  Mr. Kim the route where Banteay Srei is is the longer route. We had no choice. We were there and that was that. We felt like we were crossing the border to Vietnam or Laos already.

We passed by literally barren land. Dry, hot, and empty. There was a point that after 30 minutes or so on the way, a lone motorcycle came out of nowhere! We all secretly freaked out. Hahahhahaha We thought we were gonna be kidnapped. Hahahha Paranoia! But NO, again our driver, Mr. Kim is the best and the nicest so nothing bad happened.

FYI. Entrance to Beng Mealea is 5USD. You need to buy a separate pass at a tourist center along the road for you to get in the temple.

Beng Mealea was massive! It had such presence I don’t know why. Much like Ta Prohm, nature crept into the massive temple and its ruins. It felt mysterious and magical and enchanting. Add to that it was golden hour, so everything was just a sight. Despite the ruins, one can still see well-preserved galleries and libraries and carvings on walls. One can climb up and down on the fallen walls and I even got to go inside and pass through a dark gallery! I felt more Lara Croft here than Ta Prohm actually. Haha There is also a massive courtyard when you reach the back that seemed endless! Beng Mealea was a beautiful place to end our temple run. What I’m writing here and how I describe it is not even close to what is it in real life.

We left Beng Mealea at sunset. We couldn’t be back in time to see the sun go down from atop a temple in Angkor Wat but the view on the countryside going back to the main town was just as breathtaking. Too bad our cameras and phones were all dead, we couldn't take photos.

Couple of hours on a tuktuk and a head-dropping incident that caused my friends, Ynah and Judy Joy, to panic (coz I was super sleepy. LOL) we were finally back to our hotel. Showered and rested and I ordered Iced Coffee from Banyan Leaf Hotel’s bar to wake me up. Then it was off to dinner and some drinks to end our tiring but satisfying day.

Looking for dinner.

Dinner at PUB Street yet again. :) Had my usual coke with dinner, cheap beer, YUMMY dessert at BLUE PUMPKIN, and 1.50USD rhumcoke on the street.

Souvenir hunt at the Night Market. The night market is pretty close to Pub Street. It's the the end of Street 7 when you cross Sivutha Blvd.


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