From my previous post, you would probably be able to tell that my Cambodia trip was a more chilled out, enjoy, no rush kind of trip. Pretty different from how I travel when i'm traveling alone.
Hanging out with daddy (or mum - any parent really) means there is no need to rush, thats just the way we prefer group trips.
Cambodia has always, ALWAYS been a place I wanted to visit. I've always wanted to go the Angkor Wat temple. I've always imagined it to be like some archaeological site, cum Dora-the-explorer-come-to-life, cum all that Tomb Raider coolness. Alas, life is not a movie. It was still really cool though. Just less the movie effects.
ANGKOR WAT TEMPLE
Angkor Wat temple was the first place temple we visited. Before going to cambodia, I did not realise that the Angkor region isn't just a temple, it's a WHOLE COMPLEX. A MASSIVE COMPLEX.
Some people are able to go through temples like... I don't even. They do 10 temples in a day! How?
I for one will never be able to do that, because I wouldn't be able to digest everything I see.
Since Angkor Wat is a protected area, despite all the rivers drying up in the summer, the moat is ALWAYS filled with water. This moat around the entire complex is a protection. Restricted access, so that people can't go into the temples and steal things (that happened in the past).
Angkor Wat Temple is the biggest temple in the complex, and although it's not the cheapest, to be able to fully appreciate the temple and history fully, i'd recommend getting a guide on site when you get to the temple, at least for the massive temple. Wouldn't have known about the moat if I didn't get a guide!
Lots of people recommend not spending the money ($15-20) because you can read the facts on your own. Unless you're the kind that reads up about the history of places before visiting them, I doubt you'd get much value from visiting Angkor Wat Temple without a guide. I'm more of an audio learner, so i'm usually pro audio/people guides.
*Note: At least for the big Angkor Wat Temple, I think it was worth getting a guide! Smaller temples you can do without, or just eavesdrop on other people's guides. I understand mandarin, so I did lots of mandarin tour guide eavesdropping from passing Chinese tour groups.
Our Angkor Wat Temple guide brought us through the temple, explained the legend behind the carvings, pointed out which images depicted the good guys and which were the bad guys, how immortality was shown in these carvings and the symbolism of different statues found in the temples.
*Note: When visiting temples or places of worship, always wear something that is appropriate. And check before you leave! Dad and I had to repack THANKFULLY, when I told him about the temple dress codes after finding out 1 day before our trip!
The entire tour of the Angkor Wat temple took my dad and I roughly 2 hours or so, because we went to all the different levels and saw as much as we could. Thankfully it was the low season, so temples weren't crowded. Apparently they get up to 7000 visitors in a day during the peak period. How insane.
Even though getting a guide was kind of expensive for 2 people (you pay a fixed price, so if you go in a bigger group the better!) I'm glad daddy persuaded me to spend that little bit of money at least for the big Angkor Wat Temple.
Since we had a late start to the day, by the time we got done with Angkor Wat Temple, it was time for lunch. After lunch, we went to what is probably one of my favourite temple, called Ta Prohm.
If you've read my blog post and kept up with my different adventures, you'd know that even though i'm a city girl, I LOVE nature sights while traveling. These tall beautiful trees surrounding the Ta Prohm temple made this little temple my favourite one among all the temples i've visited.
You see that little green shrub? That was located at the roof of a temple structure, and from that little shrub, an insanely tall tree will grow. One with roots that will creep along side the temple walls all the way to the ground.
Wanna know how Alice in Wonderland felt after taking the shrinking potion? Visit this temple!
Compare us and the trees or the temple structure. The roots of the tree itself is probably 3 or 4 times my height. I mean, I'm short, but my dad is about 5'7 (170++ cm) and he too looks tiny beside those tree roots!
The last famous temple of the day was Bayon Temple, the temple where Angelina Jolie filmed Tomb Raider when Cambodia first opened its doors to visitors several years back.
From the pictures in this post, you can tell that these 3 famous temples are all very different.
Bayon temple, unlike the other 2 temples, had HUGE buddha heads as part of its structure.
The top of the temple were filled with 4 faced buddha structures made out of individual stones pieced together. How impressive is that!
*Note: Don't get scammed by the people who offer to take photographs of you in this temple, because they'd make you give them a tip after doing so. I saw it happen to someone else.
At the bottom of the Bayon Temple, you'll see window like structures and beautiful carvings on the walls of these "windows".
Some people were sitting and stepping all over them just to take photographs, but I over heard another guide saying in mandarin how that is really disrespectful, and it actually destroys the carvings on the wall, especially since our hands have sweat and all sorts of the minerals that will degrade these stones and rocks.
After visiting these 3 temples, our driver asked if we wanted to see the sunset. So being a sunset lover, I said yes immediately, and we headed for the famous Phnom Bakeng, but not before passing by some animals and the filming session of a local TV show - which I'm convinced I saw an episode on TV later that night at the hotel!
There were elephants and cameras, and some animal trainers too. They even smoked the area to prevent mosquitos from attacking the cast members.
Eventually, we headed up Phnom Bakeng, and got to catch the sunset. Well, technically we didn't because this time of the year is when the days are crazy hot and the nights get really cloudy. The opposite is probably true for the rainy season. During the rainy season, visitors will then get to see the sunset on Tonle Sap River - a place we skipped because rivers dry up during the summer.
Regardless, both my dad and I were glad that we chose to go to Siem Reap, Cambodia in May. Despite the really hot weather (VERY VERY HOT), we did not have to deal with massive tourist crowds, and for me, that makes traveling at a less ideal season worth it!
I'd highly advice people to visit in May, or maybe march or April when the crowds are dying down but the weather isn't too hot!