Siem Reap and Angor Wat
We arrived and got dropped off at the bus station in Siem Reap; which it appeared was on the outskirts of the actual city of Siem Reap. While unloading, we were approached by several people offering to take us into the city of Siem Reap in their ‘extended tuk-tuks”; and would arrange for us to visit Angor Wat and show us around the area. After some negotiating, we picked a nice young man who spoke decent English to be our driver/guide. He took us to our small boutique hotel in Siem Reap, the Villa Medamrei.
Nice small & comfortable hotel, less than $30 per room per night including breakfast. The city has literally hundreds of very nice and grand hotels, built for the tourist trade. Accompanying these hotels were lots of markets (day, night) selling clothing, jewelry, and knock off brand name products etc. Massage parlors (not the seedy kind for those men with their minds in the gutters) were abundant also. Fully body massages or Foot massages were $4 per hour. Needless, we had massages daily. (In Bangkok, we paid $8-10 for an hour of massage). The massages were actually very good. Highly recommended.
Cambodian food includes pancakes (with pineapples inside), eggs, for breakfast; and Amok, Green Curry, Loklok and Papaya salad for meals. We found the Cambodian food to not be as tasty as Thai food (not as spicy). However, the Papaya salad and the Amok curries (cooked with fish; served inside a coconut shell) were actually quite good.
Seafood and Coconuts were abundant. Food was relatively inexpensive costing about $3 per dish. So 2 people could eat, with beer, for less than $10. Fresh fruit was abundant and available everywhere. The market (Old market) we found was excellent, with vegetables, fruits, fish, and seafood/meats stalls surrounded by clothing and jewelry stores. Everything in one place.
Angkor Wat is about 6kms north of the city of Siem Reap, and the general area of Angkor Thom is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Angkor Thom used to be the old capital of Cambodia. The ruins of Angkor Wat and the surrounding temples (Bayon Baphuon, Phimeanakas etc) are all temples made for Hindu gods (Vishnu, Shiva) worship originally, though some were specifically built for Buddhism worship.
Most of the Hindu temples got converted to Buddhist temples later on. The temples were all built by the Khmer kings from 9th to 12th century AD (the people of Cambodia are called the Khmer, and speak the Khmer language). The temples were all built on large land areas, where temples, houses and other facilities coincided. Only the temples were built with stones and hence have survived till today. All housing etc (including the kings palaces) were built of wood, and so are all lost.
So after breakfast the next day, we drove off to Angor Wat. The temple complex’s are huge, especially Angkor Wat. All built of lava rock and sandstone, but magnificient structures. Lot of walking and climbing stairs. See pics.
Guarding the entrance to Angor Wat
Hats on; the tour starts
More Angor Wat, then traveling to Phnom Penh next.