WELCOME TO CAMBODIA… Part 2

Angkor Wat and Ta Prohm Temples… Day 1

First one thing I neglected to state on my last post is that everything is done in US Dollars and they can easily be obtained at any ATM.

There are many places and cities to see in Cambodia. The reason I traveled to Cambodia and specifically Siem Reap was to visit and photograph Angkor Wat and the surrounding temples.

I had always heard of the Angkor Wat Temple and it had always been a “Bucket List” item for me to visit to photograph. Learning there were actually numerous temples was just a bonus.

The Angkor Wat Temples are located in Cambodia. They are one of Southeast Asia’s most important archaeological sites and protected by the UNESCO World Heritage Center.

There are numerous books and websites explaining in detail the history of Angkor Wat. I am only going to touch on its beginning briefly.

The Angkor Wat complex is the largest religious monument in the world. It was designed and constructed in the first half to the 12th century and dedicated to the Hindu God Vishnu. In the late 12thcentury Angkor Wat transformed from a Hindu cultural center to one of Buddhism and it remains so to the present day.

Visiting Angkor Wat depends on where you are staying in Siem Reap. From most hotels it is a 30 minute ride by tuk tuk maybe more. From Theray’s it was 30 minutes and $10 round trip.

There are several itineraries ranging from approximately $20 for the “Small Circuit” to close to $30 for the “Large Circuit”. I believe the prices to be fair and depending on which you take it will either be a half day to full day.

Your first day you will need to decide how many times you want to visit the temples. The first stop along the way is the government Angkor Wat ticket office. For one day the cost is $37, 3 days is $62 which must be done in a one week period. Being in Seam Reap for 10 days I opted for the 7 day pass which was $72 and could be used over a one month period.

Day One I wanted to see and photograph the sunset at Angkor Wat. Leaving my hotel around 11am gave me plenty of time to explore not only the Angkor Wat temple but Ta Prohm.

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Angkor Wat front view in the afternoon

The first stop was the Angkor Wat Temple. To reach the temple you cross a pontoon footbridge that crosses a moat. I spent the majority of time walking around the outside of the temple. I found this to have best photographic opportunities.

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Angkor Wat early morning north side
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Angkor Wat early morning south side

One warning do not leave your purse, backpacks or food on the ground. They will immediately become the property of one of the numerous monkeys.

Do not leave them on the temple either as I saw monkeys climb the walls, grab the booty and scale the wall back to the ground. You will never get your items back so consider yourself forewarned.

I did enter the inner temple but personally was not as impressed. Others may have a different opinion, I can only offer mine.

After visiting Angkor Wat, I ate lunch at one of the many small restaurants that are adjacent to the temple located near the parking lot. I found the food to be very good and reasonably priced.

I then took a 20 minute walk, you may take a tuk tuk to a Hot Air Balloon Ride. The balloon is tethered and rises for 400-600 feet above the ground depending on weather conditions. I found it to be well worth the $15 to see the temple and surrounding area from this vantage point.

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Angkor Wat from the balloon

After the balloon I took a $5 tuk tuk ride to the Ta Prohm Temple. It is best known as the temple where Laura Croft Tomb Raider was filmed.

One of my favorite photographs is of a large tree in the middle of temple surrounded by the ruins.

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Large tree in the middle of the Ta Prohm Temple

Occasionally you may be joined by a Buddhist Monk that is also enjoying the temple. You should always ask a Monk permission to take his photograph first and never touch a Monk unless they take your hand and bless you. This has happened to me a couple of times. After this photograph the Monk asked me to email the photograph to him which I was more then happy to do.

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Monk in the Ta Prohm Temple

It was an amazing temple and the grounds are quite large with many passage ways, engraved rock walls and ruins to explore.

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Interior of the Ta Prohm Temple
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Interior of the Ta Prohm Temple
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Interior of the Ta Prohm Temple

It may take you less time however I spent about two hours exploring the temple and taking photographs.

By the time I finished exploring Ta Prohm it was getting close to sunset. I headed back to the Angkor Wat Temple for my final photographs of the day.

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Angkor Wat front view at sunset
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Angkor Wat sunset south side
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Angkor Wat sunset southwest corner

On the way back to the hotel I had my tuk tuk driver take me to Pub Street for dinner. By doing so I saved the additional time and money as it was on the way back.

WELCOME TO CAMBODIA… Part 1

Welcome to Siem Reap

My next stop was to take care of one of my “Bucket List” items, to go to Angkor Wat. There is no lodging in Angkor Wat itself so you will stay in the nearby city of Siem Reap.

Arriving from Bangkok I was happy that I had done the research and followed the advice of others and got my Cambodia Visa online. It was a very simple process and will save you a lot of time at Customs and Immigration.

Once out of the airport I took a taxi to my lodging at Theray’s Luxury Villa on the outskirts of Siem Reap. I do my best not to stay in the towns themselves preferring to be close but away from the “tourist zone” as I enjoy peace and quiet.

Theray’s is a small boutique property with a half dozen rooms. The lobby is nice sized with a sitting area, dining table, a variety or books and guides for loan and a “honor” refrigerator with drinks. The rate when I was there in the high season was $34 per night.

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photo credit: Theary’s Luxury Villas

Outdoors there is a pool surrounded by several comfortable lounge chairs and a table and chairs that one could sit and work which is usually my case editing my photographs and writing my blog.

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photo credit: Theary’s Luxury Villas
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photo credit: Theary’s Luxury Villas

My room was on the second floor and nicely appointed. It had a patio that overlooked the pool and the shaded grounds along with a table and chair. There was also a large window on the opposite side of the room overlooking a rice field. It was air-conditioned with a couch, small refrigerator, large flat screen television and a couple tables. The bed might be the most comfortable bed I have ever slept in and the large bathroom had a rainfall shower with great pressure.

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photo credit: Theary’s Luxury Villas
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photo credit: Theary’s Luxury Villas

The staff was very friendly but spoke no English. Luckily the young couple managing could translate and were very helpful. They had a few tuk tuk drivers that were ready within a few minutes notice. This was important as the location is not near any restaurants though there is a convenience store within walking distance and a nice air-conditioned coffee shop but it serves no food.

I always try to be completely truthful in my blog so I feel I must say that my only regret with Theary’s was the food. Breakfast on the morning I tried was adequate and cost $3 for rice and eggs. I tried the dinner one evening of rice, vegetables and chicken for $6 but I only took a few bites, it just was not good so I decided to take a tuk tuk to Pub Street instead. The next morning I informed the manager that I was not comfortable with paying for dinner, which was not a problem. Please do not let this stop you from staying here, it truly is a great place.

To get to restaurants it is a $5 tuk tuk ride roundtrip to Pub Street and the Siem Reap Night Market. Unlike Bangkok there are very few street food vendors other than those selling ice cream, fruit shakes and drinks.

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Pub Street downtown Siem Reap

There are however many restaurants that covers a several block area. As I was in Siem Reap for ten days I tried many of them but ended eating most of my meals at V Design Restaurant. Do not be fooled by the sign stating there is Japanese food, there is everything from sushi to pizza to the Cambodian staples. I found the food well prepared, delicious and the prices were fair. The V Design Restaurant is located on the left corner of the above photograph.

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Pub Street downtown Siem Reap

Another favorite of mine the Yellow Mango Café which is located on the street paralleling the canal a couple blocks from central Pub Street. It is on the second floor and overlooks the canal and the Artist Night Market on the opposite bank. There is a large menu and I found the food to be fresh and properly prepared. The costs were approximately the same as V Design.

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Bridge over the canal to the Siem Reap Artist Night Market

There are many restaurants in the area and food ranges from Mexican to Cambodian and from burgers to steaks and crocodile. You can be assured that you will find something to your liking.

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Rice, Grilled Chicken, Soup, Fresh Spring Rolls and Ice Tea… $8

Most of my meals ranged from $6-$8 but could range higher depending on your selection. I typically ate fresh spring rolls, a selection from the variety of soups or curries offered and a beverage.

As a closing note I did not like Cambodia, or at least Siem Reap. It is a very dirty both in the city and in the surrounding areas with trash everywhere. I cannot speak for other places as I was only visited Siem Reap but other travelers told me of the same problem in the places they visited.

That is one of the many reasons I love Thailand, it is a very clean country. I have traveled to many regions and from small villages to towns to large cities. Everywhere I have gone it is very clean, almost pristine. You very seldom see any trash anywhere. It is as if the Thai people have a great respect for their homes, community and country. I like that.

PLEASE NOTE: Photographs were taken with a Panasonic /Lumix DMC-DS5 not my usual camera the Nikon D850… thus the difference in the usual quality but I wanted to give you something to see. Also I only use my photographs but was remiss on photographing Theary’s so I used their photographs with credit give. Credit given where credit is due…

thank you Larry