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Traveling

Exploring Angkor Wat Oct 5, 2014

Exploring Angkor Wat

GPS waypoint: 13°24'44.9"N 103°52'01.1"E
Location: Angkor Wat Temple, Siem Reap, Cambodia

Powerful Picture
When I saw a compelling picture showing a massive tree engulfing a temple that has been lost through time, I was spellbound. Imagine! The seat of the powerful Khmer Empire lost to humanity and taken over by the jungle until its recent discovery. You can't be more Indiana Jones than that! I had to see it for myself.

Raining Cats and Dogs
It was my last full day in Cambodia before my visa expires, my last chance to see Angkor Wat and Ta Prohm...and it was raining cats and dogs. It would have been easier if I chartered a tuk-tuk ($15 short tour), but with the $20 I already paid for the temple admission fee, I had to tighten up. I rented a bicycle instead for $1 and decided I'll make a self-tour - even if it means forging through the driving rain.

Angkor Wat
As luck would have it, the rain didn't last long. I got to Angkor Wat in no time. The first thing that caught my attention was its massive scale. This temple system is huge. Even when I climbed up the upper levels, the expanse it covered was vast. It's hard to imagine that an ancient culture built this massive and intricate stone structure with no modern day technology.

Ta Prohm
This is the temple I really wanted to see. It is massive, but not as massive as Angkor Wat, but this is the temple system known for the trees that gripped its walls and facade with its root system like octopus tentacles wrapping itself around a fish. I was mesmerized at the sheer sight of these trees taking ownership of what once the capital of a great empire. Ta Prohm is also one that is mostly in ruins. Conservation efforts have been underway to restore the temple, structure by structure. An Easter Egg in this complex is to find the hidden Buddha. Not too many people are even aware it exists. It's actually a sculpted face of the Buddha on a wall that's been taken over by tree roots. The roots branched out into a fork revealing the hidden Buddha face.

Other Temple Complex
Angkor Wat is only one of several temple systems within the cluster. There are a good number of these temples and temple complexes. The map I had is intuitive enough to navigate a bike route as a loop to cover most of them - Prasat Kravan, Thommanon, Chau Say Tevoda Temple, Prasat Bayon, etc. If not for Angkor Wat (casting a shadow on all the other temples), all of them would stand out as stand-alone structures for their magnificence.

Ending Thoughts
Seeing Ta Prohm is one bucket list entry I can finally check-off. Totally Amazing!

Next stop: Bangkok

--- TheLoneRider

rain or shine, I wasn't going to miss my last chance to see Angkor Wat the rain just stopped but rain didn't stop these people couldn't help it...handstand on one of the world's most iconic landmark - Angkor Wat the Khmer Empire's history is carved in pictographs
long passageways with intricately carved walls and ceilings the Khmers know how to appreciate their women wide open grounds with massive structures Angkor Wat was practically a city unto itself
palatial walls imposing presence view from the tower another view from the tower
Khmer style architecture there is usually a Buddha in the inner chamber the three towers wild monkeys are on the premises...usually the mothers with their young
juice from coconut palm...it was sweet...sweeter than coconut juice Buddhist monks in Angkor Wat not sure but this could be Sras Srang, another temple apart from Angkor Wat across Sras Srang is another temple, Banteay Kdei
the gridded Buddha inside Ta Prohm a first look at the root system and its iron grip on the temple the massive walls collapse from the sheer weight of these trees
Ta Prohm is in bad shape this is where the picture was taken...that compelling picture that made me come to Ta Prohm amazed and mesmerized the roots branch out in search of water and nutrients
the once mighty seat of an empire I'll never get this chance again...handstand til my ears fall off it's hard to imagine Ta Prohm without  the trees do you see the hidden Buddha? most people don't even know this
zooming in...now, do you see the Buddha? I am dwarfed by these giant roots Ta Prohm's temple complex is massive it would seem like the temple and the trees are one...two sides of one coin, inseparable
I had to squeeze my face there to be a part of that wonder more structures on every bend gateway to another structure it looks like this tree started from the top of the temple with its roots finding a water source further down
sometimes the tree is so fused with the temple, it's hard to place where one ends and the other begins more temple structures...I don't think I've seen all of Ta Prohm by the entrance of Banteay Kdei vendors selling Buddha wall decor
paintings for sale victims of mine blasts turn to music to support themselves a collage of paintings one last hurrah
muted and staunch I remember climbing up the steep stone stairs...but  can't figure out what temple...maybe Thommanom probably the Chau Say Thevoda temple  

Siem Reap Cost Index (US$1 = Riel 4049 = Php 46.47 as of Mar 26, 2016)

  1. $2.00 haircut (they'll price you at $3 but local price is only $2)
  2. $0.50 one mug draft beer
  3. $0.50 1.5 liter drinking water
  4. $4.00 one hour massage
  5. $2.00 muesli breakfast
  6. $0.50-1.50 coffee
  7. $2.00 pad thai
  8. $1.00 bicycle rental, 24 hours
  9. $0.25 sugar cane juice in a plastic cup
  10. $0.50 fresh coconut
  11. $5.00/day single fan rooms
  12. $4.00/day dorm lodging at Garden Village Guesthouse
  13. $18.00 starting price for Phare circus
  14. $1.00/kilo laundry
  15. $1.00 regular tuk-tuk ride around town
  16. $15.00 tuk-tuk ride for a short tour of Angkor Wat
  17. $20.00 Angkor Wat admission fee
  18. $8.00 1-hour drop-in yoga session
  19. $5.00 Alibaba pants (asking price is usually $8 but they'll go down to $5)

Siem Reap FYI / Tips

  • you can do a self-tour and save the $15 short tour tuk-tuk fee by renting a bicycle for $1/day. But it's a 30km loop. Make sure you are fit and make sure you have a map.
  • you can split the cost of the $15 tuk-tuk tour (short tour) with other hotel guests. If you are 3, it's only $5 per head
  • one day temple admission fee is $20, for 3 days, it's $40. It's best to secure this a day ahead if you want to go early to catch the sunrise
  • temples are open from 5:30am to 5:30pm
  • currency conversion: $1 = P44 = Cambodian riel R4,000
  • no need to convert your dollars into riel. All establishments in Cambodia accepts US dollars

How to Get to Siem Reap Proper from the airport

  1. take a tu-tuk at the airport $5/trip (you can split the cost with other passengers from your plane), 10 min
  2. to get to Angkor Wat, you can just flag down a tuk-tuk from Siem Reap. If you want to do it by bike, take the Charles de Gaule road and keep heading north. You'll hit Angkor Wat after 6 kms.

Cambodia Blogs by TheLoneRider




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Oct 5, 2014

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