Going around the temples in Siem Reap gave me a mix of emotions – I was tired, thirsty, hungry, but I can’t stop because I was so happy. I was also very sad because places like the Angkor Wat makes you realise that you have no talent whatsoever, or that you know, nothing I will ever do could amount to anything close to those temples. I just have to live with that knowledge, I guess.
Here’s the thing – right after we settled in our hostel, the owner came up to us and helped us decide on how we’re going to do the whole temple thing. They will provide us with the tuktuk for a small fee for 3 days. If that’s not hospitality, I don’t know what is. We gave her our preferred schedule, and on the day itself, our driver Roth was there at 4:45 AM, waiting.
Yes, you read that right. I, Luisa Reyes, woke up at 4 AM to see the sunrise. But folks, it’s not just any sunrise – it’s the only sunrise worth seeing.
Now, before you get there, you need to buy your Temple pass. You can choose between a 1,2, 3 or 1 week pass. We bought the 3 days, which cost us $40. Also, they will take a picture of you. We did not know this, we looked like fools.
I’m sorry, that personalised touch is just, I don’t know, wow. It’s like, you will remember this temple tour for the rest of your life, so here, for more proof, we put your picture on the pass. Thanks for the thoughtfulness, Siem Reap!
Our driver dropped us off at the entrance to the Angkor Wat, and while we were walking towards god knows what, (we literally did not know, it was so fucking dark out, I am already blind as fuck and afraid of the dark, I had no idea, we just kept going straight) some vendors approached us and gave us tips (they will say the same thing) on where to get the best picture. They will then ask you to have breakfast at their stall and give you a famous name so you can remember them (Rambo, Lady Gaga, Jack Sparrow, Tiger Woods). Rambo was the first to approach us, I think, so Lau said we should go to his stall.
Now, we were there from around 5:20 am. It was really hard to get a decent place because the open area’s littered with tourists that have better cameras and fancy equipment. We kept hearing that the sunrise would probably be at around 6:20, so I was like, okay, before that time, I will fucking find a perfect spot or so help me god.
We took our time there, because really, why wouldn’t you? Also, we only went there for the sunrise – the tour of the Angkor Wat itself was on the second day.
After this, we went to Prea Kahn (??). It was probably the biggest temple, since it took us a long time to explore it. Now when I say explore, I mean EXPLORE. We went through almost every nook and cranny of the place. Even when they say don’t enter, I still do, because sometimes those are the places really worth seeing. I know, I know. Why am I not dead yet. IDK either.
After this, we went to.. oh god, I forgot. I’m sorry, but all I can say is that this is the submerged temple. It’s very beautiful though, it’s just sad that we couldn’t go around because it’s not really open to the public.
We went to Ta Sohm, where we started our little “tambay sessions”. It was all Lau’s idea, but really, we were all waiting to do the same. It was very hot, okay? Cut us some slack.
We then went to East Mebon. The next two temples are very Incan in architecture, which makes me wonder a lot. I think they were made for the Sun God? We had no tour guide this day, no one’s there to tell us anything. I’m just guessing because of the architecture and how some idols were placed. A lot of ancient cultures praise the Sun God, and no matter how far apart these civilisations are, they share similarities in how they give praise to certain idols. (where did this burst of knowledge come from idk also I may be VERY wrong)
In one of the temples ^, the stairs were so steep that I acquired a situational fear of heights. But you know what, I won’t be there forever, so I went up. I don’t know how I’m still alive today, but I made it. I have never been prouder of myself~~~
Lau talked about this in her blog, go pay hers a visit, yeah?
Anyway, we then went to Bantaey Srei because it is the temple made specifically for women. But before that, we went to the Land mine museum, which was a great (not happy great hah) experience because we were lucky enough to catch one of the guys who are involved in keeping Cambodia a safe country. We were able to hear first hand what happened and the efforts they are doing to keep the project afloat. It was a very humbling experience.
Bantaey Srei is very far from the rest of the temples (and the city proper) but it was worth it. We were there for less than 30 minutes, and we even had no idea how to take pictures because it’s a very small complex. Luckily, Yew and I were near a couple who hired a tour guide, so we were listening in. He told them the perfect place to take a pic, and voila!
It took us an hour and a half to go back to our hostel, so I can assure you that we were dead tired. The ride back in the tuktuk was the best though. You can see everything, there’s wind in your hair, and it feels like you’re being lulled to sleep by the swaying of the tuktuk (it’s very safe I swear). Also, our driver brought some water for us, free of charge. He is an incredibly nice guy too.
Going back through the Angkor Wat compound was amazing though. There were a lot of trees, so if you go past it fast, it becomes very cold. Also, monkeys!!
This is probably my favorite day because of all the exploring we did. Having no tour guide gives you so much freedom, and doing it all in your own time is the best. I hate being hassled I don’t know how the other people (those with tour groups) are able to enjoy the temples. They just don’t get the time to SEE everything.
Obviously I am telling you to NOT go with a group tour(you know, buses and such). Explore on your own or with friends. Do it all in your own time. What, you think these temples were built with a strict deadline? No way. They took so long to build because really, look at that. All the attention to detail. Still baffles me up to this day, really. Just, wow.
Will post about Days 2 and 3 probably tomorrow, but let us not kid ourselves. For some reason, I have a life lately. I promise I will post about them though 🙂