It was still dark, the Tuk-tuk was waiting outside the guesthouse for a sunrise tour to Cambodia’s treasure, the Angkor Wat. We arranged our tour just a night before in the guesthouse. Every hostels/guesthouses and hotels are arranging the same type of tours. For 1 day, 2 or 3 days tour.The Angkor complex is an archaeological site located 8kms /4.5miles and will take 20-25minutes by Tuk-tuk from Siem Reap centre. The complex consist of the famous Angkor Wat, Bayon Temple and Ta Prohm Temple.Surrounding the complex are very tall trees with huge roots some cafes, houses, galleries and ticket booths There are more than 45 temples around and if you plan on visiting each, it will take you 1 week as the temples are situated a bit far from each other.
Entry is 20$ for 1 day and they will give you a day pass with your photo on it. The sunrise tour leaves at 5:30am and the first stop is the Angkor Wat.
There are a lot of travelers, waiting for the sunrise. This is the highlight of the tour, to capture the sunrise with Angkor Wat’s silhouette effect. It’s also nice to take with the reflection on the pond surrounding the Angkor Wat but did not get the chance to do it.
Angkor Wat is the largest temple in the complex and considered to be the largest religious monument in the world. The meaning of the word “Wat” in Khmer (Cambodian) is temple. This temple was built by Khmer King Suyavarma and it is dedicated to Hindu God Vishnu since the first religion of Cambodia was Hinduism. Later on this temple was changed to Buddhist temple which they practice up to this day. This temple is massive and some parts are under repair when we visited.
Our next stop is the complex of Angkor Thom which consist of more than 11 temples. You can find in Angkor Thom these temples: Bayon temple, Prasat Top east, Prasat Suor Prat, Preah Pitu, Prasat Topwest, Terrace of the Elephants, Phimeanakas,Terrace of the Lepper King, Royal enclosure, Tep Pranam and Preah Palilay. Although you will not know the exact name of the temple until you check your map and the image of the temple on it.
Bayon Temple known as the “Great City” and the last temple that was built dedicated to Buddha. This temple has a lot of intricate designs of Hindu Gods and famously known as of today as the Temple of Many Faces. There are more than 200 faces carved on the stone. The temple has an upper and lower area. I admire Angkor Wat but I like the Bayon Temple more. Why I like Bayon Temple? because of the different giant faces that looks like a puzzle.
You can ask your Tuk-Tuk to stop on small temples or to stay longer in a certain temples.
After Bayon Temple, our Tuk-Tuk took us to Phimeanakas Temple and Baphuon Temple. Both temples were closed for renovation, we were a bit disappointed.
Then our Tuk-tuk driver asked us if we have seen the movie Tom Raider of Angelina Jolie, and I said “Yes”, then he told us that the temple is called Ta Prohm.
Ta Prohm is very different because of its tall trees with huge roots that grows around the ruins makes Ta Prohm a very old and jungle-like place to take pictures. These huge trees in Khmer the name is “Spung”, and in English it is known as “Tetrameles”. There is an agreement between India and Cambodia for the restoration and conservation of Ta Prohm.
It was past noon time, we had our lunch from some of the food stalls on nearby temples. The cost of the food, is very cheap. Khmer dishes are sometimes spicy, turmeric, curry powder, lemongrass, ginger and chili. Like us, they love to eat rice dishes as well.
There many small and ruined temples around. You can stop and take pictures if you like. Some are under renovation, so no choice but just to take pictures. East Mabon Temple was under renovation. The Thommanom Temple is in good shape. This is a single- towered temple with one doorway and in front with 4 big windows.Same like the others it is a Hindu temple dedicated to God Shiva.
The last part of our trip, a visit to Banteay Kdei. This temple is near to Ta Prohm and really fall into ruins.
Banteay Kdei was a village for royal chaplain, thus it is called as the ” “Citadel of Chambers”. You will not be able to recognized it now as a village. Sprung trees outgrown the area and the temple itself. What left with some temples are just fallen blocks of stone around.
I hope some charities and organization will restore this vast complex. It would be nice to see it completely standing and be able to relive the past- The Kingdom of Cambodia.