It’s crazy how far a one hour plane ride can get you. We left Bangkok, not in the healthiest of mental states, and arrived in the unassuming town of Siem Reap. Instantaneously, there seemed to be a change of pace. Smiles and warm welcomes permeated the air! What a relief!
The small town of Siem Reap began to become our refuge for sleeping, eating, and recuperating for the next half of our trip (can you believe its already been 3.5 months)! The town was filled with all sorts of new cuisine, even with a delicious Mexican restaurant and crocodile BBQ. What more could cure a small hiccup in traveling than burritos, chimichangas, cheesy nachos, happy pizza, margaritas and cheap beer! It was interesting being in a place where beer was actually cheaper than water!
We spent the next 4 days sleeping in late and browsing the large night markets filled with creative trinkets. After feeling quite lazy due to excessive amounts of sleeping and eating, we decided we were finally ready to see some of the world class sights near this small town. We rented bicycles and ventured out into the Angkor Wat complex.
What a sight to behold in person! If you don’t know what Angkor Wat is, it happens to be the seventh wonder of the world and also one of the largest open air museums, but for all you Lara Croft fans it was the setting for the Tomb Raider movie. Built in the height of the Khmer Empire, Angkor Wat was a tribute to the Hindu gods and a burial site for the Khmer king and was constructed in only 30 years. It has some of the most intricate carvings and technical architecture known in all of Asia, and is floating on an island with a huge man-made moat. The moat ensures a stable water table, because the surrounding area is greatly affected by the wet and dry seasons. Without the moat, the sheer weight of the temple would cause the ground to shift during the change of seasons and the temple would collapse. Just to give a sense of scale the moat is approximately 650 feet wide, 13 feet deep, and encompasses a perimeter of more than 3 miles. That’s some serious human POWER! Compared to all the surrounding temples, it's the boss!
Our adventures began by riding our bikes 5 miles to the temple complex. We explored temples of all shapes and sizes, joining the hordes of people within the Ankor Wat temple itself and then venturing off to further areas. After an additional 15 miles we were pooped and really templed out! Eight hours of biking and sight seeing (whew thats a lot), not to mention our bikes were single speed cruisers from 1965! Besides the Angkor Wat temple, there were two others that really stood out: Ta Prohm temple with its massive trees growing right out the tops of crumbling ruins and Bayon temple with its many faces protruding from the smooth stone towers. But enough talk! You can decide for yourself…
We were so lucky to see such an amazing piece of human history! From Siem Reap we took a bus to Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia, to spend a few days in the hustle bustle of the city. We took some walks around the chaotic streets and saw the palace of King Sihanouk. Hilariously, our room in our guesthouse shared a wall with a dirty nightclub and we spent the nights listening to the same Rihanna song over and over again. So after a few days in this busy city, we were ready to head to the coast.
Hasta La Vista Baby!