A weekend in Cambodia? Don’t mind if I do!
For those of you that don’t know, I was in southern Cambodia in 2015 for a volunteer program. I flew into Phnom Penh, bussed to Sihanoukville then took a boat to Koh Rong. I spent 2 weeks on Koh Rong island getting my second scuba diving certification, doing a marine conservation project and building a roof for a water catchment for the village.
This time, I went to Siem Reap with two of my favourite people… My mama & dad.
It has been a dream of mine to see Angkor Wat with my own eyes. Ta Prohm in particular…
This trip was strictly for Angkor Wat… Honestly. We flew from Bangkok to Siem Reap on a Saturday. Easy peasy lemon squeezy! About an hour long flight!
We then checked into our beautiful boutique hotel in downtown Siem Reap. We were around the corner from Pub Street and just across the river from the night-market. We were also right in the centre of a whole bunch of restaurants! Everything was basically within a 5-10 minute walk, or less.
Tuk-tuk’s everywhere too. I’ve found the tuk-tuk drivers in Cambodia are a bit more aggressive than Thailand tuk-tuk drivers. I think this is mostly due to the large number of drivers in Cambodia vs. Thailand, therefore it’s more competitive. They’re all so sweet though, and very hard working.
Any who! Shortly after we got there on Saturday we went to Khmer Kitchen for lunch where I had the yummiest Khmer curry. I don’t know what makes it different from other curries, but man! So good.
We strolled around town for a little bit, went to the pool at our little hotel and then we set off to Pub Street for supper!
Sunday was the day of Angkor Wat. *heart eyes*
Mom had booked a private tour guide for the 3 of us. Best decision ever. I’d be happy to pass along his information to anyone planning to go to Angkor Wat! It’s seriously inexpensive.
I’d just like to say that we learned a lot about the Cambodian people on this trip. Cambodia has a very sad and horrific history, but some of the kindest people. I know I say that a lot. But our guide, Sopheap, informed us that the English speaking guides are the lowest paid. He has 4 children but can afford to send only one to school. His father and his sister were both victims of the Khmer Rouge. A communist regime that created genocide within Cambodian boarders and killed millions. They took control of Cambodia in 1975 (quite recently) and turned the entire country into a detention centre, which would later turn into mass graves.
Rather than get into all that… I will choose to focus on the positive things that I learned and saw with my very own two eyes!
As I was saying before, it’s definitely worth it to book a private tour. Our guide took us down little paths where there was less people, while he told us some history about the temples. A lot of it I honestly didn’t hear because I was spending too much time with my cameras. Yep… Plural.
First, we went to the Bayon complex of temples. AKA, the smiling face.
Our guide was also really good about pointing out photo opportunities. I have always been obsessed with taking photos, so I really appreciate this in a guide. It makes my trip more memorable and I know that I’ll be able to enjoy the pictures for a long time. It makes me feel better to have good photos of where I’ve been because I have a horrible memory and I’d like to make sure I remember all the beautiful places I’ve seen.
There were various other temples that we visited that were near Bayon. My dad and I decided to brave the wildly steep stairs and climb to the top of one of them.
Next, we visited Ta Prohm… FINALLY.
Sopheap told us this is the complex that is in the worst shape. There is an alliance with the Cambodian and Indian government to restore this temple. Which unfortunately means that they’ll be cutting some trees. I understand why they want/need to do that in order to restore the temple, but it’s a bit sad that they’ll be removing the nature from the area which I think is why it’s so famous.
The area was quite crowded so it as a bit hard to enjoy… But I snapped a few photos which I’m proud of and our guide took a cool one of me. I know I just said it was crowded in there, but this is the one spot that people stood back and formed a queue so that everyone could snap a picture.
*I changed these photos to B&W because the sun was a little bright and complicated the photos a bit. I think this way it’s a bit easier to see the contrast between the darkness of the temple and lighter colour of the tree itself.
After lunch, it was time for the main event!
I really can’t begin to describe the magnificent architecture, detail and sheer beauty of this structure. So instead of even attempting to explain how incredible it was, I’ll just share a bunch of my photos with you. Sadly, these don’t quite do it justice either.
Well my dream of visiting this most amazing UNESCO World Heritage Site or Angkor Wat in Siem Reap, Cambodia, came true! And I got to share it with the two people I owe everything too. I feel so extremely blessed to have their constant support. Without them, I wouldn’t have made it to Cambodia the first time, made that move to the Philippines… survived my time in the Philippines and so many more milestones of my life.
I love you both, thanks for putting up with me. We had so much fun together, as usual!