From Saigon, we decided to take our chances with the recommended Mekong Express luxury limousine bus that would take us over the border to Cambodia, making a brief stop in Phnom Pen before heading to Siem Reap where we would spend a few days.
The luxury ride turned out to be a miserable 14 hour hot drive to our destination. Our “luxury”bus was falling apart starting with the A/C, followed by the toilet , and the promised wifi never worked (which was the least of our concerns after the A/C broke and we were all sitting uncomfortably fanning ourselves with whatever we could from the scorching temperatures).
We finally made it to Siem Reap around 9:30pm and got into a tuk tuk that drove us to our hotel.
The next day, we rested, lounged by the pool, and researched how we wanted to “attack” Angkor Wat’s numerous temples. We finally decided to hire a guide for 3 days with a much needed air-conditioned car to get the most of our visit.
The temples of Angkor are considered the eighth wonder in the world and the pride for all Khmer people. We found all the temples we visited to be amazing, each one with its unique personality and beauty.
Above: Angkor Wat in the distance surrounded by the moatBelow: if there is a horse anywhere near, Sylvie will find it, and she did at Angkor Wat. She rode this beautiful horse for a few minutes for a photo opp.Some are nicely renovated such as the world’s largest religious building Angkor Wat itself, some overtaken by jungles like our favorite: Ta Prohm (where Tomb Raider with Angelina Jolie was filmed) and Beng Mealea. We also visited many other beautiful sites such as Banteay Srei, the jewel in the crown of Angkorian art and Angkor Thom, an immense complex home to the mysterious Bayon temple with its 216 carved faces of king Jayavarman VII.Above: We got up at 4:30am to try to catch a sunrise at Angkor Wat. Unfortunately, it never materialized and this is what we ended up with.Above: Ta Prohm Above: getting blessed at one of the temples Above: Posing in front of Banteay SreiAbove: kids playing around the temples.
Below: Cow in the middle of the snack/restaurant area…for the next fresh burger?? Below: beautiful cambodian girl trying to get mangoes from a treeBelow: Four pictures of the Bayon It was definitely helpful to have our guide, Ratanak, whom in perfect English led us through the history, meaning of each site, and stories revealed by the numerous carvings. He also knew when to stop at each temple for the least crowds and where the good lunch spots were.
Above and below: with our guide, Ratanak Above: one of the many apsarasAbove: one of our favorite Cambodian dish: chicken amok (coconut curry chicken)Above: not sure the name of the bird, but we found it photogenic with its 2-feathers long tail
Below: a cute postcard vendor On the way to Beng Mealea and other remote temples, we traversed through interesting rural areas and got to see how palm sugar was made by locals on the side of the road.