After a two-hour flight delay ( Vietnam Airlines), we finally landed in Siem Reap at almost 10pm. Out of the three places we planned to visit, this one is where I am most excited about. As we know, this is home of the famous UNESCO Heritage site – the Angkor Archaeological Park.
Our hostel sent 2 tuk-tuks as a free pick up from the airport. The drivers are really nice Khmers (whom we both call “Kuya” – which means a big brother in Filipino), and one of them also lives/works in the hostel we are staying at. They also became our official drivers/semi-tour guides for the next 3 days in Siem Reap.
For our first day in REP, we went to Angkor National Museum. I’m glad we did. Because although, I’ve read about the history of the ancient complex, the artifacts and museum pieces, audio-visual presentations about the Angkor, has helped me appreciate it more when I came face to face with it the next day.
After our late lunch in some Khmer restaurant, we were taken to some gem stores that sells expensive pieces of jewelry. We didn’t buy though.
We then bought our one-day Angkor pass to be used for the next day as there is a long queue if we get it in the morning, plus we can already use it that day to access one of the temples to see the sunset. Unfortunately however, we arrived late for the sunset. We still took some photos anyway.
Later on, we were dropped by our tuktuk drivers in the famous Pub Street and Night Market for our dinner and ‘bae-watching’, oppss I mean shopping. Hahaha
Since our very short trip in REP coincides with the 3-day Cambodian Water Festival, there was a street party by the river that night.
We got up early the next day to catch the sunrise in Angkor Wat, but not so early enough for me to get a good spot to take pictures of the sun rising above the temple. But after some tries, I finally had a picture that I wanted.
Then off we explore the temple, leaving most of the crowds by the moat who still want to capture the sunrise.
And what a sight! As a person who digs history and ancient architecture, I was in awe of this place. Surreal! I took photos, a lot of them until one of my camera batteries went flat. And just when I thought I had an extra, I realized I forgot to take it out from the socket in the hostel. Dang! Good thing, after the sunrise tour and some discussions, we all decided to go back to the hostel for breakfast. Of course our tuktuk drivers asked for additional charge (just a few dollars), which is fine, given the hassle of going back to the city and back to the temples again.
We then spent the whole day doing the ‘temple run’ in the ancient site. It was an awesome experience! Seeing these temples and literally coming ‘face to face’ with the huge stones faces of Bayon, and climbing up and down on the steep staircases of Baphuon, and admiring how nature took over Ta Prohm, I was blown away!
After doing the ‘small circuit’ tour in this massive temple complex, we headed back to the hostel for some needed shower and to hang out with our fellow guests.
We got up early again the next day for our 8am bus ride to Bangkok.
-to be continued-