As mentioned in the introduction to this three-part “Ketchup Series”, I’m taking you back a little to fill in the blanks since our last post about Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
From Phnom Penh we hopped on an afternoon mini bus to Siem Reap, the city where the ancient temples of Angkor are found. The drive was around 5 hours or so and I have to say that I was fairly proud of how far I’ve come in terms of accepting the way local transport works in Southeast Asia. As we swerved around cattle, motorbikes and school children, I sat and played Scrabble with Skotty while I giggled at the Australian guys behind us nearly crapping their pants as they commented on every tight spot our van squeezed itself through.
This mini bus trip was the most beautiful drive we’ve had during our 9 months on the road. As we drove through we watched the sun set behind the small Cambodian villages with their stilt wooden houses and water buffalo roaming around in the fields nearby. It was truly breathtaking and so very peaceful.
Once we arrived in Siem Reap we got ourselves organized and decided that we would rent bicycles to take in the sites of Angkor Wat. Cambodia was VERY hot so we had some pretty sweaty bike rides during the three days that we toured through the Angkor Archeological Park, but I would say that this is by far the best way to take in the Park. The roads are nice and wide with very little traffic and it’s fun to use the same mode of transportation as the local people in Cambodia.
The term “Angkor Wat” is a little deceiving because the grounds of the Angkor Archeological Park actually contains the remains of several Wats and other structures from the different capitals of the Khmer Empire. They were built between the 9th to the 15th centuries. The Angkor Wat (Wat means Temple) is the most famous & significant and it is also the largest and most complex of the structures within the park. We had a chance to see this temple during the day and also went back to watch the sunrise behind it on our last day.
Throughout our three days in the Park, in addition to Angkor Wat, we also visited Angkor Thom and Prasat Ta Prohm, also known as the Jungle Temple.
Angkor Thom is famous for the massive stone figures that adorn it. In fact, there are a total of 108 mythical beings placed throughout this temple.
Prasat Ta Prohm is very beautiful and quite unique because its one of the only temples that has been left for nature to simply take its course. It makes for a very interesting photo op as you see massive roots overtaking the stone temple. This was also the setting for the film Tomb Raider.
We were really happy that we took 3 days to explore the Angkor Archeological Park. It was nice to take our time as we toured through the temples. If you plan to go, we highly recommend renting a bike-you can get one for just $2 a day. A three day pass into the park is the same price as two days, so for just $40 you can have the freedom to go at your own pace as you take in these magnificent ruins.