[Siem Reap] ~ Temple Hop and World Gone Shut on Day that’s Last

For it was both a day of rush and slow motion. –04.20.14


Siem Reap 2

It was a day when I was supposed to go visit what they say one should not miss when visiting Siem Reap – the Angkor Archaeological Park. It is solely for this reason that I decided to give this a go because having gone to temple grounds in some previous country visits, I realized that my heart belongs little to such compared to aimless wandering and ‘immersing’ myself in the mundane and ordinary. I was mainly prepared to tons of unwanted walking, water loss and crowd but had unexpected appreciation of this touristy attraction. A day I thought would be all-rush also ended with quite too much chill in the afternoon. Thanks to that happy (or since I already tried one the previous day, happier) pizza. Well, it was 420 Day after all.

I always say that my last day in every trip involves some kind of heartbreak as it most of time felt like breaking up with someone you had a hell-of-a-ride passionate short-lived affair with. Strangely for this trip, tourist busy-ness at such early time of day and grogginess a few hours before end of day that ‘saved’ me from that heartbreak.

P.S. And forgive the title. Seriously, there has to be some rhyme?

IMG_1799Having accepted fact that I could not go do-it-yourself for this specific visit, availed of the hostel’s tour to the Angkor Wat. I’m not sure whether I have mentioned in my previous entry on Siem Reap, but my hostel offers this option of sharing a tour with fellow backpackers but I chose to go solo because apart from me being an introvert, I should have more control over my time. I also had options whether to go to all temples or just choose about three until about noontime. Since I felt I would still need some time for non-tourist stuff and I know myself well enough that I would get bored after seeing too many temples, I decided to take the latter.

My tuktuk tour driver who would take me to the temples arrived at around 5AM. As my flight was already that evening, I had my bag packed from previous night so I was able to check out by then. Since I felt there were no valuables on my luggage, I just left it there in a space dedicated to other bags.

The temple complex is obviously a popular , if not the main, tourist attraction in the area, that from everything from organized. I was particularly amused at how we were even given some sort of ID (with a picture on it), such serves as our pass to the temple grounds. I was initially scared too of the set-up with the driver because I was clueless how we would manage to find each other, having no contact numbers of each or whatsoever. When we made arrangements, however, there was no hint of insecurity in his voice. Later, it dawned on me that it could be because they are so used to such arrangements and it never failed big-time so far. I was so scared of not meeting with him after that I even took a picture of his tuktuk. I wanted to take his picture too but I was scared it would be offensive.

IMG_1799My first stop was at this spot in front of the Angkor Wat where people together wait for the sun to rise. It was swampy but we were all patiently waiting there, cameras – both simple and complicated – ready. When sun rose though, I personally felt that it was highly dependent onn the cloud situation. I think it was a bit cloudy that day so I just took pleasure in that still lovely view of the temple and a pseudo-version of it reflected on the lake in front of it.

It was also amazing how people spent their precious time patiently waiting for a moment to capture the beauty of the temple. I remember this couple in front of me who could not seem to be satisfied with their couple ‘selfie’ with the grand temple in the background. There is also this group of guys beside who even brought with them a cloth to sit on and some sandwiches. Quite an early morning picnic, it was!


Looking back, this photo of tuktuk is not helpful at all



Early morning reflection






Good idea



Best I can capture.



Time to unpack.



People lake.



Temple dog





I decided to start exploring the place when felt I had more than enough attempts to capture. I had no tour guide with me so my enjoyment was limited to feasting my eyes on the structure without really understanding what those pathways and wall carvings mean. I was occasionally trying to eavesdrop with some tour groups but with no success. I then focused on what my eyes could find appealing. I even remember changing my camera settings many times because I was trying my best to most accurately capture the temple’s color under that early morning sun (hence, difference in tone as you can see in succeeding photos)


Mandatory foot selfie



And one more.



Men in perspective



And this time a woman.



Hmm, my bionic ears not working so eavesdropping fail on what those carvings mean.



Is it just me or those structures look like statue-ish spectators?


And more temple photos!

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Only a portion of grand.



A spot tourists tour less.


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A sequel to a scam in Ho Chi Minh, experienced another scam when passing by a seemingly hidden spot inside the temple. I was temporarily distracted when these two girls were invited by this man to get some incense sticks and bow before a statue. He then gave me some sticks, asked me where I came from, and told me to do the same. After that though, he lifted a small cloth at the base of the statue, exposing a couple of dollar bills then eventually asked me to give 10 bucks (Main currency in Cambodia, by the way, is US dollars)


A few minutes before the scam incident



Elephant butt and a face


A few more walks around Angkor Wat – which is the main temple then I was off to the next stop which was Bayon Temple. I immediately fell in love with the massive faces engraved on the temple that I developed this instant love for selfies as I wanted badly to capture the lovelies with me on frame. It was just really challenging with all the many other tourists trying to do the same. There was a temple there I could climb, top of which could give me a view of the Bayon complex. The narrow steps however made me chicken out. I just said to self I definitely have to come back – with someone hopefully.

We passed by less popular temples on the way to our third stop, some of which were closed because “under renovation”. I personally think they should not do anything with these structures but I gues that is one way to preserve given their natural ‘destruction’. This I particularly witnessed with my third and last stop at Ta Phrom wherein temples were affected by giant roots of trees. I remember in particular loving how I was feeling while walking along the dirt road lined with tall trees. This temple ground was known for it being a location shoot of the film Tomb Raider which I admit I have not seen. Up to this date, it is a shame that I don’t know where that spot is. At that time, just to be safe though, I had some photos taken where most tourists were having their pictures taken.



And I couldn’t help but take selfies.



Yep, I did sit down



Oh those faces.



I wonder whether these are parts of the temple or some construction stuff



Let me count the faces



Choose your entrance




Please crop that 1/4 man



Look up



Didn’t go near this because I was scared I might get scammed again



Hmm, quite phallic



I envy this. I shall go up this next time.



Another man in perspective



More elephant butts!



On the way to next temple grounds



Temple in construction


(And these at Ta Phrom)


Who between us photobombed?



Because I shall not again see this entrance.



This bunch.



This walk



One of the trees whose roots kill temples.


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Classic picture of strangers taking pictures


I was done a few minutes before lunch time, leaving me plenty of time back in my hostel area which I spent walking around the old market and Pub Street. When tired, I sat down and had lemonade in this book café. I attempted to read The Beach but I was not in the mood so I went back to walking afterwards. Upon realizing that date was 4/20 and time was nearing 4:20 in the afternoon, I decided to have again my happy pizza. With all confidence from previous day’s lack of conceivable effect, tried extra this time and before I knew it, my next, remaining hours of that trip, was well, in dreamlike history, which while not captured, will never be forgotten.

Whew. And that ended my Holy Week trip for this year.

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Safe from the afternoon heat at this book cafe



Because I missed Ho Chi Minh’s banh mi



But this so-so



Back at this happy place



Ecstatic sounds promising



Now, that is some topping




And I just ate it all



Pirates everywhere



And this at the airport while my eyes were semi-shut. 

(And finally, I am done documenting this Holy Week trip. Can’t wait for this year’s! Which I hopefully get to write soonest!)


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