Siem Reap 17th-21st November

My first full day here was taken up with interview preparation and a phone interview for a job which was too good an opportunity to pass over just because I’m still travelling. Once that was over and done with, I got onto exploring temples. 

I bought a three day temple pass and booked myself onto some tours. My first one was a sunrise tour to Angkor Wat and three other temples within the “small circuit”. Even at 4 in the morning, there were hundred of tourists at Angkor wat to watch the sunrise. I thought I’d picked a great spot to set up a time lapse with no one else around to walk in front of it and ruin it but once light started coming through, many tourists were walking past so in the end, it wasn’t very good. Hey ho. 

Our guide then took us on a tour around the temple, telling us all about the history and explaining what the carvings all meant. I really struggle to comprehend how they built this remarkable temple 800 years ago and entirely by hand. Some of the wall carvings were so detailed it really is an extraordinary thing they did. 

In another area of the temple, there were some monks who, for a small donation, could bless you with cleansing water that is supposed to wash away all your sins and protect you from any bad spirits. I opted for this for the experience and to get rid of all my bad karma. I knew he was going to flick water at me again and again (they don’t skimp on that – I basically had a shower…) but still, every time I kept flinching.  He then tied a bracelet around my left wrist (left for women, right for men… unsure why it makes any difference…) which is supposed to protect me from getting possessed until I take it off. It’s staying firmly on my wrist until I get back to the UK safely and mishap free! 

At the next temple (known as the smiling Buddha temple), on some stairs up to the top, a monkey was sitting in the way so we all took the other stairs to go around and as I got to the top of the stairs, he moved to block my way! 

The temple after that was a sad sight. It had been bombed and because the shattered stones had been flung all over the place and into so many different pieces, it was impossible to restore it all and there were still piles of stones in the corners of the temples. They did as much as they could but it was definitely not showing it’s former glory. 

The last temple was nicknamed the “Tomb Raider” temple as that’s where they filmed the film. I really liked this one as there are some very impressive trees literally growing out of the stone. I thought a lot of the time, their roots looked like a very viscous liquid slowly flowing down the temple walls. 

Another day, I took a sunset tour around the “Grand Circuit”. This one was without a guide so we could go at our pace (so long as we were still on track for the sunset!). I’m really glad I took the guided tour first as then on this tour, I knew what to look out for and what certain things in the temples meant but I was also very glad this one didn’t have a tour guide as sometimes it’s nicer to go at the pace you want to and spend more time where you’re enjoying yourself and spend less time at places that aren’t as interesting to me. On this tour, there were also some really interesting people. I really enjoyed speaking to them about a whole host of topics. 

This sunset, I managed to go another good position and given that we were on top of a temple, there was no chance of anyone walking in front of the camera. 

On the journey back to the hostel was beautiful with a rich red coloured sky and sillouettes  of the trees. It was also lovely and cool sitting in the back of a tuk tuk as sitting on top of the temple was very warm with heat continuously radiating off the dark stones. 

Fun ride for a dog. Seen on the way back from the sunset

After wandering around the town, I found a really nice market which was much nicer than the normal markets (and with less harassment from the sellers) and bought myself a few nice things. This was also a much nicer area and so I spent quite a bit of time wandering around there and stopping for teas and coffees along the way, watching the world go by. 

Bridge over (un)troubled water towards the night markets

It was really interesting being in a place like this. Despite the fact that these temples have been here for almost 1000 years, it has only very recently become a tourist hotspot with international interest. This is how the trees were able to grow in the stones over hundreds of years but now, they cannot be removed as they are now a key part in the structural integrity of the temples. From my understanding, it is richer countries like Japan, Germany, and the USA that fund the refurbishments of the temples and the cost of the tickets primarily goes towards a children’s hospital and some other local causes. 

1 Comment

  1. Victoria Hellyer

    Good title for the bridge photo 🙂

Comments are closed