With our last four day break of the year we decided to head out of the country and see Siem Reap, Cambodia. About 4 miles from the city is the UNESCO Angkor Archaeological Park.
The map we used on our way around Angkor
In the park extends around 400 square Kilometers and multiple temples, the most famous of which is called Angkor Wat.
Angkor Wat from across a pond within the temple
The intricacies of the temples were amazing. As said by a guy we met while hiking through one temple, “This place makes the Egyptian Pyramids look like children with blocks.”
A sample of the carvings you can find in all the temples at Angkor.
Two of the 216 said faces of Angkor Thom. Can you spot them?
Our first day exploring we decided to rent bikes for a $1 each and peddle around the park. Our plan was to visit three main areas, Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom, and Ta Prohn (where Tomb Raider was filmed). We ended up biking about 12 miles in the heat of 35 degrees Celsius (about 95F). It was a great way to see the area, being able to take our time and pull off to see the sights.
The bikes we rode, Brooke riding through a gate of Angkor Thom, and a deer crossing sign.
The Bridges in Angkor are all lined with these statues.
Passageways found throughout the temples.
As you hike your way through the temples there are many stairs you get to climb most of the stairs are about half the size of my foot and at an extreme angle. I heard they were at about a 60 degree angle it felt like they were closer to 87 degrees.
The temple stairs.
The next day, with our legs wobbly and an early wake up call to see the sunrise over Angkor Wat, we decided on taking a Tuk-Tuk driver to drive us around the park. We did what is known as the small tour circuit, and saw Preah Khan, Neak Pean, Ta Som, East Mebon, Pre Rup, and Banteay Kdel. All of which are amazing in their own ways. It seems to us at least that each temple gave us something new.
Riding on our Tuk Tuk. This was great after a day of biking. Our Tuk Tuk driver for two days Bye and I. Yes, his name was Bye and his number was 7886 (78 is my football number and 86 is the year Brooke was born. Easy to remember!)
On our last day we realized we had finished what most people see in three or four days. So we were lost on what to do. We read about a floating village tour, but it sounded like a scam. Turns out it is too since some of our friends ended up going to see the village and had some pretty entertaining scam stories to retell at the rooftop pool later that day. We ended up taking a tuk-tuk about 40km out of town to see a few more temples.
Climbing and exploring the temples
Although looking at the temples now adays, they look as though they are just carvings, and stone rubble. In actuality they are bustling with people, and not just tourists gawking at how amazing they are. We were also able to see Buddhist Monks old and young.
Being a huge religious area one can see monks walking all over.
There were lots of kids selling food, cold drinks, and trinkets. These kids are good salesmen. One came up to Brooke and asked her to play a game with her, then drew a tic tac toe board in the dirt. Another came up to me, stood next to me, and started counting her postcards to ten in at least four different languages.
Children were either selling products at every temple or hanging out waiting for their parents to finish cleaning the temples.
Artists spend their days in the shade of the passageways and over hangs looking for the right light to paint and sell.
artists in the temples painting the scenery.
For some cooling down after a day out in the sun we would head straight to our hotels rooftop pool, then hop in a Tuk Tuk to Pub Street, with some friends who were on vacation with us, for dinner and a couple drinks.
The Bui Vien, party/night market street of Siem Reap
Although we appreciated and enjoyed our time in all the temples, we would have to say that our favorites were: Bayon in Ankgor Thom because of the faces, Ta Som because of the hallway and tree at the end, Benteay Samre because of how quiet and peaceful it was, and finally, not so much a temple, but the holy river Kbal Spean because we needed to hike a 1500 kilometer (1 mile) to see it.