Siem Reap & Angkor Wat

Siem Reap, a resort town in northwestern Cambodia, is the gateway to the ruins of Angkor, the seat of the Khmer kingdom from the 9th–15th centuries. Angkor’s vast complex of intricate stone buildings includes preserved Angkor Wat, the main temple, which is pictured on Cambodia’s flag. Giant, mysterious faces are carved into the Bayon Temple at Angkor Thom.

🙂 INCREDIBLE ruins! Absolute best is the octopus-like roots of a tree growing over the building entrance just before the inner moat at Angkor’s Ta Prohm site.

🙁 Young children being put out to beg by their parents.

We were up and enjoyed breakfast at 07h00 before our transfer to the airport for our 10h00 flight. At the airport we realised that we had lost the Canon camera!! Complete panic. We called the hotel but it was not there. I managed to get in touch with our driver – he had found it but not in time for our flight….he would get it transferred for us for our return – aaargh! But at least it was safe!

Our tour of Angkor Wat was by Tuk Tuk – highly recommended as such a great way to see the place as combined with walking.

Angkor is one of the most important archaeological sites in South-East Asia. Stretching over some 400 km2, including forested area, Angkor Archaeological Park contains the magnificent remains of the different capitals of the Khmer Empire, from the 9th to the 15th century. They include the famous Temple of Angkor Wat and, at Angkor Thom, the Bayon Temple with its countless sculptural decorations. UNESCO has set up a wide-ranging programme to safeguard this symbolic site and its surroundings.

Our first stop was Bayon – Though Bayon is now known to have been built by Jayavarman VII, for many years its origins were unknown. Shrouded in dense jungle, it also took researchers some time to realise that it stands in the exact centre of the city of Angkor Thom. There is still much mystery associated with Bayon – such as its exact function and symbolism – and this seems only appropriate for a monument whose signature is an enigmatic smiling face. Unlike Angkor Wat, which looks impressive from all angles, Bayon looks rather like a glorified pile of rubble from a distance. It’s only when you enter the temple and make your way up to the third level that its magic becomes apparent. Some say that the Khmer empire was divided into 54 provinces at the time of Bayon’s construction, hence the 54 pairs of all-seeing eyes keeping watch on the kingdom’s outlying subjects.

Angkor Wat – built by Suryavarman II (r 1113–50) – is the earthly representation of Mount Meru, the Mount Olympus of the Hindu faith, and the abode of ancient gods. The Cambodian god-kings of old each strove to better their ancestors’ structures in size, scale, and symmetry, culminating in what is believed to be the world’s largest religious building.

The temple is the heart and soul of Cambodia and a source of fierce national pride. Unlike the other Angkor monuments, it was never abandoned to the elements and has been in virtually continuous use since it was built.

We received a blessing from the Monks.

Ta Prohm was built as a double-moated, royal monastery during the reign of Jayavarman VII at the end of the twelfth century. As a Mahayana Buddhist, the king dedicated the monument to his mother envisioned as a “bodhisattva” or saint of compassion. The images of Buddha himself were removed from the temple by Jayavarman VII’s successor, Jayavarman VIII, who was a Hindu. When French explorers first discovered the overgrown buildings at the ancient capital of Angkor in the late 1800s, much of the area was completely covered by forest. In particular, the roots of strangler figs, kapok, and banyan trees aggressively encompassed the Angkor structures.

Local wildlife!

It was time for a beer after the heat of the day! Then back to our hotel and out and about.

Charlotte and I had a massage

and then headed to Pub Street which was a vibrant and happening place!

Dinner was delicious

We then had some of the famed ice cream rolls

Then we headed to a bar for a nightcap

It is hilarious – this tune came on and everyone streamed out of all the bars and clubs to go and dance in the street! 🙂

Go to: Cambodia

Go Back to: Phnom Penh

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