Hello Siem Reap! We are now in the fun city for 2 weeks. We decided to stay here to volunteer in a school to teach English to kids. We found this project via the website helpx.net which is a great tool to find voluntary work. We will let you know about our experience as we now would like to give you some details on the Angkor Temples ! But where to begin ?
First of all the temples are located in the north of Cambodia near Siem Reap and are part of the 7 wonders of the world. There is no greater concentration of architectural riches anywhere on earth. They have been built according to religious believes, part of the Buddhism and Hinduism. The hundreds of temples remaining are part of the vast political, religious and social center of the ancient Khmer empire. At the time, Angkor was a city with houses, public buildings and a palace. All that disappeared, but some templates stayed for the Gods and Goddesses.
How did we visit the site?
We were based in Siem Reap in a really nice hostel owned by a German, not too far from the site. We decided to rent a bicycle as it can get quite expensive to do it all on tuk-tuk or organized tour ( min 15$) as the bicycle offer flexibility and freedom at a very cheap price. (1-4$ /day). Many people told us that it was too far or too difficult to ride a bike but it is wrong ! The roads are flat all the way, and very well paved. From the town to Angkor Wat, it is only around 5km.
We did Angkor Wat in 1 day.
Okay well, maybe the bicycle ride was too intense for the first day (8 hours). We had, indeed, the impression to have seen it all in 1 day. Of course, it is wrong as the Angkor Wat site is simply enormous. We got many recommendations through blogs and people about the itinerary to do. It is basically advised to divide the site into 3 parts as follows:
Day 1: start with Preah Khan to go then towards Ta Som to reach Banteay.
Day 2: sunrise at Angkor Wat, to go then to Angkor Thom, Bayon and Ta Keo, Ta Prohm.
Day 3: Roluos Group with Bakong and Preah Ke which are 13kms south-east of Siem Reap.
What we did was to start in Angkor Wat. It is surrounded by a moat, 190m wide, which forms a giant rectangle. The central temple complex is a long series of basreliefs designed to be viewed in an counterclockwise direction. It is spectacular to be in those ruins which somehow still give a special energy all around.
We then went toward Angkor Thom which is even more spectacular. To be honest, we could not really define the real purpose of these temples and theirs secrets behind. We had a small guide which was for sure not enough to give us full information on the history. However, we understood that the monumental historical representation were about the Churning of the ocean of Milk, 54 demons and 54 gods engaged in an epic tug of war on the causeway.
In the afternoon we discovered Bayon, which is right at the heart of Angkor Thom. We can see huge faces and more that 11’000 figures. There is quite a lot to see !
Finally, we went to Ta Prohm or the Tomb Raider Temple ! Indeed some part of the movie have been made in the mesmerizing ruins. It is also the home of Indiana Jones and the Two Brothers. It is without doubt our favorite temples as the mixture with the jungle, ruins and temples make the place majestic and at the same time mysterious. We felt like in the movie jumping from one stone to another! 🙂
The Angkor Wat Temples are definitively a must see in a life time ! It is truly one of world’s great sights. We really enjoyed this day, which was full of mystery and adventure through the beauty of the largest religious monument site in the world.
The sunrise by Angkor Wat next to the river or bridge is fine. No need to go inside the temple
The Schein Guesthouse is fantastic and nearby the site: 15$/night, breakfast included
Rent a bike and discover the temples for only 1$/day. The tuk-tuk charge in average 15$/day.