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The Temple of All Temples: Angkor Wat

Orange Cloaked Monks Walking

When you live in or travel to Southeast Asia, Angkor Wat is always high on the list of ‘must see’ places. Of course this comes with the caveat that there will be lots of tourists and many people trying to sell you things, but it is still one of the most impressive temple complexes I have ever seen. It’s the world’s largest Hindu temple complex and largest religious complex. Victor and I took an early morning flight from KL directly to Siem Reap, the large town near the temples, on AirAsia. In my early morning (3 a.m.) blur, I checked the folder with my passport photos that I would need to acquire a tourist visa on arrival. I went into an Indonesian-immigration induced panic. Should this happen to you: don’t panic, they make you pay a very reasonable $1 fee at the airport and send you on your way.

After my panic, we arrived at the hotel and headed to an ATM to get Cambodian money. As we packed into the small A/C ATM booth, we watched the machine spit out US dollars at us. This was the only country in SEAsia where I had seen this happen, we only used Cambodian money a few times during our week in country. We hired a tuk-tuk driver, who was with us for the next three days, and set out to start exploring the truly massive temple area. Since so much has been written about Angkor Wat, this is primarily a photo post of our journey (click on photos in montages for enlargements).

Open Air Ride

It was hot. Really hot. I felt like I was melting while walking around the temples. We stopped and tried some palm juice. It was too sweet for my taste:

Juice

I also stopped and bought a hat from a vendor who insisted her name was Angelina Jolie. Scenes from Tomb Raider were filmed at Angkor Wat. Below are shots mostly from the Bayon temple, one of my favorites:

One of the sad economic realities of a large influx of tourists is young kids trying to make a living:

Buy, Buy, Buy

Climb, Climb, Climb

There are many temples that have not been restored. Our guide the next day told us that during the Khmer Rouge regime, much of the area was not kept up. I find the trees and missing stones have a wonderful effect of their own:

It is easy to start feeling a bit templed out after several days. There is so much to explore and you really do feel tiny next to some of the giant structures:

Lean Over

Small Scale

Many people wake up early to catch the sunrise, but we were so tired after walking around and sweating it out every day that we never made it. Good to save some things for next time, right?

Spotted plenty of elephant carvings as well as some live ones for tourists to ride.

Many of the tuk-tuk drivers have hammocks and take nap breaks while tourists wander around:

Nap Time

At the end of our days, I was ready for a nap too!

13 Comments Post a comment
  1. Lydia what a fantastic experience. Angkor Wat is definitely on our ‘to visit’ list while we are out here too. I know exactly what you mean about the heat – it’s difficult to fully explain how exhausting it can be – it certainly sorts out the fittest, which means I am to be found at the rear!

    I was thinking about you this morning – I’ve got a yen to visit Sumba. I can’t remember if you went there? It’s not far from Flores so I thought Pete and I might spend some time exploring the two if time allows.

    April 24, 2013
    • Angkor Wat is a feast the eyes and all camera lenses, so I hope you make it there. The heat made me the thinnest I have ever been in my life, so I can’t complain too much :)

      Sadly, I didn’t make it to Sumba. A friend who has lived in Indonesia for many years went recently, so I’d be happy to put you in touch if you want to ask someone about it. Cheers!

      April 24, 2013
      • Lydia, that would be fantastic, thank you.

        I’m just getting fatter and fatter – I think I need to get to Angkor Wat soon! :D

        April 24, 2013
  2. Angkor Wat is well worth a visit but there are plenty of other temples worth visiting around Siem Reap. Cambodia generally is a welcoming and photogenic country. The colours are fantastic. I’m going back in 4 weeks. Getting tourist free shots at Angkor is tough. We did the sunrise. Not very good but worth a try.

    April 24, 2013
    • Yes, I would love to visit some of the temples further out. Next trip! Where in Cambodia are you headed? Look forward to seeing it/reading about it on your blog.

      April 24, 2013
  3. carrie #

    i did angkor wat when i was in cambodia last spring. it’s absolutely incredible! the pictures i have are wonderful and some of my favorite but really don’t do it justice, in my opinion. and i feel your pain about the heat, besides a hott yoga session i’ve never sweated that much in my life ever.

    April 24, 2013
    • Ha, I have never tried hot yoga — probably won’t now :) I feel the same about my photos. It’s a place that probably can never be satisfactorily captured by photos. Plus that feeling when you get while there.

      April 24, 2013
  4. Eee! I’m going here in just a few weeks. I cannot wait! Good to know about American $, I’ll take extra for this part of the trip.

    April 24, 2013
    • How exciting! Can’t wait to see your posts. I’ll be posting in the next few days about Siem Reap and our one day trip outside of the city there and, of course, Cambodian cuisine!

      April 24, 2013
      • That’s wonderful! I look forward to reading all about it and getting some recommendations too. Happy travels!

        April 24, 2013
  5. Lydia — great photos and information. I sooooo want to get to Angkor Wat and Cambodia. Actually, I want to get to Southeast Asia, period. For now I will vicariously through posts like yours! Thanks, Steph

    April 24, 2013
    • Thanks for reading, Steph! Hope you get there soon. I am itching to go back already.

      April 24, 2013
  6. From the pictures who had it there I like it very much, one day me and my wife will visit cambodia to witness the Angkot Wat.

    May 15, 2013

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