BarclAysia Day 9: Angkor Wat

(posted by Emily)

27 December 2014
Siem Reap, Cambodia 
Step Count: Rick's phone has decided to stop turning on, so no more step counts this trip :-/

Saturday morning came particularly early for us. Seeing the sun rise over Angkor Wat is one of the "must-do" activities when visiting Siem Reap, so we were up at 4:30, ready to meet our driver, Mr. Kim, at 5am. He was ready and waiting for us, with a cooler of water (standard procedure for a day tuk tuk hire) and we were off to Angkor. 

I was very grateful we had bought our passes early--the ticket gates open at 5am, but the park doesn't officially open until 5:30. The queue was already very deep when we were arriving, but we got to drive right past by showing our tickets. 

It was fascinating to see the crowds going in to the main temple area. Most groups had flashlights, and there were so many stars in the sky. The standard spot to watch the sun rise is off to the left of the temple, where the reflection of the temple and sky is reflected in a small lake. Because Mr. Kim insisted we meet at 5 and we had pre-bought tickets, we were able to find spots to stand just at the edge of the lake--right behind the front row of people, who were sitting on the edge of the water. Perfect, unobstructed view. 

We got some great shots as the sun came up and I had a good chuckle to myself as people tried to use a flash when taking their photos (not helpful in the least). It was only when the sun was all the way up that I realized how deep the crowd was--literally hundreds and hundreds of people. We lucked out with our spot--it was easily as good as the spots staked out by professional photographers. 

HUGE crowd. And this was after it had started to dissipate a bit. 

The pool that the temple is reflected in is filled with waterlillies. Beautiful!
After Angkor Wat, we went on to explore a number of other temples. We had some idea of the places we wanted to see, but used Mr. Kim's expertise on which would be less crowded. We saw Ta Prohm, Bayon, Baphuon, and Preah Kahn, with others along the way. 

Many of the temples have been invaded by the jungle. Plenty of the ruins have enormous banyan trees growing right out of the stone. 

Driving through the Victory Gate

View from the top
Stopped for a coconut--at $1, a steal!
The tuk tuk drivers park and wait for you to finish your sightseeing. We wondered if they are all friends, and saw Mr. Kim hanging out with some buddies or playing games on his cell phone while waiting for us. These fellows were playing chess. 

So many animals around--including chickens!
On our way back to the hotel, there was a steady stream of traffic headed to Angkor. I did not envy them--the day was just starting to get hot, with lots of sun. 
With Mr. Kim, our driver. 
We headed back to the hotel around 11:45am. It felt like a full day already, since we had gotten up so early and had spent the better part of 7 hours hiking around the ruins. A shower, some internet noodling, and a nap. 

Around 4:45, we grabbed another tuk tuk into downtown Siem Reap. We were hoping to go to a restaurant called Peace Cafe for dinner, but they had closed for a private event at 5. So, we found our way to another veg stop with good reviews, Chamkar. We were hoping to try some unique local cuisine and weren't disappointed. 

View of the alley where the restaurant was
Fresh lime juice
A starter called Wedding Dip, made with ginger, peanuts, coconut milk, and mushrooms. Amazing. We've never had anything like it!
Peanut pesto pasta--because we are that predictable :)
A Khmer curry dish--very light and sweet, with sweet potato and tomato 
After dinner, we decided to stop for massages--after being spoiled in Thailand, they left a lot to be desired. But, at $5 a pop, who can really complain?

We wandered some more of the night market stands, and stopped for 50 cent beers. Again, not great, but at that price, who can complain?!

Our last stop of the evening was The Purple Mangosteen, a small bar offering 2 for 1 happy hour drink specials that had Pimms on the menu--and you know we are suckers for a good Pimms cup! We also ordered a spring roll, but it arrived with some suspicious looking contents (either chicken or shrimp) so we didn't eat it. 

Another walk down Pub Street to finish the night. 

Massage Count: 6

Back to Thailand tomorrow!


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