The highlight of our 5-day trip in Siem Reap, Cambodia is on the second day which is the most challenging and rewarding.
Well the entire trip is a success in spite of setbacks. But I must say visiting four temples out of the hundreds has a special place in my heart.
I finally made my dream come true and take along my siblings with me for an adventure.
It’s a mystery just like the temples when will we ever have time to travel together again. So we have this memories and photos that can take us back in time.
So what happened on this special day?
Let me share to you our first adventure together outside the Philippines.
Our trip was convenient because we joined a tour with nine people for an entire day.
We were picked up at the hotel and off we went to Angkor Wat, the only temple I can think of once Cambodia is mentioned.
I didn’t know that there are hundreds of temples and Angkor Wat is the most famous and biggest.
To avoid long walk and crowd, we approached the temple from the back. The path is shorter.
We had a good start for beginners in climbing the stairs which is quite steep and narrow. It’s only a warming-up exercise. From afar it’s hard to imagine how huge Angkor Wat is. Most of all, how do Khmer were able to drag all the stones to this spot.
Many temples are undergoing renovation, and Angkor Wat is no exception.
This long stretch wall were rehabilitated. Look at the intricacy of ancient craftsmanship.
Some visitors prayed inside the temple. We were able to also see monks; I refrained from taking pictures out of respect.
Something unusual happened before we reached the facade of Angkor Wat. The sun has rainbow around it or whatever phenomenon was it.
I felt so lucky to be there and tried to be mindful of the moment.
This is the long path that leads to Angkor Wat. It became our exit.
I can spend the entire day staring at the facade. That’s probably what I should do next time.
Tip: Please be careful in climbing up stone stairs. The edges were round due to constant use. If this continues, time will come that it’s impassable and look more like a slide.
Wooden stairs were built for a safer access for some of the entrance/exit.
After a sumptuous lunch (a vegetarian pizza for me), we were off to our next temple.
This is smaller than Angkor Wat. We didn’t have to climb stairs but caution is still a must.
I didn’t know whether I’ll focus my attention to the ruins or towering trees with its gargantuan roots invading the site.
How did it happen? The temple and trees cohabiting peacefully? Not quite.
Another construction going on.
The trees were uprooting the stones and knocking off structures.
In spite of environmental invasion, the grandeur of Ta Phrom which is famously known as Jolie’s Temple is still evident.
I hope the ancient wonder and nature can coexist without causing damage to one another so future generations can learn and witness Cambodian history.
Bayon Temple (My Favourite)
I loved to tell you how I fell in love with this temple.
Look at those faces mirroring human emotions reminding us that our life has its seasons.
There’s always going to be a rainbow after a rain.
We only have to climb a plight of stairs and that was it. By now, you can probably tell that I am afraid of heights.
I wonder how many faces there are in Bayon.
I wish the columns would still be standing. Isn’t nice to walk in between those giants.
The rest inside an air-conditioned van and supply of water, gave me a chance to recover before we head to another temple.
But by this time my energy was used up. No kidding. Yet I am looking forward to witness the sun set. Unfortunately, it’s cloudy and the sun is nowhere in sight.
One thing is for sure. We had to walk up a hill/mountain to reach Phnom Bakheng.
Looking at that height. Guessed what I did.
I skipped going up the temple. Reaching it is already an achievement for me. So no sir, I better have a seat and enjoy the view from below.
This is the view from the top of Phnom Bakheng. I asked a solo traveller which became my friend to send me a copy of photos taken at top of the temple.
You’ll notice that most of the towers or gates only had foundations as a proof of what was once there.
Not to far from where my siblings and I sat, I saw elephants which I’m thrilled to see but not the state that they were in.
Tourists ride on elephant’s back. The driver use a hook to prompt the elephant to move. What an awful sight.
Elephant riding will be ban in 2020 in Angkor Wat. But what about in other temples.
If you’re planning to visit, please DO NOT support such animal abuse.
Take a hike. Enjoy a conversation on your way up. Make memories not at the expense of another suffering creature.
Spending a day in four temples was worth our time. I know we could do more but what’s the use if we are rushing and too exhausted to appreciate beauty.
Less is more. This minimalism ideal also applies in travelling.
If I’ll have the chance to go back, I’ll visit other temples, war museum, and elephant sanctuary. I’ll be more prepared next time yet with equal enthusiasm as if it’s my first time in Siem Reap.
What temple do you like to visit in Cambodia? Or would you rather go to museums or markets?