I travelled to Siem Reap from Ho Chi Minh Airport; I could’ve taken a bus but had to have proof that I was leaving Vietnam before arriving. On an unrelated note, it’s been said that I look very much like a meme of a cat. Out of all the places I could find this cat’s Instagram page, it was right before airport security. As the person checking my passport gave me the glare, all I could think was “shall I pull the cat face?” which made it really hard to keep a straight face (I couldn’t). For the tickets to the temples you have to have a photo taken for your pass so I just pulled the cat face there, hopefully that got it out of my system.
My first impression was that it is a lot less chaotic here in Siem Reap than in Vietnam, and so much easier to get around. On the way from the airport into the city the taxi driver would not stop texting, to the point where I wanted to ask him to let me drive and he could give me directions. After a quick nap I popped into the tourist area of the city to the markets – I saw someone setting up food on a stall attached to her motorbike, and then drove up the road. Not too sure if I’d like a side dish of exhaust fumes.
Yesterday, I woke up at 3.45am to snooze for 20 minutes, and then to the temples via tuk tuk. First stop was Angkor Wat for sunrise, then to Ta Prohm, and then a few smaller ones before finishing at Angkor Thom. Ta Prohm was one of the places where Tomb Raider was filmed and gave a lot of attention to Cambodia through the movies. I asked the driver what Cambodians thought of the movies as I guessed that westerners coming over here and to flood the temples whilst people are worshipping would cause some kind of disruption, but it seems as though from what he said that the Cambodians just like to see people enjoy their country.
Sim, the driver, is also an expert Instagram-style photographer in the temples that he’s allowed into, and he knows a lot about them too. I also have heaps of pictures. Literally heaps. He has a Facebook page which can be used to rent his tuk tuk, and if anyone reading this wants a recommendation, his page is here.
The temples were great though it was a hot day, reaching 33 degrees and nearing 80% humidity but well worth getting up at 4.30am. I really liked visiting Ta Prohm as the environment is growing on the temples, so you can see the trees growing up them, which definitely made it feel like I was far away from home.
Today I went to Angkor National Museum to get more of an understanding of these temples, and a lot of it is based around two religions I don’t know a lot about – Hinduism and Buddhism – I definitely felt as though I deserved my grade G in GCSE RE. Different kings used different style of architecture to build these temples with symbolism from religion. Some of the pieces on display are dated from the 10th century, obviously made without any technology or transportation like we have today. Whenever I see things like this, I’m always reminded that I will quite happily buy a sandwich if I can’t be arsed to make one, yet a thousand years ago people were working tirelessly to construct these temples and the work inside.
It started raining whilst in the museum so I returned to the hostel to chill and watch some TV. I found a great restaurant nearby so I’ve eaten some awesome Cambodian food over the past few days.
Overall, I’ve only spent three nights in Cambodia, but I have really enjoyed my stay here. As I want to get my back seen to in Malaysia before I go to India next weekend(!) I’ve had to keep my visit short but sweet, and it would’ve been nice to spend a week or two longer here. Since leaving Australia this is the eighth country I’ve been to, and whilst I can’t judge the country on two whole days in one place, it’s the one so far I’d pick to come back to next time I’m in Asia.