Temples Galore in Siem Reap, Cambodia

We arrived in Cambodia after a short one-hour flight from Bangkok. We were met at the airport by a driver from the hotel, The Central Boutique Angkor Hotel. It's been the most pleasant hotel we've stayed in thus far.

To our surprise (and delight!) we took our first ride in a Tuk-Tuk. In Siem Reap, Tuk-Tuk’s and motorcycles, far out number cars. And many of the passengers of the motorcycles are young children and toddlers (yes toddlers!) without helmets!

Tuk Tuk!

We arrived at the hotel around 7:30pm and while checking in I spotted the spa menu: $10 massages! You know I was all over that, and booked one for 8:30pm!

The next morning we met our guide named Ly and made our way to the temples of Siem Reap. He picked us up in a (air-conditioned, yes!) Toyota Camry with a personal driver. We started at Angkor Wat which is the largest religious monument in the world. Angkor Wat took 37 years to build and over a million people worked on it. It was built in the early 12th century by King Suryavarman II as a Hindu temple. In the late 13th century, Angkor Wat transitioned from a Hindu temple to a Theravada Buddhist temple, which is what 90% of Cambodians practice today.

It's tough to get an idea of the size and scope of Angkor Wat by looking at photos. It is huge! It's also surrounded by a huge moat, visible in the photo below.

Angkor Wat from above

Our guide then took us to Angkor Thom, a temple built by King Jayavarman VII, who is also the King who changed Angkor Wat from Hindu to Buddhist. He also built the Bayon temple, which we visited as well. It was made of blue sandstone, thus not holding up too well. Gray sandstone is more long-lasting, which is what was used to build Angkor Wat.

Entrance to Angkor Thom

The French and Indians have been doing restorations throughout Angkor Park (the 30+ temples in the area) since the 1960s. One of my favorite temples we visited, was Ta Prohm, which can also be found in the 2001 film Tomb Raider. It is engulfed in massive tree roots that are over 300 years old. It is really a site to see.

Ta Prohm

The temperature hovered around 90 plus degrees, so we were very sticky after a day of touring and spent the rest of the late afternoon relaxing by the pool.

On day 2 of Cambodia, I decided to venture out on my own. I've known for awhile now, but I guess I've hidden in a bit of denial: I definitely can not read maps. I was just trying to go a few blocks away to the Central Market and ended up on back streets heading towards the airport.

Siem Reap is not large and feels more like a village than a city, so don't fret Mom & Dad, I was very safe. :) I did finally stumble upon the market and an air conditioned 'mall' which was a welcoming site. I grabbed a Coke for 40 cents and tried to head back towards the hotel, but alas couldn't resist getting a $5 pedicure.

We had a lovely, albeit short, time in Siem Reap. Next up: Chiang Mai, Thailand!