I wouldn't recommend it, but somehow I managed to see the highlights of Siem Reap in a single day. How? Well, almost 24 hours awake is the first step... 4:30 am: Rise and Shine
Like almost everyone who goes to see Angkor Wat, we chose to see it at sunrise. Through a twist of luck (planning on our part was not involved) we were one day off the spring solstice, which means the sun was rising almost directly behind the Angkor Wat towers. After crawling out of bed at 4:30 am, and getting to the temple at around 5:30 we patiently waited in the dark for the sun to rise.
It was actually almost full light before the blazing ball of the sun actually appeared, and many people had left before it arrived. They missed a stunning sight. Absolutely worth the 4:30 wake up and long wait.
After sunrise, we set out to explore the temple. Maybe it was the early hour, but I got a little snap-happy and managed to take over 150 pictures of Angor Wat (366 total for the day - I think
I have a problem). The best part was when we came across the monkies that live by the temple. They are so used to people that they actually climbed up a woman who had her bottle of water out and took the bottle (I didn't get a picture because I was too busy laughing). 9 am: The Jungle Temple
After Angor Wat, we headed to the Jungle Temple (Ta Prohm). Absolutely my favourite. The trees that have taken over the temple grounds are absolutely stunning, and the root systems are fascinating. I almost don't want them to restore the temple more, as the current ruins are part of the temple's charm. I could have easily spent all morning exploring every nook and cranny of this place, and regret that I could not. 11:30 am: Bayon Temple
Obviously we couldn't miss this happiest temple on earth. It's funny, you see photos of the faces as you plan for your trip as they are so iconic. But to see them in person is so different because there are so many. Everywhere you look in Bayon there is another face. And they never get old
- endlessly fascinating to examine and look at from different angles (part of the snap happy problem I had).
Now, normally I'm not a "vibe" person but I have to say Bayon's smiling faces definitely had a positive energy. They just made me happy, as they did the people I'm travelling with. Even thinking about them now, I get a smile on my face. I don't know if it was the intention of temple to promote positive feelings, but if it was it's still effective 800 years later. 1 pm: Lunch
We ate at a tourist stop and it was another example of the one thing I don't like about Siem Reap: the prices. While compared to the west, it's super cheap. But I'm used to the prices in Asia at this point and it was expensive. As they use American dollars, everything is inflated. A can of Diet Coke would have actually been more expensive than home at $1.50, so I refuse to buy them on principal. I'm hoping that after Siem Reap prices will drop down, but I don't have great hope. 4:30 pm: Floating Village
We took a
bit of a rest to stay out of the heat for a few hours (the temples did us in) and then headed to take a boat ride and see the floating village near Siem Reap. It is one of those "must do" things and it was quite interesting to see how people live. Highlights included the floating alligator farm and watching some children race in two boats. We ended the visit watching the sunset over the village before heading back to town. 7 pm: Dinner and another "Temple"
After heading back into town we grabbed dinner by the night market, spending big at $5 each (including large beers). There is definitely going to be an "Adventures in Food" for Cambodia, so I'll leave my meal description for that blog later next week. We decided that it would be nice to have a few beers/drinks on Pub Street, but were going to make it an early night as it had been such a long day.
After 29 years on this planet you would think I would have learned to never say you are going to only have a few drinks. It never goes as intended.
We headed to Temple Bar (so appropriately named) and discovered that a BUCKET of vodka and red bull was $10. I'm going to leave it at that. Needless to say, I fell into bed (passed out?) at aroudn 3 am. Thank god our bus to Phnom Phen was in the afternoon.
So that was my 24 hour fly by visit of Siem Reap. For the record, I would have loved to do explore the temples over several days and see more than just the 3 key ones, but it wasn't in the cards so I made due with time I had. It was pretty awesome, and wort
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