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mistybleu Siem Reap - A travel report by Amanda
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Siem Reap,  Cambodia - flag Cambodia -  Si«m Réab
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mistybleu's travel reports

72 hours in Cambodia...

  11 votes
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Cambodia is a big beautiful country which should be explored at leisure. There are so many little villages, remote temples and happy people to meet. Definitely 72 hours isn't enough, but the hightlight of my journey was Angkor Wat. report of the month contest
Jul 2011


Angkor souvenirs
Angkor souvenirs
When I first planned my trip to Cambodia, I was meant to spend over a week there, however my plans changed and I could only allocate 72 hours.

So my trip turned out to be an introduction to Indo-China (the three former French colonies: Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia). Initially I thought the term referred to South East Asia, however the beauty of travel is learning about our world. So heading into region I got a better understanding.

My first stop on the trail to Indo-China was Cambodia to discover the tiny town of Siem Reap, which became popular owing to its proximaty to Angkor Wat.

Cambodia is now known as one of the poorest nations in South East Asia. It is bordered by the Mekong River on the northeast and southeast is Laos and Vietnam respectively. To the northwest Thailand and the west as a small coast line.

Cambodia is most well known for its ancient capital of the Khmer Empire, Angkor. The site is home to one of the world’s most spectacular religious monuments, Angkor Wat, which is one of the major highlights for any visit to this region. In a category of its own there is no other historical site in South East Asia that matches its grandeur.

Spread over 300km and surrounded by dense rainforest, the temples of Angkor were mostly built between the 9th and 13th centuries as temples of state to serve the Devarja cult that pervaded the prevailing Hinduism of this time.

I have two favourite places, exploring Ta Phrom and Bayon Temples. Ta Phrom because it was amazing to see the trees growing between the bricks and straining to structures untill they collapsed under the pressure and where the the trees and stone work dwell side by side relying on each other for strength. The Bayon Temples in Angkor Thom are also amazing. The serene faces are so calming that wandering thourgh the little passageways you can't help but smile.

Favourite spots:
Ta Phrom
Ta Phrom
I purchased my ticket for the Angkor Archaeological Park the afternoon before I intended to visit, as I was advised that I would be able to enter the park to watch the sun set. Tickets for the following day go on sale around 4.30pm, so rented a bike and cycle the 7km to Angkor. The journey was great as the road was very flat and even though to day was blisteringly hot it felt fine.

I got a map from my hotel and realised it was a straight route to the park.

At the west gate is the Angkor Balloon company, where for a few dollars you can see the vast area from the air with a bird’s eye view. I didn't try it but I've seen the pictures and it pretty amazing.

Angkor was is a brilliant temple village and has a wonderful mix of Hinduism and Buddhism features. For 3 centuries it remained undiscovered as the jungle took over, until 1861 when Henri Mouhot a French naturalist rediscovered the area.

It should really be a new 7 Wonder of the

What's really great:
Bayan Temple
Bayan Temple
A three day pass cost $40 and is valid for one week which means you get to use the pass 3 days within the week, not necessarily consecutively. This offers a great opportunity to travel further afield and explore some of the more remote temples.

Judging by the comments at the airport, most of the prices for tours are fixed, but with a bit of negotiating you can book a tour with either a taxi ($30) or a tuk tuk driver ($15). Usually this is for a standard tour that will take in three of the main sites and last up to eight hours.

I thought that 8 hours would have been too much time, but the area is so vast and with so many temples and pyramids etc that I used up the time without even thinking about it.

Sights:
Siem Reap travelogue picture
The Cambodia Cultural Village is a perfect place to understand a little bit about Cambodia. They have an evening performance scheduled with dinner, songs and dance. However the dancing style takes on a more regional tone, as the Cambodian style is a little slower, but none the less makes an enjoyable evening.

Psar Chaa - the Old Market is bustling with energy and activities with many souvenir stores, pubs, bars and restaurants. This is where you'll find most of the tourists. I was told to visit early in the morning to see the wet produce market and get a better sense of local lives. There are fresh vegetables, meats, and various foods on display. Other than that, I found precious stones, Buddha heads, local arts and crafts for sale at the souvenir stores. But I had to haggle for the best price.

Accommodations:
Siem Reap travelogue picture
I always feel safer booking a hotel before I arrive in a town, but sometimes my idea of adventure is going just turning up seeing how I fair. I wasn’t to intimidating as my driver took me to internet cafe and then to a few hotels to ensure that I got a really good price.

I went for a medium sized hotel just outside the main part of the town, which still felt central and only a block away from the road to Angkor.

There was an eclectic charm about the Prumbayon Hotel; it was filled with wonderful solid wooden furniture. The rooms were basic (the lock on the balcony door was broken) but clean. They had a swimming pool and with the heat of Cambodia was essential. The service was ok and I ended up getting a couple of hours free surfing as the lift broke down one evening, which was a bit of a bonus as I needed to get some flights sorted out to Vietnam, the next leg of my Indo-China tour.

Restaurants:
Angkor Thom
Angkor Thom
I didn’t eat in many restaurants while I was in Cambodia, mainly owing to the length of my stay in the country, but the day I spent in the Angkor Archaeological Park, I eat at a road side restaurant.

The day was so hot, I was thankful that I rented an air conditioned car and not a tuk-tuk. My driver took me to one of the many roadside restaurants, near the western gate. The restaurant was wooden huts with basic amenities; but the people were very friendly. I believe drivers have regular places that they take their guest, which is kind of good as it takes away a lot of guess work in choosing a restaurant. The food was simple yet very tasty - fried rice with an egg on top.

Other recommendations:
Siem Reap travelogue picture
The day in the park starts early to avoid some of the intense heat of the day. When I crossed the main bridge into the Wat, it was really magical and awe inspiring. The path seemed like it went on forever.

The main sites are Angkor Wat, Ankgor Thom and Ta Prohm. Angkor Wat is made up of 5 stupas shaped liked a closed lotus flowers and has a mix of Hinduism and Buddhism. Once you navigate the many walkways in this labyrinth you reach the inner sanctum where you find a standing Buddha draped in a saffron cloth.

Most temples in the complex face eastwardly, except for Angkor Wat - it faces west and makes a truly perfect location for the evening sunset.

Angkor Thom is a huge complex (9km sq) of temples and pyramids. The main temple is that of Bayon with the distinctive serene stone faces on every tower. The elephant terrace is also of interest.

Ta Prohm is located (approx) 1 km east of Angkor Thom. It has been left as it was found, with

Published on Wednesday July 20th, 2011


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Mon, Aug 15 2011 - 02:20 AM rating by britman

Lovely report - Congrats on Report of the Month! I really must visit both Cambodia and Laos - they are Number one and two on my where to go next list!

Fri, Aug 12 2011 - 04:25 PM rating by krisek

Cool report! Brought so many great memories... Excellent job and congratulations on getting the Report of the Month Award.

Fri, Aug 12 2011 - 02:41 AM rating by pesu

Congrats on winning RoM, Amanda, it's well-deserved for your great report about this magnificent place! Good tips and photos as well.

Thu, Aug 11 2011 - 10:14 PM rating by eirekay

Amanda! What a marvelous report! Love the idea of the 3 Day pass which can be used on non-consecutive days! Your tips are (as always) wonderful!

Sun, Jul 24 2011 - 05:31 AM rating by bineba

Lovely report full of interesting facts and personal stories. Great pics, too.

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