Sightseeing in Cambodia: Siem Reap and sunrise over Angkor Wat - Vikingess Voyages

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Sightseeing in Cambodia: Siem Reap and sunrise over Angkor Wat

After spending a couple of days in Cambodia´s capital Phnom Penh, me and Adaora took a local bus going north to the city Siem Reap, most known as the city next to Ankor Wat.
Statues inside Ankor Wat
Since we were traveling on a tight budged we decided to go by the cheapest bus available, a bus that only costed 6 dollars per person, and after another 5-6 hours on the road we arrived in Siem Reap.
Our impression of Phnom Penh had not been too good, but with Siem Reap Cambodia´s image improved for the both of us. The city was small, but the surrounding areas were clean and pretty, with small parks and statues along the road.
Of course it might be pointed out that Siem Reap is more of a tourist city, mainly built up around the ruins of Ankor Wat, which also contributes to a higher standard than for instance that of the Cambodian capital.

The ladies dancing in traditional Cambodian attire
A picture from the buffet
Anyway, for our first evening in Siem Reap we decided to have a finer dinner (all our dinners in Cambodia so far had costed us around 1 US dollar each time), so this evening we went to a place called Koulen Restaurant, where they had buffet combined with a traditional cambodian dance show.
The dance show and the dinner was quite alright, and I´m pretty sure we hadn´t eaten that much since our days in Taiwan.. Haha..
After the dance show we decided to go back to the hotel and take an early night, since we had great plans for the coming day: We wanted to see the sunrise over Angkor Wat.

First glimpse of Angkor Wat
We woke up at a quarter to five in the morning, and hurried out to the waiting tuk-tuk we had ordered a day in advance.  The trip to Angkor Wat did not take to long, but arriving at the entrance to the area we had to stand in line for a while before finally getting the tickets to get in. The security is quite strict; you get your photo taken which gets printed on the entrance ticket, and you have to show the ticket with your photo on it every time you enter a new temple. Not to mention the price to get in is 20 dollars for a one-day ticket so it is not exactly cheap. But Angkor Wat is a must-see, so I guess there is nothing to do about that..
After entering the area itself we spent another 5 minutes or so until the tuk-tuk stopped and we finally got of. From there it was a short walk across a stone bridge, interesting enough since we almost couldn´t see anything at all.

Even though the clock was not more than around 5:30 there were still a lot of people lined up to see the sunrise.
We were a bit unfortunate with the weather; it was a bit cloudy this morning so by the time we could see the sun it had already risen quite high.

A carving by one of the doors
After seeing the sunrise it was time to take a closer look at Angkor Wat itself, and we found both the beautiful architecture and the carvings in the walls quite interesting.

Although Angkor Wat is the most famous temple complex at the area, there are a lot of other smaller temples to see as well. Since we had reserved a tuk-tuk driver showing us around for the day it was easy to reach the other temples in the area as well, and our tuk-tuk driver also told us a bit about the history of the temples.

Picture from one of the smaller temples
There are a lot of smaller temples at Angkor, but not all of them are in good condition anymore as a result of among others the . However, there has been done a lot of reconstruction work in most of the temples. Here is one of the few Buddha statues in the area that hasn´t been decapitated.
Some of the temples are even famous for being overgrown by trees. Here is from the famous Ta Phrom.

The Ta Phrom temple was used as a location in the Tomb raider movie from  2001.

There is being done a lot to restore the temples at Angkor to make it look exactly like it was over thousand years ago.
The visit to Angkor Wat was amazing, and absolutely a highlight of our backpacking trip. 
We covered the most interesting parts of Angkor in about 6 hours, and instead of hanging around in the jungle the rest of the day we took a short trip to Siem Reap in the afternoon instead. The city is not that big, but it is cozy and the people are much friendlier than in Phnom Penh. They have a street there where you can get massages and stuff, and not to mention all the small stands along the road where you can try out the so-called "fish therapy" for as little as 2 dollars for 25 minutes (I got 20 minutes for 1 dollar though..!).
This is how it looks like to have a bunch of fishes sucking on your toes x)
Fish therapy means that you basically sit with your feet in the water, and the fish come and eat up the dead skin on your feet. It is an interesting thing to try; it kind of tickles quite a bit at first but you do get used to the sensation fairly quickly. The guy working there let me and Adaora try to stick our hands in there first, and that tickled even worse than my feet..! Haha..

The fish therapy was a really great experience, especially since I had seen the same thing being offered at the Spa World in Osaka at 1050 yen for 10 minutes (which equals around 25 dollars for 20 minutes)..

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About Anette
Anette came to Japan as an exchange student in 2010, met the love of her life and got stuck. From her base in Tokyo she writes about her experiences as a full-time worker in Tokyo and about her travels in Japan and abroad. She's a free-spirited adventurer who enjoys both the great outdoors and her urban lifestyle.

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Adventures ofAnette

A modern day shield-maiden who loves to explore the unbeaten paths of the world. From her base in Tokyo, Anette takes on both rural and urban challenges, and goes by the motto "No challenge too big, no adventure too small"!
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