Angkor Temple-hopping in the summer heat: Day One

Angkor-wat: The Cheap Guide to Awesomeness! Part #2

Like I mentioned in my previous post on traveling overland from Bangkok to Siem Reap, we met a certain nice person/driver called Mr. Tha who promised us a two-day visit to the temples and a drop back to Poipet (border) for $80.

So, the first day, we were wide awake at 5am to see the sunrise at Angkor Wat. I was so excited I couldn’t sleep after 3am! Angkor Wat had been on my wishlist for five years now!

It was still dark when Mr. Tha’s brother, Mr. Tha-Ro arrived to pick us up. He must have been in his early twenties. Polite and obliging, just like his elder brother.

A 10min ride in the dark and we reached the gates where temple passes need to be made. We took a $40 pass for three days (there’s no two-day pass; one day pass is for $20). They took a quick photo and printed it on our pass. With it, we went to the huge complex that is Angkor.

While entering, a person who wanted us to go to his café after sunrise, suggested us that for a perfect view of the sunrise, we should be at the left-side steps after entering the main gate. That information was simply perfect. We saw the sunrise with none of the craziness of touristy crowds.

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Ours was a calm sunrise with just a dozen people and a perfect silhouette of the Angkor temple. In April, the sun rise time was clocked at 6:25am. It was a most perfect one too. (I was so happy and at peace!)

Now, I will not rant at how beautiful the temple is. Just go. Go inside the temple and see the sun rays hit the temple piers. Find your way through time. Though doors. Through centuries. Through you.

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Pose everywhere. Maybe donate while pretending to pray or buy fridge magnets at a slightly higher price from a 6 year old boy hoping that the money he ripped you off will be used in his education.

Do get lost in its wonder.

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Lost in translation
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Scorpion and Snake in a Whisk(ey)

At Angkor Wat, there are dozens of vendors selling Angkorian knick-knacks. If you know what to buy and negotiate, you may get a good deal. I bought 7 fridge magnets and 6multi-functional keychains (the ones with nail-cutter and bottle-opener) for $6. Also, look out for the local whisky with a snake and scorpion inside the bottle. Brave enough? Taste it, but we just took pictures. Even the seller said he doesn’t “drink that thing”!

Take a bite of the subs/sandwiches in front of the temple (or anywhere). Cambodians make really good bread (must be the French colonization influence here). Crisp at first but soft underneath. A heavy meaty 6-inch sub will cost you just a dollar!

After Angkor Wat, we went to see The Bayon. I loved the Bayon! How narcissistic can a king get! And how narcissistic of us clicking selfies with The Bayon! Check the wall at the gates of Bayon depicting Khmer life. It’s a Buddhist temple now and you may see a Buddha relic being prayed to.

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Bayon

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We went to Ta Prohm after Bayon. The famous “Tomb Raider/ Lara Croft temple”. It was fascinating but mostly because of the trees that look like an Alian vs. Predator sort-of-thing! We had a field day clicking pictures here. The tourists love this place!

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Ta Prohm

By the time we finished with Ta Prohm, it was already 10:30am and we were sweating like pigs. Thank you, Mr. Tha-Ro for the free ice-water!

So, the first day, we saw sunrise at Angkor Wat, the comples, The Bayon and Ta Phrom.

Travel Tips after first day of temple-hopping:

  1. Water, preferably ice-cold! Carry it!
  2. Sunscreen, Facial Tissues and hats… you will need these.
  3. Try the Angkor sandwiches for a dollar. Crunch, soft, yum!
  4. Don’t wait for the Lara-Croft famed tree-roots. There are lots of other roots as dramatic as that and with less tourists.
  5. India has a hand in Ta Prohm’s conservation! *proud Indian*
  6. For a quieter and better sunrise viewing spot, head to the steps at the left, right after entering the main gate of Angkor wat.
  7. Lastly and most importantly, don’t go back to your hotel after sunrise. Just continue temple-hopping after the sunrise until the sun becomes unbearable (we surrendered at 10:30am). Lesser tourists and less harsh sun. (You’re welcome!)

The next day was even better! Banteay Srei, Banteay Samre, Preah Roh and Banteay Kdei. Continue with our journey here!

For all the Khmer food we ate, salivate by clicking here!

For the overland border-crossing between Thailand and Cambodia, read here.

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