Visit to Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom

September 21, 2014

Angkor Wat




If you get up really early (say, 4am) you can get to Angkor Wat in time to see the sun rise; you and thousands of other travellers. We didn’t do this. Instead we arrived at a more civilised 8.30am, when the moat and temples seemed to be the same bronze colour…

Lotus bud temple Angkor Wat












…and the ruins were bathed in hazy sunshine.

Boy selling hats and postcards Angkor Wat
















As we made our way across the bridge which runs over the moat surrounding the temple we were accosted by this cheeky little boy, who was selling postcards and hats. I bought a packet of postcards (I didn’t haggle, I’m rubbish at haggling, and besides, he was just a kid) and he put on all his hats and gave me a big smile.

Angkor Wat ruins








And then it was in to Angkor Wat, which was built as a Hindu temple but later became a Buddhist temple. As you walk along past the ancient stone you can’t help noticing all the bullet holes, remnants of the Khmer Rouge occupation – a poignant reminder of Cambodia’s troubled past. Once inside it’s straight into Indiana Jones territory.

horse angkor wat






I met this horse dressed in traditional costume, who was very happy to have his forehead stroked. And then tried to eat my top (which was green).









The challenge at Angkor Wat is to climb as many levels as you possibly can. A few of us decided to force ourselves to climb the very narrow steps to the highest level – not easy in the blistering heat, we’d all run out of water by that point and although many scenes for Lara Croft: Tomb Raider were filmed in and around Angkor we couldn’t have looked less like Angelina Jolie if we’d tried. Coming down was even worse, because the steps were shaky, the rail narrow and the whole time you’re focused on not slipping. Glad I did it, wouldn’t do it again.

View from the highest level Angkor Wat




But the views from the top were absolutely stunning.

Siem Reap river






That afternoon we drove to Angkor Thom. The entrance is located on the banks of the Siem Reap river, which is wonderfully peaceful…

four-leaf clover Cambodia





and it’s here where we found actual four-leaf clovers. All my times to Ireland and I’ve never seen a four-leaf clover before, and there were just loads of them growing by the river, amazing. There MUST be something in that, right?

giant statues Angkor Thom









The entrance is lined with giant statues…

temple angkor thom
















…and there was a temple with a monk inside…

Bayon temple









…and then it was in to the ruins of the Bayon Temple. It really is stunning…

children playing Angkor Thom














…I spotted these two girls playing in the ruins….

Woman recycling Angkor Thom












…and outside this elderly lady, who collects bottles for recyling for a living. She has the most fabulous, dignified face, doesn’t she? She is half-smiling for the camera, which I love.

Our day at Angkor had been exhausting physically (I don’t think I’ve walked so far or climbed so many steps in my life) and full of unforgettable experiences. But it was only the start of our extraordinary journey through Cambodia.

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