Siem Reap



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In the north west of the country, for over six hundred years, a mighty civilisation held sway. Then one day, everybody left and it was forgotten about until some machete wielding Frenchmen stumbled upon the Khmer temples of Angkor. These days Siem Reap has developed as a tourist town and gateway to the nearby attractions.

We spent two nights in Siem Reap, allowing us a full day touring the temples with our personal guide and tuk-tuk. We took in Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom, the Bayon and Ta Prohm amongst others. The area is very big and you would be doing very well to walk around the whole place! It is a UNESCO world heritage site, and a single day's entry was 20 US dollars.


Angkor Wat

Perhaps the most iconic view of Angkor, this is the main complex of Angkor Wat, the largest and one of the better preserved temples. Many people get up before dawn to see the sun rise and reveal the temple from the darkness. We, on the other hand, were sleeping off the night before.


There were plenty of monkeys wandering about the place, but don't get too close!

Monkeyin' around

Angkor Wat

On the path up to the main entrance of Angkor Wat, having walked over the causeway across the moat which surrounds the whole temple. The moat however is mostly dry.


Good views from the top of Angkor Wat, across the lush jungle. Unfortunately we didn't have time to jump in a balloon.

Angkor Wat

Window

A nicely framed shot through one of the high-level windows in Angkor Wat.


Angkor Wat is particularly well known for the hundreds of metres of bas reliefs about its galleries, depicting scenes from Hindu battles and mythology.

Carvings

Window

Detail of a window in Angkor Wat, with its stone framework mostly intact.


The entrance to the city of Angkor Thom, complete with the ubiquitous smiling face above the arch.

Angkor Thom

Tree

An interesting method was being employed to keep this tree vertical. It was also a handy spot for washing one's motorbike.


Within Angkor Thom, the Bayon looks somewhat messy from a distance. It was used during the filming of "Tomb Raider", which introduced Angelina Jolie to South-East Asia and led her to start adopting the kids here and in Vietnam.

Bayon

Smilin' geezers

It remains something of a mystery who or what these faces represent, but there are over two hundred of them in the Bayon, all smiling serenely and mysteriously...like they know something we don't...


Phimeanakas, also in Angkor Thom, built over a thousand years ago, makes a nice photo!

Elephant temple

Temple

Banteay Kdei, newer than the Phimeanakas but over eight hundred years old nonetheless, is surrounded by water carpeted in green algae.


Getting the hard sales talk from the locals... Whose nose is that in the top right?

Career in sales

Ta Phrom

I was most interested in the temple of Ta Prohm, it being the one which has had very little effort applied to extract it from the jungle. The trees find the stonework very useful for rooting into, spectacularly pushing the temple to pieces.


Part of the fascination with Ta Prohm is the feeling you get when wandering around like you were the first person to discover it - the next Indiana Jones!

Overgrown

Jungle

This tree is like some sort of alien monster, reaching and snaking through the temple.


Back in the town of Siem Reap, there was not a lot of action happening. This is the imaginatively named "Pub Street", lined with restaurants and bars, and yes, even pubs. We had an excellent dinner at a Khmer place called "Family Restaurant".

Pub street

Angkor what?

One of the most popular bars on Pub Street, the "Angkor What?", where each visitor signs their name on the wall. We found some space near the toilets to scratch our spidery initials, but such is our luck that the next day when we came back they were building a brick partition across it. Fortunately, the pub itself was still open!


The road to the airport, our introduction to Cambodia when we flew in from Bangkok. This is us leaving, moments before we had been overtaken by a very important looking motorcade, a series of blacked out SUVs flanked by gun-toting soldiers waving us minions into the gutter. I wonder who that could have been?

Airport road

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