This was one of the days that I was looking forward to. We’re finally going to see what we’ve come to Cambodia for, the great Angkor Wat and its surrounding temples.
We woke up early so that we can see the much talked about sunrise view of the Angkor Wat. Smarty picked us up at around 5AM. When we got to the park we bought our entry pass at the ticket booth. I got the 3-day pass which costs $40 good for 3 consecutive days. The others who’re going to Phnom Penh got the 1-day pass which costs $20.
We headed straight to the Angkor Wat Temple. You can already see the light from the sun peaking through the clouds. As soon as we were at the drop-off point we ran for the temple. We were running for about 5 to 10 minutes while avoiding the vendors trying to sell us guides, souvenirs, and breakfast options.
When we reached the area the place was packed with tourists. you could hardly find a place with a good vantage point of the sunrise. But I did try my best to look around and squeeze in to the crowd until I finally got this shot. So this isn’t the entire Angkor Wat. Up until we reached the walls of the Angkor Wat Temple I always thought that that was Angkor Wat but upon entering the walls I realized it was only half of it and that just really amazed me.
A lot of vendors are selling paintings in the area but there are only a few who are making them on the spot just like this guy. I bought one colored painting from him. I couldn’t really choose so I just told him I’ll buy whichever he likes best. 🙂
We stayed around the area to do some photo ops. We got this beautiful group shot against the temple. We had breakfast near the Angkor Wat temple. There are a lot of restaurants within the Angkor Wat. I’m not sure if they only offer breakfast or if they serve lunch and snacks as well.
After eating we left Angkor Wat and headed for Angkor Thom which was the last capital of the Khmer Empire. It was established by King Jayavarman VII.
This is the South Gate of Angkor Thom. Peaceful, before the hustle and bustle of the day.
Smarty dropped us off at the Bayon Temple. Bayon is originally a Mahayana Buddhist temple. After the death of the Jayavarman VII, it was altered to be a Hindu temple because of the new king and then altered again to be a Theravada Buddhist temple. The Japanese government has a team who is leading the conservation and restoration of the temple.
We got a guide to help us know more about the area. In case you didn’t book a guide prior to your visit there are a lot of them around the popular temples offering their services.
I’m a bit guilty of not listening to the guide. I was preoccupied by the landscape. I was just so inspired during that time that I focused more on photography rather on learning more about the history.
Let’s all marvel at the Bayon temple together.
We planned on going to the parking area to meet with Smarty but we passed by a temple. Curious, we headed there instead. It was the Baphuon Temple. Somehow the structure reminded me of the Mayan Temple, Chichen Itza.
On the path to the temple
Our group imitating Naga, the seven headed snake
It was probably noon. The sun was up and it was just so hot in Cambodia. During that time fanning yourself just doesn’t work anymore. We decided not to climb up the temple because of the heat and just head to the parking so that we can get some air conditioning in the van. But we got lost on our way out of the Baphuon Temple area.
Lost but we still have time to take pictures.
By the time we reach Smarty we were so tired and thirsty and hot. Smarty was thoughtful enough to have cold water waiting for us in the van. We were gone for so long he circled the Bayon temple a couple of times to look for us. Fortunately we found our way back to him.
Before having lunch we visited one more temple, Preah Kahn. It was built by King Jayavarman VII to honor his father. Smarty was able to accompany us in this temple. Our stay there was brief since we were all tired from all the walking when we were lost.
After our siesta we went to Ta Prohm, the infamous Tomb Raider temple. It’s one of the more unique temples due to the trees growing out of the ruins. It’s like nature is conquering the man made structure.
The final part of our day is seeing the sunset from Phnom Bakheng which a very famous sunset spot in Angkor Park. We were planning to ride the elephants to get to the temple but we were told that we’ll probably miss the sunset because of the queue for the elephant ride. Some of us opted to wait and the other made the short trek to the temple. I was part of the group that waited for the elephants and we did miss the sunset.
When we got to the top of the hill where the temple was situated, there was a long queue to enter the temple. Only a limited number of people are allowed to enter the Phnom Bakheng temple at a time for safety reasons. Our friends who went there first were waiting in the line.
We opted to skip the line and wait by the viewing deck near the temple which also had a view of the sunset.
It was a jam packed day but nevertheless fun. It was our last tour day together because some of us will be leaving for Phnom Penh the next day. They took a bus that night to Phnom Penh via Giant Ibis.
- Ian Clarito – featured image
- Nat Chu – some of the pictures from Baphuon Temple