For those who may have noticed, most of my travel trails covers a lot of UNESCO sites. I’m pretty sure you can never go wrong visiting one of their sites listed on their heritage list. In Cambodia, the Angkor Archaeological Park is not the sole UNESCO site in the area, nearby is the presence of a Great Lake, which helped the kingdom of Angkor Build their impressive structures and empire akin to how the Nile River build the Pyramids and the empire in Egypt. Tonle Sap, which means Large Fresh Water Lake, is the largest lake in South East Asia and was declared a UNESCO biosphere back in 1997. So a visit to Cambodia wouldn’t be complete without having visited this very important site and take a glimpse of life by this great lake.
After checking out the impressive Temple of Bayon, the exploration doesn’t end there. Angkor Thom, is a vast complex surrounded by high defensive walls with 5 gates, thus the name Thom, meaning Big. When Javayarman VII recaptured Angkorian empire from the Chams in 1181, he did some major empire wide constructions and made Angkor Thom as the new city capital. So aside from Bayon, there are other impressive structures just a walking distance from the center of the complex worth noting. So let’s take a brief look into some of them.
Entering the Great City at Angkor Thom’s South Gate
We started our first day as early as 5am in the morning. Since Angkor Wat has been getting a lot of tourist lately, I thought that we should avoid the crowds as much as possible. Especially those bus loads of tourist that can easily block your composition view. In this series, I won’t be delving much on the history of each temple as there are a lot of resources in the internet which has detailed information on each temple. What I would focus on more are my favorite temples and my impressions of them. And more importantly the photos. So here we go.
Our flight going to Siem Reap was around 10am that morning. What I really don’t like about the KL airport is that we have to drive around at least an hour just to get there from the city. We took an AeroBus service which is a Ringgit cheaper than AirAsia’s SkyBus. Fare is 8RM one way and 14RM round trip from KL Sentral. Some people go to Siem Reap via a 6 hours bus from Thailand crossing the border but I don’t want to waste that much time and I’ve heard a lot of Bus Scams there where the bus intentionally tire out their passengers and check them in on an affiliated (commissioned) hotel. So the 6 hours travel extends longer. However, the flight from KLIA to Siem Reap International Airport took only about 2 hours. And boy what greeted us on our arrival is one good looking airport.
The week that was has been a very enriching cultural experience. To be finally able to walk the old stone steps of Angkor was a dream come true. And to visit one of the major cities of South East Asia, Kuala Lumpur and experience its multi-cultural environment was rewarding as well. Allow me to share my brief impressions of both cities.
Let me say this first, that for a third world country, Siem Reap in Cambodia, is a really expensive place to visit. The cheapest food ranges from $2-3 USD. Relatively expensive compared to say Vietnam. Just walking the streets, you’d be hoarded by a slew of vendors and Tuk-tuk drivers that after a few days can get really annoying. Soon you’ll be able to memorize the phrases like “1 dollar!”, “Tuk-tuk sir!”, “Want something cold to drink sir? Something to eat?” But getting used to these nuances and actually dig deeper into their culture and crafts, you’ll find them to be very interesting.