Siem Reap – dust, tuktuk and Angkor what?!

Angkor – home of Cambodia’s most popular tourist attraction Angkor Wat. It was the capital city of the Khmer Empire, which ruled the region during at the time and contains hundreds of temples. A national pride to the people who are still struggling with the traumatic past. The most famous temple of the complex is Angkor Wat (Angkor what?!). Encompassing an area of around 200 hectares and originally a Hindu temple that was converted into a Buddhist temple in the 14th century, Angkor Wat is one of the largest religious monuments worldwide and part of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

With only 3.5h of sleep and meeting at 4:30 outside of the hostel – oh and without any coffee!!!! – some people from the hostel and me drove to Angkor by tuktuk. I didn’t expect it to be this cold, after walking around KL at 5am and for it to still be around 30°C. Spoiler alert: my cold came back accompanied by tonsillitis – Yay!

After buying the ticket (1 day for 37 USD, 3 days for 62) the driver took us to a place right in front of Angkor Wat temple to watch the sunrise. It was very crowded due to one of the two ponds being closed at the moment. Shortly after arriving and finding a good spot the sky started changing. Different shades of violet and pink suddenly turned the black sky into a colorful scenery. Unfortunately lots and lots of cameras and phones were blocking the view as they were all trying to get that perfect shot.

As I’d purchased the one day pass I tried to see as many temples as possible. It might have been the lack of sleep but I have trouble to remember them all by name. The ones I do remember 100% were: Bayon and Baphuon, Preah Khan, Prasat Neak Pean, Ta Phrom, Neak Poan, Ta Som, Banteay Srei and Pre Rup for sunset.

Bayon Temple

Though the sun was tirelessly shining on us and we walked around all day I must admit that at the end of the day I was exhausted but more than content to have been able to see this mystical historic beauty. I definitely recommend Angkor to everyone who’s planning on going to Cambodia! You won’t regret it.

Whenever you make your way to the temple you will always walk across a little market or food stand or people will try and sell you postcards and magnets. Unfortunately you’ll see a lot of small children, too. I know it’s what the parents do to get more money from tourists out of pity. But isn’t it a grotesque to walk around with your big cameras and the newest phones while you try to shake off barefoot 3- to 5-year-olds who want to sell you 10 postcards for 1$?! I knew these things would be presented to me and I know that it’s something you should ignore as a tourist in order to not encourage the children’s parents with their behavior but they are kids!! It’s tragic and the poverty shook me to the mark.

Same feeling occurred when seeing mine victims with amputated legs or arms crawling around the dirty streets to get some money or even when they were playing traditional music at the entrances of some of the temples. Knowing someone in the family with an amputation and working in the medical field it left me speechless how many people were affected by the war and how they still can’t afford any help or prosthetics. I guess these are the sides of a country that aren’t shiny and glorious but need to be mentioned as well as the beautiful picturesque ones.

Stay safe wherever you are and keep smiling. Life is good – god is good!

Yours always,

Elina Aria aka. ChickenMonkeyBackpacking

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