Travel Cambodia – Discovering Siem Reap and Angkor Wat

Angkor Thom in Cambodia

Angkor Thom in Cambodia

Travel Cambodia – Discovering Siem Reap and Angkor Wat

A Travelogue of a First Timer’s Visit to Siem Reap in December 2014

By Elizabeth von Pier

This article is a compilation of Elizabeth von Pier’s travelogues – thus, it is written in the format of a daily diary. Her travel partners on this trip were her sister and brother-in-law, Margaret “Midge” and Bill Frieswyk. They traveled to Siem Reap, Cambodia and Phuket, Thailand.

DAY 1

We have just arrived in Siem Reap, Cambodia. This is where the famous ancient temple, Angkor Wat, is located. Our ride in last night was unsettling. We were picked up at the airport by our guide and driven across very poor and dusty roads en route to our hotel. It was dark, hot and humid and we saw some pretty dreadful conditions – tiny tin-roofed shacks whose inhabitants had moved furniture outdoors so they could visit with neighbors and enjoy the relative “cool” of the night air, men sitting at plastic tables and chairs under bare light bulbs having a drink at the local bar, throngs of people riding motor scooters and driving three-wheeled open-air “taxis”, often on the wrong side of the road, and stalls selling clothing and trinkets and cooking and serving all manner food. The conditions were appalling and I was tired from our long day in transit. Typically, it’s not a good idea to arrive anywhere at night, and here even more so. I wanted to turn around and go back home. So I was very relieved when we entered the lovely 5-star Borei Angkor Resort and Spa, and were escorted to our rooms – what a little piece of paradise in this dismal town.

Ta Prohm Angkor Temple near Siem Reap (photo by WAVEJourney)

Ta Prohm Angkor Temple near Siem Reap (photo by WAVEJourney)

DAY 2

This morning our guide Kan picked us up bright and early and we drove out to see the Angkor temples including Angkor Thom, Ta Prohm, and Angkor Wat. The road was crowded with bicycles, mopeds, tour buses, vans, pedestrians, stray dogs, and monkeys. It was hot and dusty, and Kan and our driver made sure that we were comfortable, offering cold towels and water after every stop.

Angkor Thom, near Siem Reap, Cambodia (photo by WAVEJourney)

Angkor Thom, near Siem Reap, Cambodia (photo by WAVEJourney)

These old “cities” and temples are magnificent, dating back almost one thousand years. Kan told us stories and myths as we climbed onto the ruins, walked through the ancient grounds and stopped to admire intricate carvings in the stone. We learned that Angkor Wat has a volume of stones equaling that of one of the great pyramids in Egypt.

Angkor Wat in Cambodia (photo by WAVEJourney)

Angkor Wat in Cambodia (photo by WAVEJourney)

For lunch, Kan gave us a choice of having it back at the hotel or in a local place, and we decided to brave it and eat locally. This required a certain amount of courage because we had observed lots of skinny stray dogs and monkeys which feed the locals well, and Kan told us that fried spiders are very tasty. We chose carefully – boiled rice with steamed vegetables and peanuts.

After lunch, Bill asked to stop at one of the “killing fields” of the Khmer Rouge so we could pay homage to the thousands of people who had been slaughtered. This was a very somber experience. Then we ended our day by visiting a school for artisans and craftsmen where we watched young people painting on silk, carving stone and wood, and doing metal and tin-work.

This evening we headed out for a performance of traditional dances. Typically I shun shows like this where the audience is made up of other tourists. But, even so, it was a lovely show.

 

Click here to continue reading Day 3-5

 

IF YOU GO:

 

 

BIO

Elizabeth von Pier

Elizabeth von Pier

Elizabeth von Pier is a retired banker who has traveled extensively around the world. As she travels, she writes travelogues and sends them to friends and family as a way of keeping in touch with them and also as a way of recording her adventures. Ms. von Pier lives in Hingham, Massachusetts and has been published in TravelMag.co.uk and Journey Woman.

 

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