RISE AND SHINE, Tomb Raider! On Saturday we woke at 4am to get to Angkor Wat by sunrise and somehow felt special, like we would be the only people getting up so early to see a pile of rocks in the morning sun.
Well, not exactly. Our Tuk Tuk driver took us to the entrance of the temple’s archeological park where we were met by tour buses, minivans, a thousand Tuk Tuks and a few poor souls who had the romantic idea to “do the temples by bicycles” in peace and solitude. Then there was the sea of tourists fluttering to get their tickets.
US$20 dollars per person per day. Gulp, pay. You can also get a 3-day pass for US$40 or a 7-day pass for US$60. We decided one day is enough for us, mainly due to budget, however we learned later, that after about 8 hours of temples in 37 degree heat, we will have seen enough.
Once we arrived at Angkor Wat, the sheer size is impressive. It is undoubtedly a place of history that you have to see to appreciate. No photo can capture the size and beauty of this temple.
We wander around the massive structure and it is impressive down to the last rock and pillar. They are all covered in detailed carvings. It is all too much to take in.
We agreed that some of the smaller temples, less overrun by tourists, were more enjoyable and also more interesting than the famous Angkor Wat.
Some of the highlights were Bayon inside Angkor Thom and Banteay Kdei. It looks like there’s an abundance of really cool temples further out, but we only did the small tour and one day. I believe we will be back to Siem Reap for holidays and might go to see more temples then.
We really wanted to see Ta Prohm. Parts of Tomb Raider was filmed there. This was ridiculous. There were so many tourists, that taking a photo of anything uninterrupted by tourists required master skill. People were literally falling over each other. We visited a smaller temple, with a similar layout last, Banteay Kdei, which had almost no one and it was a good way to finish our temple adventure.
This is a must do whilst in Siem Reap. Make sure you arrange a picnic with your guest house to take with you, drink plenty of water, deal with the sweat dripping on the inside of your sunglasses and please, please, please respect the temple etiquette and Don’t Be That Guy.