Day 3 at Cambodia: The Ancient Siem Reap!
Siem Reap with me is a mystical city with many old buildings. Because they import electricity from Thailand, many restaurants and cafes there cut the light and use candles at night instead to save cost. That doesn’t mean there aren’t things to do in Siem Reap at night. Moreover, it makes the city more mystical and beautiful when night comes.
Another interesting thing is, that houses and buildings in the city can’t be built over 5 floors following the rule because it’ll be higher than the temples.
And this is the list of places to visit in Siem Reap on my third day.
1. Phnom Bakheng
The ancient constructions and temples are located in the Angkor area. To get in, you have to buy a ticket which is like your ID to go to all of those places. The ticket price will depend on how many days you want to go there. After breakfast, I visited the first place Phnom Bakheng. This temple’s located high on a hill so it will take your time and energy to walk to. (It used to have elephants to take us there but now I don’t see one 😕).
Phnom Bakheng is currently on maintenance so there are many spots that I can get to for taking pictures.
2. Angkor Thom
The second construction I visited in the area is Angkor Thom, a unique place famous for Bayon. Before getting to the temple, I had to switch to a smaller carrier because the gate only fit an elephant size. In fact, the constructions were implemented with the help of elephants. Along the bridge, there are two sides of gods which represent the fight between good and bad in the past.
Bayon is placed right at the center of Angkor Thom. The temple is very famous with 54 4-faces Buddha which adds up to 216 smiling faces. Because all 4 sides of Bayon are quite similar, you should take care and remember the way to enter and out.
3. Ta Phrom
The third place I visited in the area is Ta Phrom, Siem Reap. This place is well-known with many large, old trees and also a place that used to be in the film ‘Tomb Raider’.
You can easily find many images of this dancer around Angkor of Siem Reap. It’s Apsara, a wonderful spirit that represents the Champa female. Furthermore, she is super at dancing. Many visitors touch the statue and wish to be more beautiful, that’s why you can see some statues at the temples are quite glossy. Yes, they are touched too much.
This is the tomb of a queen. But after Ta Phrom was opened for visitors, the body of the queen had been moved out.
You can see many holes in the wall, it used to have a lot of jewels there. In the story, to express the love for the queen when she was dead, the king wanted to add gems on the wall so when the sunrise, the sunlight would be reflected among the gems then brighten the whole tomb. Of course, when she was not there, all the gems were gotten out.
I hear those are Ruby and trust me, it has a lot of holes there meaning it used to have a lot of gems, OMG!
4. Tonlé Sap – the Great Lake of Siem Reap
I’ve gone to Tonlé Sap after Ta Phrom. It’s a super big lake that you can’t see the lakeshore and looks like a sea so many people call it the Great Lake. At first, it wasn’t a destination on my tour. However, I decided to go there after hearing the story told by the tour guide.
The Story of the Great Lake
It’s about the life of the locals at the lake in the past and current:
‘From 1975 to 1978, there was a war between Socialist Republic of Vietnam and Democratic Kampuchea. A lot of Vietnamese people had been killed under the policy of Khmer Rouge. Many people had to run away and find a place to hide and they have chosen the Great Lake. It was not only because the lake is very large but also there are forests around so it would be hard to find them.
Furthermore, from June, the water level in the lake increases significantly up to 9 meter so it’s ideal for fishes breeding. As a result, it’s ideal for fishing. Time pass, those people became more familiar with the lake, and they cannot get used to the modern world outside. Hence, they live there for generations, depend on catching fish, then sell in the market. That means their lives are quite difficult‘.
Humans of Tonlé Sap
As a result, on many tours when going to Siem Reap, the tour guide usually introduces this place and asks visitors if they want to go there and do charity. My tour guide also told me a story that one time he had met:
‘It was the time that he had taken a group to go there for charity. That group made a tank of mixed water and soap for kids to wash their hands after playing around and to eat. But then one kid was thirsty and drank that water because he thought it was fine’.
They are living so poor that they don’t know anything. Here are some pictures I took at that lake:
At the lake, they live in boat houses above the water or make some temporary houses by woodpiles. People will move houses based on the water level during the month.
These are the kids living on the lake. They always ask visitors for money or anything they can have. Actually, it’s what they do daily. I asked them to take some pictures, they had made a ‘V’ with their fingers for style. When I gave some candies to the girl in red, she said “I had candies, can you give them to that boy? She pointed to the boy in the right picture. Then I asked the boy to take him a picture, he said “I let you take my picture, do you have candies for me?”.
5. Angkor Wat – the Capital Temple
After visiting Tonlé Sap, my last destination is Angkor Wat. It’s the most significant construction in the Angkor area. Angkor Wat was built by a Khmer King firstly for the Hindu religion, but now it’s for Buddhism. In Khmer, Angkor Wat means ‘Capital Temple’. Therefore, it is chosen to be the symbol of Cambodia and appeared on the flag of this country.
Getting Around Angkor Wat
And here is some image around Angkor Wat when sundown.
Enjoy Your Trip to Siem Reap
It’s approximately 21 kilometers around the Angkor area. Therefore, if you are tired of going around Angkor, you may want to have a foot or body massage. Indeed, it is not hard to find massage stores in the night market at Siem Reap. Furthermore, there are many pubs and bars at the night market, even a pub road if you want to leave the ancient environment behind and enjoy the modern world in Siem Reap.
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