Lewis remained sceptical about Cambodia. He said that he is never a fan of hot weather. It makes him uncomfortable. I am pretty fine with hot weather as I was born and raised in Malaysia.
Before we flew to Siem Reap, we had arranged for two private tours. If you are willing to spend a little bit more money and have everything arranged without cracking your head, you can book a tour via Tripadvisor.
We only stayed at Siem Reap for 4 days 3 nights. Hence, technically we have 2 full days to explore the town. When we first arrived at the Siem Reap airport, we were picked up by a tuk-tuk. I was kind of excited to ride on a tuk-tuk until the rain pitter-pattered on the canvas roof of the tuk-tuk. It was windy and the air was sandy other than the petrichor emanating from the dry soil. That was the time I started to shut up so that I wouldn’t eat all the dust and sand that tossed into the air by wind.
Lewis just sat beside me, almost with his eyes closed. I guess he was just enjoying the breeze and secretly praying for it not to rain. We were still quite a distance from the hotel.
If you want to make it a budget trip, you can actually buy the entrance ticket to Angkor temples for USD15. However, you may have to rent your own tuk-tuk so that you are able to travel from one temple to the other.
We first arrived at one of the most inspired monuments – Angkor Wat. It is the national symbol of Cambodia. If you have been to Cambodia, you will realise that there is no skyscraper in Siem Reap. That’s because the Cambodian believe that Angkor Wat is the mother of all temples in Siem Reap and it’s solemn and no building shall be built taller than Angkor Wat (well, we were being told by our tour guide, Tony).
Angkor Wat is famous for its beguiling apsaras (heavenly nymphs). More than 3000 apsaras are carved into the walls of Angkor Wat. None of us is afraid of height. Thus, we weren’t hesitating to climb to the top of Angkor Wat in order to have a good view. Well, simply unique I would say, from its size and scale to its symmetry. However, it took my breath away when I was walking down the staircases of Angkor Wat. Steep and Narrow.
Angkor Thom is another magnificent monument beside Angkor Wat. Its structures are completely different from Angkor Wat. Angkor Thom is known as “Great City” with many stone temples. Well, I think that was the only time we felt astonished looking at a vast area of ruins. There were gargantuan smiling faces of Avalokiteshvara. The feeling of strolling in Angkor Thom was different from climbing to the top of Angkor Wat. It was peaceful.
At the heart of Angkor Thom is the 12th century Bayon. Bayon temple is known as the temple of smiling gods. We saw towers everywhere at the Bayon temple and the four faces of each tower are pointing to four different directions. Personally, I like Bayon a lot due to its iconic visages which make it a good place to take amazing photos.
We came to another temple within Angkor Thom – Baphuon Temple. From far, it looks like a mountain. The closer we got to the temple, the clearer it looked like an enormous jigsaw puzzle of rock. Due to the scorching sun, we decided to just walk along the platform that leads us to Baphuon Temple.
Before we explored Ta Prohm, Tony told us that Ta Prohm is an ultimate Indiana Jones fantasy. Well, I am not a fan of Indiana Jones but the moment I stepped into Ta Prohm, I was amazed by the trees that grow within the walls of the temple and because of that, it makes the most atmospheric ruined temple unique. It was not easy to walk around in Ta Prohm as it was packed with tourists during the day. I would say Ta Prohm gave me a creeping feeling in the flesh. The entire temple seems to be swallowed by the jungle. Every wall of the temple is firmly locked by the roots of the trees.