History is never a favorite subject of mine. However, when I had no choice but to partake on history lessons, there are a few that I’ve found fascinating: Philippine History, French Revolution and The Age of Enlightenment for examples.
It was in my history subject though that I got my first glimpse of Angkor Wat through a video. I was fascinated instead of bored, a rare occurrence. This memory has lingered that for my first solo travel abroad there was never any doubt that I must go to Siem Reap first.
And there in this ancient world that my journey started. I’m not going to bore you with a history lesson. But if you are interested, then read it here.
I was in Siem Reap for almost a week but knowing my short attention span; I knew it would be a waste to invest in a three-day ticket. I opted for a one-day $20 pass instead.
Here are my favorites among the temples and what I did with my day pass.
- Sunrise at Siem Reap
After a night of slight debauchery, despite the two-hour sleep and a hangover, I’ve decided to toughen it up and not call off my appointment with the tuk-tuk driver, Mr. Hong. He was a bit shock to see my bedraggled condition when he came to pick me up at 4 a.m. When he asked what was wrong with me, I could see the disappointment in his eyes when I replied with, “Hangover.” He probably thought I’m different from other travelers because I am “same same”. He had no idea; I was more disappointed with myself. I don’t usually drink.
I vowed to see the sunrise at Angkor but decided to forgo this goal considering that I was not in a good state to join the throng wanting a glimpse also. A friend suggested doing what he did. If you go overboard the night before, it makes more sense to see the sunrise first before heading to bed.
I wasn’t that wise then. So I asked my driver to bring me somewhere where I could see the sunrise minus the crowd, provided of course that he would stop if I asked him to stop. I’ve never vomited due to a night of binge drinking in my life, but there is always a first time for everything.
So he brought me to this place. I forgot the name.
Indeed, there was no one, except for local children selling some souvenirs and trinkets. I said no to the souvenirs and yes to the coffee to help my queasy stomach. It did help a little. When a group of Korean tourists arrived, it was time for me to go to the next destination.
2. Ta Prohm –A.K.A. the “Tomb Raider Temple.”
The place is nearer to where I watched the sunrise; we came here next. Ta Prohm is one of the most famous temples due to the movie Tomb Raider, so I suggest to go early to have the place all to yourself. I went there too early; I felt a bit creeped out being there all by myself. But the fresh air and some walking somehow invigorated me a little. I wanted a picture of me taken with these gigantic trees, but no one was around. I saw a monk, despite my incapacitated state, I was not dumb enough to ask him to take my picture. So I just enjoyed the view.
Some parts of the temples were closed for repair while I was there, but there were still plenty of places to see.
3. Angkor Thom
A walled city, home of the spectacular Bayon temples and certainly my favorite. You could also see some monkeys who were quite docile and seemed to be busy scratching each other’s balls (I guess boys will be boys) to take notice of the few tourists loitering around. I was quite content watching them on the side while marveling at the beauty in front of me. Despite being used to the humid weather, I was a bit dehydrated by then. So bring plenty of bottled water. Ask your tuk-tuk driver nicely to buy it for you; it’s half the price for locals.
4. Angkor Wat
The last but never the least, the majestic Angkor Wat. We checked other temples first before coming here. By the time we arrived here, the heat of the sun was already unrelenting. I was no longer in a sunny disposition, but I figured it was my fault, so I did not plan on taking it out on anyone else. Well, that was the plan. There were plenty of people milling around; I was just taking all these extraordinary sights and was certainly impressed. However, there was a group of Chinese tourists who got angry because I passed by the door while they were taking several pictures of it. That would have been understandable except that I waited already for 15 minutes for them to finish. Typically, I would have just ignored the angry look and some Chinese angry comments I didn’t quite get. But my thoughts then were, “Today is not the best day to get on my nerves! For Goodness sake, how many pictures do you need of that one door?!”
I did not want to get into an argument I possibly would not be able to win. So while the group was taking selfies, I decided to stand and photobomb them; sticking my tongue out and making some peace sign (I know, so adult of me). After seeing the crazy look in my eyes, they decided to let it go, and we had a good laugh.
After Angkor Wat, It was too hot already that I opted to go back to my hostel. Mr. Hong was a bit surprised at how fast I finished everything. But then again, I’ve had a short attention span. But I certainly took the time to marvel at these spectacular sights, though.
I must say that despite the crowd and the heat; Angkor is beyond expectations. One must not miss it when traveling SouthEast Asia.