Angkor Wat? Siem Reap and one of the Seven Wonders of the World

Disclaimer: This post is mostly photos.

Ah Siem Reap! When we arrived following our uneventful and massively overpriced bus journey (of 11 hrs and two buses via Phnom Pehn) we were stuck with how different the vibe was in Siem Reap in comparison to Phnom Penh.

After 3 journeys criss-crossing the country by bus and numerous attempts I finally managed to get a photo of one of the stilt houses!
After 3 journeys criss-crossing the country by bus and numerous attempts I finally managed to get a decent photo of one of the stilt houses!
This was on the main road between Phnom Penh and Siem Reap. All dirt- they are in the process of doing all the roads here.
This was on the main road between Phnom Penh and Siem Reap. All dirt- they are in the process of doing all the roads here.

Where as you go to Phnom Penh to remember the horrors of what happened here some 40 years ago, Siem Reap is where the pride of the Khmer nation rests with the phenomenal Angkor Archaeological Park.

Siem Reap is very touristy which we had expected, the obvious lure being the temples. Due to the size of the site however they are super expensive to see. For a one day pass it’s $20 for a two or three day pass its $40 plus the tuk tuk to drive us there and between the temples.

Our passes
Our passes
Have you seen these people?
Have you seen these people?

Our first full day we eased in and had organised a tuk tuk with the guesthouse to do the Grand Circuit- the older temples of the main complex which included: Pre Rup, East Mebon, Ta Som (our favourite one of these ones), Neak Pean and Preah Khan. Here’s a few snaps from each temple. Its hard to really convey the size, scale and skill of the temples, better to visit them yourself!

Pre Rup:

Our first sneaky glimpse of Angkor Wat.
Our first sneaky glimpse of Angkor Wat.
Pre Rup- entrance.
Pre Rup- entrance.
Me at Pre Rup
Me at Pre Rup
Columns at Pre Rup
Columns at Pre Rup
Lines of columns at Pre Rup
Lines of columns at Pre Rup
Lizard sunning himself on the stones at Pre Rup
Lizard sunning himself on the stones at Pre Rup
Feet at Pre Rup (we hid in here from some hawkers till they moved on
Feet at Pre Rup (we hid in here from some hawkers till they moved on
Gav at the top left temple (see first Pre Rup photo)
Gav at the top left temple (see first Pre Rup photo)
Carving detail at Pre Rup
Carving detail at Pre Rup

East Mebon:

East Melbon, base of the Temple.
East Mebon, base of the Temple.
Guardian of the temple-East Melbon
Guardian of the temple-East Mebon
Elephant statue at East Melbon
Elephant statue at East Mebon
East Melbon.
East Mebon.
East Melbon
East Mebon
Top of East Melbon
Top of East Mebon
View from the top plateau of the temple.
View from the top plateau of the temple.

Ta Som:

Entrance to Ta Som  complex (temple side)
Entrance to Ta Som complex (temple side)
Ta Som Temple
Ta Som Temple
Close up of the main temple entrance
Close up of the main temple entrance
Carving at the Ta Som Temple.
Carving at the Ta Som Temple.
Damaged wall carving Ta Som.
Damaged wall carving Ta Som.
Me at Ta Som
Me at Ta Som
Chicken at Ta Som, there were frequently chickens at the temple.
Chicken at Ta Som, there were frequently chickens at the temples.
Inside Ta Som.
Inside Ta Som.
Wall carving and one of the many doors through the complex.
Wall carving and one of the many doors through the complex.
Me and a wall caving.
Me and a wall caving.
Wall carving at Ta Som.
Wall carving at Ta Som.
Back entrance, Ta Som.
Back entrance, Ta Som.
Face detail- back gate entrance.
Face detail- back gate entrance.
Me by the Fig tree over the back gate, Ta Som
Me by the Fig tree over the back gate, Ta Som
Carving at Ta Som.
Carving at Ta Som.
Entrance gate faces- Ta Som
Entrance gate faces- Ta Som

Neak Pean: 

End of dry season- the reservoir feeding Neak Pean was almost completely dry and had taken on a post apocalyptic look.
End of dry season- the reservoir feeding Neak Pean was almost completely dry and had taken on a post apocalyptic look.
Neak Pean,
Neak Pean, “Temple of entwined serpents”- bit low due to the dry season
Serpents at Neak Pean
Serpents at Neak Pean

Preah Khan:

Road over the moat- Naga being held by warriors- Preh Khan
Road over the moat- Naga being held by warriors- Preh Khan
Strong warrior!- Preh Khan
Strong warrior!- Preh Khan
Guy with a selfie stick- one of the millions....-Preah Khan
Guy with a selfie stick- one of the millions….-Preah Khan
Intrepid adventurers...
Intrepid adventurers…
Helicopter seed pod!
Helicopter seed pod!
Preah Khan- Fig on exterior wall (by moat)
Preah Khan- Fig on exterior wall (by moat)
Preah Khan- Fig on exterior wall (inside)
Preah Khan- Fig on exterior wall (inside)
Preah Khan
Preah Khan
Wall caving Preah Khan
Wall caving Preah Khan
Preah Khan- one of the corridors- the main temple has four corridors  pointing to the four compass points.
Preah Khan- one of the corridors- the main temple has four corridors pointing to the four compass points.

Preah Khan

Preah Khan

One of the original carvings at Preah  Khan
One of the original carvings at Preah Khan
This we are told was a fertility fountain and it used to house statues of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. The chamber had an open roof and rain water would fall on the statues and then would be drunk by women from the spout (carved with a yoni) to aid fertility (or get with baby as they like to say here).
This we are told was a fertility fountain and it used to house statues of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. The chamber had an open roof and rain water would fall on the statues and then would be drunk by women from the spout (carved with a yoni) to aid fertility (or get with baby as they like to say here).
 There was a time that the Khmer Kingdom changed from Buddhism to Hinduism before changing back to Buddhism. During the Hindu period the Buddhas were removed from the walls in numerous temples but here is an example from Preah Khan.
There was a time that the Khmer Kingdom changed from Buddhism to Hinduism before changing back to Buddhism. During the Hindu period the Buddhas were removed from the walls in numerous temples but here is an example from Preah Khan.

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One of the Queen's temples- she is still revered.
One of the Queen’s temples- she is still revered.

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One of the many dancer carvings in the Dancing Hall.
One of the many dancer carvings in the Dancing Hall.

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The Library at Preah Khan
The Library at Preah Khan

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The next day it was time for the big event- Sunrise at Angkor Wat. I have seen very few sunrises- normally because I love my sleep but it would take a fairly stellar one to beat this…..

So it begins- waliking into Angkor Wat
So it begins- waliking into Angkor Wat

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Once the sun was up, we headed outside to wait for the hoards of people to leave (busiest time is 5.30-7 am) and headed back in just after 7 am.

Beautiful apsara dancer carvings at main gate
Beautiful apsara dancer carvings at main gate
Naga at the start of the causeway to the central temple- one of the two libraries in the background
Naga at the start of the causeway to the central temple- one of the two libraries in the background
The causeway to the main complex.
The causeway to the main complex.
Monk detail inside main complex (we did see loads of monks in this area on our way out too)
Monk detail inside main complex (we did see loads of monks in this area on our way out too)
The central temple! Super steep steps and a nightmare in a long skirt.
The central temple! Super steep steps and a nightmare in a long skirt.
Complex carving in main temple
Complex carving in main temple
Believe it or not you can do a balloon ride over Angkor Wat. Its super expensive though but an option if you are feeling flash. We unfortunately aren't.
Believe it or not you can do a balloon ride over Angkor Wat. Its super expensive though but an option if you are feeling flash. We unfortunately aren’t.
Jungle.- Views from the top tower of the temple.
Jungle.- Views from the top tower of the temple.
Yes that is a smug look- it was a lovely view.
Yes that is a smug look- it was a lovely view.

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The central temple is ringed by four phenomenal galleries with amazing carvings- some have been restored but some are in a terrible condition. One of them detailed buddhist heaven, earth and hell.. see if you can spot them...
The central temple is ringed by four phenomenal galleries with amazing carvings- some have been restored but some are in a terrible condition. One of them detailed buddhist heaven, earth and hell.. see if you can spot them…

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Carving at the base of a column.
Carving at the base of a column.
Back of central complex. Around here is where you gather for the sunset we think.
Back of central complex. Around here is where you gather for the sunset we think.
This is what we saw as we zoomed past on a tuk tuk when we did the Grand Circuit. The monkey was less than impressed with his surroundings.
This is what we saw as we zoomed past on a tuk tuk when we did the Grand Circuit. The monkey was less than impressed with his surroundings.- the back gate to Angkor Wat.

After Angkor Wat it was a quick ride through the South Gate of Angkor Thom and to Bayon Temple. Bayon Temple is incredible- so many faces all different. Unfortunately we got it when it was crawling with tourists…between the people and their blasted selfie sticks it was difficult to enjoy the temple fully. One can imagine that it is a truly magically place in the silence and calm before the hoards of sightseers descend on the place. We did however get to spend a few moments in the central temple as we were appropriately dressed (knees and shoulders covered) unlike 90% of the people there.

South Gate into Angkor Thom Taking photos from a tuk tuk is surprisingly hard.
South Gate into Angkor Thom Taking photos from a tuk tuk is surprisingly hard.
Bayon Temple- I waited for 5 minutes for that chap to take his selfie- in the end I got bored waiting.
Bayon Temple- I waited for 5 minutes for that chap to take his selfie- in the end I got bored waiting.
Epic Bayon temple- shot taken over the heads of tourists. *sigh*
Epic Bayon temple- shot taken over the heads of tourists. *sigh*
Gav.
Gav.
More gorgeous stone work
More gorgeous stone work

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Serene.
Serene.

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They do elephant rides there too. Poor elephant.
They do elephant rides there too. Poor elephant.
Gav was very annoyed at me when I was taking this photo- can you tell? (we had to wait for tourists to move and it was hot)
Gav was very annoyed at me when I was taking this photo- can you tell? (we had to wait for tourists to move and it was hot)

After that it was to Central Angkor Thom – consisting of the Royal Palace, a few more temples and the Terraces of the Elephants and the Leaper King.

To the Palace
To the Palace
The pillar supported causeway.
The pillar supported causeway.
Central Palace - loads of folk couldn't get in as they had shoulders and knees exposed.
Central Palace – loads of folk couldn’t get in as they had shoulders and knees exposed.

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Back of the Palace- believe it or not there is a reclining Buddha in the wall. Look closely....
Back of the Palace- believe it or not there is a reclining Buddha in the wall. Look closely….
One of the smaller temples- it had a terrifingly steep staircase (only really terrifying due  to the long skirt again).
One of the smaller temples- it had a terrifingly steep staircase (only really terrifying due to the long skirt again).
Elephant detailing on side of smaller temple.
Elephant detailing on side of smaller temple.
View from the Terrace of the Leaper King.
View from the Terrace of the Leaper King.
Terrace of the Elephants
Terrace of the Elephants
Terrace of the Leaper King
Terrace of the Elephants
Terrace of the Leaper King
Terrace of the Elephants

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We spent a bit too long here I think (we had to stop for a drink in the middle- it was sooooo hot and we ran out) and out tuk tuk driver came looking for us! We were so glad to see him!

He whisked us away through the Victory Gate and on to Ta Keo.

Random buildings in Angkor Thom
Random buildings in Angkor Thom
Random buildings in Angkor Thom
Random buildings in Angkor Thom
Victory Gate complete with Tuk Tuk
Victory Gate complete with Tuk Tuk
Ruins everywhere.
Ruins everywhere.
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Ta Keo

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Somewhere in the distance is a mountain where all the stone that built the temple came from.
Somewhere in the distance is a mountain where all the stone that built the temple came from. A UNESCO guy at the top was telling us about the temple- and I got my first traveler bracelet
Ta Keo, they abandoned this before they finished. It got struck by lightening and they took this as a bad omen.
Ta Keo, they abandoned this before they finished. It got struck by lightening and they took this as a bad omen.
Gav in the library at Ta Keo
Gav in the library at Ta Keo
The chinese have been
The chinese have been “sympathetically” restoring this temple.

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So many temples! The next one was made famous by Tomb Raider- Ta Prohm. It is currently being restored by the Indian Government who had a whole host of stone masons on site. The gentle “tip, tip, tip” of many hammers was quite relaxing. We liked this temple. It was very cool and not as busy as we were expecting.

Ta Prohm, East Gate.
Ta Prohm, East Gate.

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Gav surveying natures destruction of the temple
Gav surveying natures destruction of the temple

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One of the famous trees!
One of the famous trees!
Its so big!
Its so big!
Part currently under restoration.
Part currently under restoration.
Believe or not this is the small part of the roots.
Believe or not this is the small part of the roots.
Believe or not this is the small part of the roots. Its being supported.
Believe or not this is the small part of the roots. Its being supported.
Naga.
Naga.
An incredibly massive tree!
An incredibly massive tree!

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A removed Buddha at Ta Prohm
A removed Buddha at Ta Prohm

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We waited here for 10 minutes while two lorries carrying stone came through the gate. There were literally inches either side.  We were lucky- there were no hawkers. We pitied the poor people trapped outside  waiting to get in.
We waited here for 10 minutes while two lorries carrying stone came through the gate. There were literally inches either side. We were lucky- there were no hawkers. We pitied the poor people trapped outside waiting to get in.

 Ok so on to the last two, we had been up since 4 am-it was now after 1 pm, we were glad to hear that we were on the last ones! So on to Banteay Kdei:

Entrance to Banteay Kdei (from inside the complex)
Entrance to Banteay Kdei (from inside the complex)

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Banteay Kdei
Banteay Kdei
Wall caving at  Banteay Kdei
Wall caving at Banteay Kdei

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Door guard
Door guard
Apsara dancer
Apsara dancer
Two dancers.
Two dancers.
Amorous chickens at Banteay Kdei.
Amorous chickens at Banteay Kdei.

Last but not least….Prasat Kravan (photos are from within the complex).

Presat Kravan- this is actually one of the older temples and completely different to the others as it is made out of brick. It was not built by any of the kings which also marks it as quite different. Not much is left but some impressive carvings.
Prasat Kravan- this is actually one of the older temples and completely different to the others as it is made out of brick. It was not built by any of the kings which also marks it as quite different. Not much is left but some impressive carvings.
Door carving
Door carving
Gav in one of the small temples containing 3 carvings of Vishnu.
Gav in one of the small temples containing 3 carvings of Vishnu.
A temple dedicated to Lakshimi
A temple dedicated to Lakshimi
Kid on a motorbike.
Kid on a motorbike.

So apart from the temples we managed to find some decent food (hurrah!) and mostly wandered around the markets and especially the night markets. $2 (30 min) foot massages- you can’t pass that up.

These are egg spring rolls and they are delicious!
These are egg spring rolls and they are delicious!
Pineapple curry and lemongrass and holy basil chicken- yum!
Pineapple curry and lemongrass and holy basil chicken- yum!
The sharing platter at the Blue Pumpkin- delicious but we were so ill after it! We hadn't had so much sugar in almost 2 months!
The sharing platter at the Blue Pumpkin- delicious but we were so ill after it! We hadn’t had so much sugar in almost 2 months!
Chill out space in the Blue Pumpkin (there wer couch beds upstairs)
Chill out space in the Blue Pumpkin (there were couch beds upstairs).

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Pub Street, Siem Reap- Stay close to your men ladies- Gav was offered "Boom Boom", weed, tour of the temples and a tuk tuk- all in one service. I was literally 2 steps away from him.
Pub Street, Siem Reap- Stay close to your men, ladies- Gav was offered “Boom Boom”, weed, tour of the temples and a tuk tuk- all in one service. I was literally 2 steps away from him.
Scented coconut-I was glad it was tiny, it tasted horrible, like it was gone off.
Scented coconut-I was glad it was tiny, it tasted horrible, like it was gone off.
This is an ice-cream walking stick. The stick tasted like cornflakes and in general it looked a bit rude. Was very nice though.
This is an ice-cream walking stick. The stick tasted like cornflakes and in general it looked a bit rude. Was very nice though.

I was also a bit ill (for two days we did very little other than get food)- the joys of travelling.

Anyway after 6 days in Siem Reap it was time to move on. Next stop the Thai capital of Bangkok!

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