This is long overdue! My officemates and I took the Siem Reap trip end-November until early December, but I had very little downtime, ergo a post at the eleventh hour (hey, at least it’s still 2015). Anyway, it’s the annual company trip so I spent close to nothing here. Even so, I was dead set on pushing my own itinerary and seeing the Angkor Wat sunrise on November 30th because–bitchezzz, it’s my birthday.
I’m writing for the sake of simply chronicling the trip and somehow to help you explore the Angkor temples in the cheapest way possible (it’s not exactly the most relaxing, and based on the post-title you should know that we just biked some 20 kilometres at the expense of our legs and butts). So, let’s get down to the details.
Siem Reap! A small provincial town located northwest of Cambodia–about 9 hours by bus from the capital Phnom Penh and 4 hours from Bangkok. There are a lot of things that come cheap in this place: food, beer, massages, all sorts of Buddha replicas, art, entertainment. If you want to see temples galore then you have about 400 square kilometres to explore. If you have two days, that’s enough to see the centerpiece, Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom, and a few smaller ones around the area. Check out the map below.
The smaller temples (with less tourists) are found further away from Ta Prohm (the temple with lots of trees). On day one, take some time to see Angkor Wat, Bayon and Ta Prohm because the sheer volume of people can take away the joy of seeing the ruins. On day two, go wild and go temple running. But first, get a pass:
A two-/three-day ticket costs USD 40. You will pass by the ticketing / admission area on the way to Angkot Wat. Do not lose it because they will ask for it in every temple you get into. Renting a city bike (which is all you really need) costs USD 2 a day . Then start pedalling! Here’s the trekker Teddy enjoying the morning.
The whole of Angkor has a lot of stories to tell. You will see no inscriptions and more of epics rendered in carvings–from the Ramayana to your eventual descent to the 39th level of hell (lol just kidding, it’s reserved for some very special people in my life). Also, please, do not touch the carvings with your fucking filthy hands, do not lean on them if you’re trying to take a selfie. Just don’t.
Those who would be waking up early to see the sunrise, be warned and manage your expectations (yes, magpaka-account executive tayo dito)–it’s beautiful but the temple grounds can get super crowded. Actually, crowded is an understatement. Tangina, malala pa ‘to sa tadhana. Look here. It’s like a Wowoweee stampede waiting to happen.
From Angkor, ride up to the ancient city of Angkor Thom and see Prasat Bayon (or just Bayon). Be careful of the monkeys–they attack when agitated. You can ask my colleague G., how he managed to survive. Hahaha!
There are approximately 54 towers and over 2,000 (2,000!!!!) large faces in this temple, which was built about a century after Angkor Wat. Have you seen the movie If These Walls Could Talk? No? Would’ve been an excellent thriller if we change the storyline and put the setting at Angkor Thom. Haha!
This city also has a number of gates. On day one, we took the Victory Gate (if you are general and you come home victorious from battle, this is for you), on day two, we exited via the Death Gate (if you lose in their version of the GoT fighting pits, this is the place to go).
After Bayon, it’s going to be a series of small to medium temples beginning with Preah Khan, Neak Pean, so on and so forth because I could not pronounce them anymore.
In truth, they all look the same–they’re built with Buddhist and Hindu influences after all. The images are all muddled up in my head, but it was fun just walking around, wishing Jolie (aka Lara Croft) would come crashing down from the ceiling. In one of the temples though, we chanced upon a really good watercolor artist. I bought a piece from him at USD 15 and was surprised to see it marked November 30. It’s like having my name on it. Mine!
What seemed otherworldly (and memorable) to me is the Neak Pean temple (it means coiled serpents). Some internet sources say that this was one of Jayavarman VII’s ‘hospitals’ and it supposed to have some healing properties. Anyway, not taking a dip there. Not a chance. Hahaha!
As you can imagine, there’s enough room here for a legit Temple Run–and I did run while taking a video of Tedric but it’s too weird to post (I was breathing heavily and murmuring fuck this, fuck this). I stopped after a few meters because: 1. I’m exhausted, 2. might actually fall on the swamp, 3. geez, I don’t know, might get locked up abroad??
By the time we got to the fourth temple, my legs were already hurting and my butt sure felt like it was just one giant bruise. Kasing-purple ng hinog na caimito. Ganyan. The loop ends at the Ta Phrom temple, but since we’ve seen it at day one, we took a left already going to Charles de Gaulle St., on the way to the hotel.
Saw this cake when I entered the room and ignored it until I had a proper bath and a massage. Not sure if it’s from the hotel or from the boss. Well whatever. Hahah!