Untitled by serenete
Because, if anything, it must be experienced at least once in your lifetime. Place is buzzing with history, and though I recommend a full tour of the temples (see bottom) – both small and grand circuit – choose them carefully, go for the ones you really really want to see, so you avoid them all being a massive jumble in your head :)
We bought two guidebooks on the start of our temple tour, and that was more than enough to explain much of what we wanted to know. We made it a point to see the major as well as some of the more intriguing minor temples, and took two days to do it (although the place sells 1-, 3- and 1-week passes). Remember to keep enough USD to pay your airport departure tax (a whopping $25 each!)
After awhile, as visitors to Europe will know, temple fatigue sets in! There is only about that much of 11th and 12th century buildings one’s mind can take in, unless you space it out over a long period of time. However, with Siem Reap, it’s really all about Angkor Wat and the other famous temples like Ta Prohm, Phnom Bakheng, Preah Khan, Banteay Srei (a favourite of many but not of mine) etc. This is not a shopping area, nightlife is confined to a couple of streets.
If you’re from a big city, Siem Reap will slow you down and you’ll learn, that less speed is better. People speak slower, walk slower, which initially took a bit of getting used to. But, I was expecting this anyway! A lot of dust, dirt roads, bring a mask. My nose was really suffering throughout. We went during off-peak season (May), so missed most of the hordes, which was very pleasant.
Because the roads are so narrow, cars dodge bikes, motorbikes at around 25 km/h. Seriously. After about two days I found myself startled when we sped up to about 30 km/h on the way to Banteay Srei!
note: please remember to look the proper way before crossing the road. coming from a left-hand-side of the road-driving country, we had to make sure we constantly reoriented ourselves. though, considering everyone drives so slowly it’s unlikely there’ll be accidents :P
And as mum was telling me, it’s impossible in a developed city, to have the luxury of spending 40-50 minutes lounging in the Blue Pumpkin (a must-visit – I have written an entry about their pommes frites-like french fries, refreshingly cool, peppermint-scented hand towels and impossibly comfy couches upstairs). If you go, tell Arnaud the owner that E-Ling sent you :)
Yes, less speed is better, a slower pace is necessary (certainly, if you have a fast-paced job like I have). You’ll realise this, even before you reluctantly get back on the plane, and have to deal with the noise and clutter of the developed nation. The sound of mobile phones ringing was a most unwelcome intrusion the moment I got back on the plane. It was alien, and I distrusted it.
list of temples to see – i’ll add the suggested order later
- angkor thom
- the bayon
- ta prohm
- banteay kdei
- banteay srei
- ta som
- neak pean
- angkor wat
- preah khan
- prasat kravan
- phnom bakheng