After a very long day, we just had dinner and then went back to our hotel again as we have to wake up early for our sunrise date at Angkor Wat.
If your accommodation offers breakfast, you can ask them the night before to pack it for you so you can eat it while waiting for the sunrise.
Unfortunately, it was a cloudy day so the sun didn’t show itself over Angkor Wat. So if you really want to witness this, it’s best to go here during summer when there is least chance of raining.
After breakfast, Reah bought us to a modest Buddhist temple and school. We were able to speak with the man who converted himself to be a monk and dedicate his life to this place.
Some few minutes later, we bade him farewell and headed off to our first major trek of the day.
After presenting your Angkor Pass at the base, you can now proceed with the 1500m trek. For someone who does not regularly exercise, I felt that this has compensated for all those times I’ve been lazy to run and play badminton. It really is quite a trek especially when your tour guide leads you to the more difficult trail. Crazy, humorous Reah.
Kbal Spean is also referred to as the River with a Thousand Lingas. ‘Linga’ is a Sanskrit word which means “mark” and is often represented by a phallic symbol. I’m no expert in Hinduism but I’m sure the Shiva linga is more than just a structure resembling a phallus. It may mean great power or something that is very distinguished mark.
Few minutes later, we decided to go back down but Reah led us once more to the more adventurous route.
- Make sure you start off your day here as it’s bound to get really hot. That way, you’ll be out of here before noon.
- If you’ll ask me, you can skip this place but if you don’t mind the climb, go ahead and explore.
- Don’t forget to bring water and extra shirt.
The airconditioned van is a welcome refuge after that tiring climb. But we were already at our next destination before we can really bask in the comforts of our seats.
Among the temples we have visited, I find this temple the most charmingly exquisite. It’s another Hindu temple that has been standing since the 10th century and fondly referred to by the locals as the Pink Temple or Lady Temple.
What it lacks for in size, is very much compensated by its sheer exquisiteness and elaborate design. Come to think of it, its miniature size is actually a huge chunk of its charm.
It’s getting crowded again so we took that as our cue to proceed to our next destination.
This is a five-tiered Hindu temple built in the 10th century and dedicated to Shiva.
With the heat enjoying beating down our back, we headed off to our last stop.
Part of the Grand Circuit, this temple is built in the 12th century and translated as “sacred sword”. Much like Ta Prohm, this site has been left unrestored except for clearing the area and other maintenance works.
With one last look at Preah Khan, we hopped on the van and went back much earlier than we did the first day. That night however, it started to rain already. Though it didn’t stop us from dining over at Pub Street, it certainly was a prelude to what lies for us the following day.
If there was one thing that baffled me about this popular tourist destination, it’s the pronunciation. So I asked our tour guide, Reah and he said, it’s pronounced as “See-em Ree-ap” and is translated as ‘Siamese Defeated’. I’m not very familiar with their history but on a top level, it was on this land that Khmer (Cambodians) defeated the Siams (the Thais).
Allot at least 3-4 days to explore Siem Reap. So, to efficiently get around, it’s best to contact a trusty tour guide. Thanks to Liquiddruid for recommending Sam Tuktuk Tours. For budget travelers, traveling in a group will really cut the cost. I’ll post the expenses towards the end of this series.
First stop is the Visitor’s Center where we shall purchase the Angkor Pass. It’s impossible to finish the various circuits in one visit so getting the US$40 for a 3-day visit is the best option. Remember to carry this with you at all times as there are staff who will check this at the entrance.
As soon as we got our passes, we boarded the van once more and off we went to our first day of temple-hopping.
Prasat in Khmer means ‘temple’ and Bayon is the central temple in the ancient city of Angkor Thom.
We entered through the south gate; here you can opt to ride the elephant for a fee to tour the area. Riding an elephant never appealed to me. No, I’m not scared. I just feel a sense of pity for these symbols of royalty that were reduced to work for their food and care.
According to websites, there are 216 stone faces around Bayon Temple and it’s said to be a fusion of the images of Buddha and Jayavarman VII.
While having a tour guide gives a rather restrictive itinerary, they also provide efficiency in going around the temples. They even know the good spots for that touristy shot.
The grounds of the Bayon Temple is littered with tourists so getting a decent shot can be very stressful so I had to take a shot and crop it.
The next temple is a few meters of walking under the intense midday sun.
Preah Ngok Pagoda
Along the way, we passed by a Buddhist shrine most often just looked over by tourists. The diminutive shrine is almost disproportionate to the enormous Buddha that it houses.
A few meters ahead is Baphuon, a temple built on a rectangular sandstone and five levels high.
After scaling the steep steps of Prasat Baphuon, you will come across this structure. I’m unsure of the name of this one so I’ll leave it alone for now.
Further along, you will see the Royal Pools of the King, Queen and even the children’s pool; what’s left of it now is a dry bed soil littered with weeds.
Still along are some ruins and reminders of the ancient city of Angkor Thom. We rode the van again and some short distance later we arrive at another landmark.
There are five entrances to Angkor Thom and this is the second most used gateway to the Royal Square.
We went down the van for a short climb and took the chance to snap some photos from the top.
This temple was left unfinished for unknown reasons. It’s a very steep climb and because our stomachs are begging for some nourishment, we just climb some few steps and from this photo, you can see just how enormous this temple really is.
Finally, lunch! But so as not to crowd this post with food, I’ll make a separate one on the must-try food in this gorgeous province of Siem Reap.
With stomachs full, we braved the raging early afternoon sun, to head to the temple called the Jungle Temple or the Angelina Jolie temple because this is where Tomb Raider was shot.
As expected, the place is packed with tourists and with the intense heat, it’s a bit difficult to enjoy this fascinating temple. But as soon as you get used to it, you just wend your way and see for yourself just how beautiful this temple is in its state of ruins. With the enormous roots of the banyan trees growing atop structures or wedging itself between them.
After the usual rounds of taking photos, we finally escaped the Jungle Temple and enjoyed the space outside. Some few meters, Reah took us to a place that is littered with monkeys. I was hesitant to come close given that they can be quite rabid but our tour guide assured us that they are the tamed kind. And so we moved closer.
And off to our final temple for the day…
This is the only temple built in the Angkor area that is facing west because it is said to have been built as a funerary temple. The sun sets on the west, making this direction a symbolism for death.
One just cannot help but be in awe upon seeing the magnificence of this world wonder that has been standing since 1125. This was built at a time when machinery that we have today were nonexistent and yet they built a structure that is perfect in its composition and proportion.
To build a temple, people must first build a moat that will be used to transport the rocks from the mountains and then elephants are used to carry these to dry land. The physical labor alone that went into this grandiose structure is enough to amaze me.
The sheer magnitude and craftsmanship put into this magnificent monument will leave anyone gaping in amazement.
Just the perfect way to end the day.
MANILA, Philippines -- Stop the race.
After less than a day, a woman from Marikina was the first person to claim the Limited Edition Starbucks 2013 Planner after consuming 17 cups of coffee, 9 of which she didn't even like.
Rowena Garutayhon, a self-confessed coffee addict was the first Filipino to receive the much sought planner, on the day the promo started.
My birthday often comes and goes without much hoopla because I’m not a fan of huge celebrations. I like spending it with friends and family and this year, on my birthday, it’s exactly nine months; that’s 273 days since we lost our father last January 5.
I looked back at our photos and I realized I don’t have a lot of photos with my father (or with any of my family members) because most of the time, I’m the one behind the camera. But the rare times I have my picture with him or with the rest of the family, it’s because he orders my brother to take the camera from me so I can be in the photos as well. Feeling like a daddy’s girl!
If I can have one wish on my birthday, I wish I can spend it with my Tatay. It’s been nine months but it still feels raw. On Friday nights, I miss seeing him lying on the couch, watching RJ tv or falling asleep as he wait for me to come home from my usual (or not-so-usual ) nightouts with friends. I miss his text messages written in all caps, not because he’s mad but he just likes to text that way. It’s so easy to overlook the little things because you got so used to it and when it’s finally gone, you miss it and wish you could have more of those things that you so carelessly ignored.
It’s a different birthday. Our first fatherless birthday. Yup, my sister and brother are also October babies. Seems like they had us all timed just they wanted it.
In my grief, I’m still grateful. That I’m born with the parents that I have. They are so far from perfect but I love them to death. And my sister and brother and their little families too. And the friends and relatives who saw me from my pimply-faced teenage years to my less-repulsive face today. hahaha And those handful of people who saw me both at my best and worst, yet loved me anyway. Thank you. And know that though I may not always show it, I do love you. Always.
To everyone who greeted me, thank you for taking time out to write a little message for me. It’s the little things that make for a beautiful day. Cheers to all of us! ♥