Good morning Siem Reap. Let’s start the day with a heavy rain outside there. Yap, since last night, the rain had been pouring down endlessly. I quite concerned about my today schedule. The tuktuk driver supposed to pick me up at 8 AM, now is 8.30 AM and the rain hadn’t stopped yet. I started to freak out because this was my last day in Siem Reap and tomorrow i’d be heading to Bangkok. It would be ridiculous if I have to skip the Angkor Wat tour, the only reason why I visit Cambodia. I looked outside the gate with an umbrella and see no present of any Tuktuk yet. I am afraid if the driver’s plan cancelled by the rain. Therefore, i came to the receptionist and saw if i could rent bike. The receptionist told me that i could rent the bike USD 1 for a day.
Waiting for the rain stopped, I sat in the dining room and enjoying my breakfast. I could see a lot of foreigner who also had their breakfast. I then wondered, this hostel takes like 30 minutes from Le Pub and Night Market as tourist attraction central, but the guests that i saw this morning even filled almost the entire dining room. Looks like these guests prefer the place with less noise.
Finally, at 9 AM, the rain stopped. When I ride my bike going outside the gate, suddenly somebody called me. It’s the Tuktuk driver. He came! The driver said sorry for being late–of course i tolerate the heavy rain as his reason. Well, since the Tuktuk came, I returned the bike and got into the Tuktuk.
On the way to the Angkor, I was sort of thinking, what happens with Omar. We have made the deal to meet up at the entrance at 8 AM, while it was almost 9 AM. Will he still wait for me there and grumbling? As guessed, Omar wasn’t there. Looks like he has waited too long and got inside already. After taking photo and buying one day tour for USD 20, The Tuktuk continued to run smoothly, passed through the smooth asphalt road with very tranquil green forest on each side. While i saw some other Tuktuk with two or three passengers, I was hoping that i can meet Omar somewhere later and do the Tuktuk race, one on one.
Me, occupied the Tuktuk, alone
Angkor Wat complex was a historical site where lied a great 3,4 miles Hindu temple complex built by Suryavarman II in the early 12th century as the king’s state temple and capital city. Angkor area was, as researched, the largest preindustrial city with elaborated infrastructure system. To put respect toward the temple, the government of Cambodia Here is the map of the entire complex:
And this day, since i only had limited time, I only did the small tour to some major temple. First, the driver dropped me at the Angkor Wat, the major and the biggest temple in the complex. I had to walk a looong-looooong way to get into the main entrace from the parking lot, passing the brick path away which bridging a big canal. And I have to walk again few meters through the yard to get into the temple, then still another walking around the temple (I cant imagine the passenger who rides the bike to go here and must walk along these way, then ride again to go to another temple and repeat the same thing).
Angkor Wat temple was built as Suryavarman II’s private temple and his mausoleum. This temple’s wall is built approximately 2,4 km on each side with the essence on Hindu cosmology. The main tower symbolizes Meru mountain, the sanctuary of the God and Goddesses, the outer wall symbolizes mountains which cover the world, the big canal symbolizes the wide ocean. We can see some reliefs of Hindu myth on each side of the temple.
The entrance and the canal
Library inside the temple yard
The Angkor Wat temple
The reliefs on the wall
After an exhausting walk around the temple, I got back to the parking lot and found the Tuktuk to take me to the next stop, Bayon, or the Smiling faces temple. This temple is called so because here we can see over 214 massive gigantic smiling stone faces. This is the only temple among dozens temple in Angkor sites which was built as a Mahayana Budhist shrine dedicated to the Budha. And there are two versions about the reflection of smiling face it self. First, it is said to be the depiction of king Jayavarman VII, the king who initiated the building of the temple. Second, it is reflects the smile of Bodhisatva, goddess of compassion.
While i was taking some photos, in vague I heard my name was called. I turned around and saw Omar was there in black neat shirt (i wonder, what he was thinking, wore a black neat shirt in the middle of this sunny day, at the open air temple). I thought I will not gonna meet him after all,–well, Angkor Site is way way vast, Omar might have been somewhere else but here. He told me that he was so sorry for breaking the appointment due to the late wake up (at ten) and he went directly to Bayon, skipping Angkor Wat in order to expect my present would be here still. Well thanks God, I am still here, lols.
The third stop is Elephant Terrace, the place where our driver parked the Tuktuk. We had to walk like 15 minutes to get there. And while walking, Omar told me a lot about his experience after we separated in Ho Chi Minh. When I headed to Nha Trang and Hanoi, he went to Phnom Penh and Sihanouk Village. We took pictures for a while in Elephant terrace before going to the parking lot and looking for our Tuktuk. Elephant terrace used to be stage of grand audience hall for reviewing stand in any public ceremony, including for greeting the victorious returning army.
Next is Ta Phrom temple. Maybe you guys are quite familiar with the scenery. Yep, this was the place where Angelina Jolie took the scene of Tomb Raider movie. We do remember when Angie ran through the culverts, played hide and seek with the enemy. Ta Phrom is anothe great and famous temple in Angkor Wat complex. Not only because it has been the place setting of Tomb Raider movie, but the roots phenomenon also makes this temple epic.
The trees that grows massively and some roots spread in some parts of the ruin was the result of the abandonment after the fall of Khmer empire in 17th century, while the restoration is held in the early 21st century. Ta Phrom (ancestor Brahma) was built as the monestary of the king (called Rajavihara) in honor of king Jayavarman VII’s family, which image represents the personification of wisdom (Prajnaparamita)
Omar and the giant tree
Before continuing to other temple, I and Omar went to a restaurant to have lunch. On different Tuktuk, we did the race along the way. When we shouted one another like crazy mates from one Tuktuk to another Tuktuk, some other Tuktuk passengers who passed us stared at us and gave a weird look. At the first time we did not realize that we became the spotlight on the road. But two Australian girls whom we shared the table with in the restaurant told us.
When waiting for the order, the Australian girls asked us. “Do two of you hire two different Tuktuk?”
I and Omar stared one another. Omar then explained, “It was too late for us to hire only one Tuktuk for two. We just chatted last night. I just knew that both of us are in Siem Reap and will visit Angkor Wat the day after. And unfortunately, when I offered to share Tuk-tuk that i hire, Hendra already hires Tuktuk too. Therefore, we plan to do the Tuktuk race today, lols.”
So, the Australian girls and maybe the other tourists we met thought that we purposefully hire two Tuktuk and show off. Of course, I and Omar laugh out loud when knowing about it.
The conversation kept on going while we enjoyed our lunch. And when we finished it, four of us said good bye to each other and continued our tour. I and Omar visited other temples (like two or three, I didn’t really remember) which name I also did not notice. The day was reaching to the dusk and the sky was getting reddish. Omar decided to have a visit Angkor Wat temple as the last stop, while me, because i have already visited it earlier, we separated and I went back to the hostel. We planned to meet each other tonight at Le Pub.
Well, Angkor Wat, a huge and spacious temple, I can tell, and i do mean it when i say huge and spacious. One world heritage that is well preserved and really shows its greatness to everyone who pay a visit. If you have more time and curiosity in history, I believe this site will fulfill your passion. Some tips maybe, to be considered:
1. Bring small towel, extra drinking water and wear something light. The weather is so hot and humid. You also need to do a lot of walk.
2. Ignore little kids who offers you souvenir or grab your attention by explaining history of a temple you are visiting. Be mean by ignoring them (cold face and pretending they are not there) is necessary, because they are told to be pushy in selling their goods when they find out that you pay even a little attention to them.
3. If you plan to hire a bike, make sure that you have enough rest a night before. I mean it, the complex is way-way so wide, you should consider about the distance from temple to temple, the distance from parking lot to the main temple, and the width of the temple to walk around.