Hey all! I arrived in Cambodia three nights ago and so far my time here has been off to a pretty good start. Of course my flight got delayed from Hanoi so I didn’t arrive until well into the evening, which meant I didn’t have time to do anything the first night. The first full day I had I decided to rent a bicycle and go check out Angkor Wat and some of the other temples in the area. I’m very happy I decided to rent a bike because I felt like I could see more of my surroundings and could stop where ever I wanted since I wasn’t with a tour. Now my day started off a bit rocky because they only have one place to by tickets and it’s pretty far away from where the entrances to the park are. So naturally I biked to the entrance and then had to bike all the way to the ticket office and back. On my way back to the temples I decided to stop at a place on the side of the road for lunch since I had gotten such a late start and was already hungry. I got a traditional Cambodian beef noodle soup, which even though I specified for it to be without coriander, it had coriander in it.
After lunch I got back on the bike and made my way to the temples. First up was Angkor Wat, which is the biggest temple there. It was pretty incredible to see and it’s amazing to think that humans made this huge temple.
After Angkor Wat I went to Bayon (in the Angkor Thom area), Ta Keo, Ta Phrohm and Banteay Kdei. All of the temples were pretty incredible in their own ways. Bayon from far away seems like a bunch of rock mountains but close up you can see the rocks are all engraved with faces and other designs. Ta Keo had some really steep steps but I still went all the way to the top. Ta Phrohm had trees growing within the temple, which was pretty cool. Banteay Kdei was a really long temple that felt like it just kept going and going. Now I should mention at this point that by the time I made it to Ta Phrohm it was pouring down rain. I decided that since I was going to have to bike home in the rain I might was well just get drenched earlier and see some more temples. So I got completely soaked, but I felt like it was worth it. It had stopped raining by the time I got to Banteay Kdei, which was nice.
After the temples I went back to the hostel to change and grabbed some dinner with people from my hostel. I had Lok lak, which is a traditional Cambodian dish. It was delicious, especially after a full day of biking around. After dinner we went to check out the night markets, which at this point were pretty standard for SE Asia night markets.
Yesterday I got up early to go check out this temple, Beng Mealea, that was a little over an hour away from the hostel. I’m really glad we went early because there were almost no other people there and one of the people who was there informed us that the temple had been destroyed with dynamite by tomb raiders. It was a really cool temple even if it was mostly rock piles. It’s also sad to think that while humans can create such wonderful structures, we can also destroy them for silly reasons.
After the temple I took the rest of the day to relax, do some research for grad school labs and hang by the pool. In the evening I went with some people from the hostel for dinner, which was yummy and also ended up getting fried ice cream rolls. Why they called them “fried” I don’t really know because they’re definitely frozen.
All in all my time in Siem Reap was great. I’m currently on a bus heading to Kampong Cham, which isn’t normally a big tourist destination. It’s pretty exciting to be going somewhere off the beaten track. Keep an eye out for my next post!