I took some time to publish posts on the Angkor Archeological Complex which is the most amazing part of our visit to Cambodia. But, there are other aspects worth noting.
You’ll recall that the illustrious Mr Tay brought us into Cambodia as a clandestine border crossing from Vietnam (here). Ok, so it was a little bit dramatic, but as Colleen noted, ‘It definitely felt like a human smuggling operation or something equally shady. In truth, it was just a more expensive logistics arrangement commonly used by dozens of people daily.’
With a three day pass to the Angkor Complex you have 10 days to use it or lose it. We went on the 25th, 28th and the 30th of September. To avoid being over ‘Wat’ I recommend taking breaks in-between visits. A ‘wat’ is a temple so for us Western / Christian types just think Churches.
Our Tuk-tuk driver, Mr Davudthny Vun <firstname.lastname@example.org> helped shape our final route which includes a visit to the Cambodian Landmine Museum, and a visit to Banteay Srey which is approximately 37km from Siam Reap. The return trip includes a stop at Banteay Saimre. We had the option to carry on to see the Rolous Group to the South East of Siam Reap but declined…Too many temples makes Rob a dull boy.
The Landmine Museum provides a stark reminder of the horrors that Cambodia faced from the Vietnam War and also the brutal regime of Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge.
We did the twenty-six kilometre Grand Circuit on our second day into the ancient Khmer temples.
The main lesson from the visit was that although Hindu and Buddhist beliefs lived in harmony, particularly under Jayavarman VII, the reality is that subsequent Kings had differing views and many religious artefacts were destroyed.
King Jayavarman VII built the temple in dedication to his mother. Construction began in 1186 CE. The temple honours Prajnaparamita (the goddess of wisdom in Mahayana Buddhism). We know the temple from the Angelina Jolie movie Tomb Raider.
Iconic Shots from Tomb Raider
The tree with the roots growing in the temple is the main image which makes people think Ta Prohm. The other, the image of a Buddha surrounded by tree roots, is also popular. hmm.. are we sure about that second one? Read on to find out!
Angkor Thom, the last capital of the Khmer Empire, built by Jayavarman VII in the late twelfth century. He was the greatest of the Khmer Kings.
Surrounded by a moat and walls the remains of Angkor Thom demonstrate a powerful empire. The remains include the temple of Bayon, the Baphuon, the Terrace of the Elephants, and the Terrace of the Leper King.
I’ll be honest. I had never heard of Angkor Wat or Siem Reap until we started planning this trip. Colleen gave me snippets of information but it didn’t register. Folks would say ‘ So you’re going to Angkor Wat’ when I mentioned Cambodia. I nodded sagely, ‘Of course’.
It was a tough day of leisure. Well, we had some chores. Like getting the laundry done and finding an ATM and some toiletries. But overall, it was another day off from touring around. We also fit in haircuts, some foot massage, and pedicures. It seems like we spent money all day long.
So how do you get from Vietnam to Cambodia? More importantly, how do you get from a remote island in the South of Vietnam to the Capital City of Cambodia? Google of course!
This led to Trip Advisor and a strong recommendation to stop at the Oasis bar in Ha Tien, Vietnam. What? Wait? What does a bar have to do with getting to Cambodia? Aside from some good food – the best guacamole in Vietnam, a BLT sandwich and a Sausage and Onion Sandwich.