We flew to Siem Reap from Bangkok and when we started our decent all I could see was water. It looked like a huge swamp. I immediately got afraid of Malaria and all the diseases that I was going to get. Just so you know I did not get any diseases and was so elated to experience this amazing place! Once we arrived at the airport, I could see that in fact there was land in Siem Reap. We arrived during the Monsoon season and they had been having so much rain that there was heavy flooding in Siem Reap. As we drove through the small town there was water covering all the main streets. The first thing that hit me was that everyone was either riding a bicycle or a motorcycle and on some of the motorcycles there were three or even four people on board. There were very few cars. After checking in to our lovely hotel, the Borei Angkor Resort and Spa, we left by tuk tuk to visit Angkor Wat. A tuk tuk is a motorcycle with a cart on the back that seats two to four people. This is the
most common mode of transportation here. Angkor Wat was built during the reign of King Suryavarman II in the early 12th century, it is constructed following the model of the temple mountain symbolizing the Mount Meru, home of the gods. Inside the temple, the walls are covered with stone carvings and bas-reliefs depicting Hindu mythology and the wars Suryavarman II fought during his reign. Moreover, Angkor Wat is well known for the more than 2,000 Apsara dancers decorating the temple. Construction is thought to have taken around thirty years of intensive labor. Today, Angkor Wat is figured on Cambodia's national flag as the temple symbolizes the soul of the Khmer people. The Temple is on a terrace that is raised higher than the city. It is made up of three rectangular Galleries rising to a central tower, each level is higher than the last. The outer gallery, the central gallery and the inner gallery. At the centre of the temple stands a quincunx of towers. Unlike most Angkor temples, Angkor Wat is orientated to the west; scholars disagree as to the significance
of this. As well as for the grandeur and harmony of the architecture, the temple is admired for its extensive bas-reliefs and for the numerous devatas adorning its walls.
We visited Angkor Wat late in the day and stayed through sunset. This is such a spiritual place and I loved the fact that we were basically there alone at the most amazing part of the temples called The Bayon Temple.
The giant stone faces are amazing as are the other carvings which are so intricate. These images depict real life scenes from the historical sea battle between the Khmer and Cham, to carvings of everyday life such as market scenes, cockfights, and child birth. The other area that I loved was called Ta Prohm. This area was covered by the jungle and the temples still have trees growing right into them. It is amazing to see the huge roots of the trees covering the temple. We went back the next morning at Sunrise and visited
the main temple and watched the sun come up and the reflection of the temple in the water that surrounds it.
The other highlight of Siem Reap was visiting the Buddhist Monks and being blessed by them. We brought gifts of food and water and presented them with this. The Monks only eat two meals a day and only eat what is provided to them. After the blessing the head monk did a special blessing to each of us to ask for safe travels for our group. What I took away from Siem Reap was that the temples are an incredible accomplishment and Siem Reap is such a spiritual place to visit and a once in a lifetime experience!