So here, finally, are some photos of temples and other excellent stuff that we saw during our six days in Siem Reap, Cambodia. Siem Reap is about a 5- to 6-hour bus ride north of Phnom Penh or, if you’re really fancy like us, a short 40-minute flight on Angkor Air (Cambodia’s flag carrier!). Would you like to see a map? I will show you a map.
Angkor Wat—the most famous of the temples in the area, and for good reason—is but one of 200+ temples, so there’s lots of exploring to do. While most of the famous and most worthwhile temples are quite close together, they’re too far to walk to, so we did all of our exploring and traveling via tuk-tuk. Here’s a map of the major temple sites, in French as a nod to their still-visible colonial influence.
You can see that Siem Reap, where all of the hotels, bars, and other fun stuff is, is at the bottom center. Here are some shots in and around Siem Reap:
Morning haze as seen from our hotel room.
Pub Street in Siem Reap has just about every kind of restaurant you could want, as well as fifty-cent Angkor Beer drafts. Oh, and a thousand drunk backpackers.
The Artisans d’Angkor are working to revive traditional crafts in danger of being lost. The silks are crazy cool.
The House of Peace Association, in addition to offering German classes, produces these amazing leather shadow puppets. We bought an elephant one, obviously.
Seriously, put some clothes on.
Imported from Thailand, this “foot massage” involves letting hundreds of fish nibble the dead skin off of your feet. Some find it kind of pleasant; others find it freaky and ticklish.
Raynham, Mass. to Siem Reap—how did this car end up here?
Here’s some of what we saw on the first day of temple-trekking:
Take a left here, please.
Bayon Temple is in the middle of Angkor Thom, the principal city complex during the height of the Angkor period. It features all of these subtle and, in the right conditions, spooky faces carved all around.
Look carefully and you’ll find many faces. See what I mean? Beautiful and a little spooky.
Ta Prohm is the temple made famous in Tomb Raider—it’s a striking mix of architecture, crumbling stone, and encroaching forest.
This is the famous shot, as evidenced by the rope visible in front. (There’s actually a little platform built here for people to stand on to get their picture taken without disturbing the tree roots.) Patience, combined with furious picture-taking, resulted in this shot miraculously unburdened by tourists.
That’s what it really looks like.
I don’t know why there isn’t a line to take this photo.
The big daddy: Angkor Wat. There is a gigantic moat around the entire complex; a stone “Rainbow Bridge” leads in from the west (just visible on the left). Angkor is distinctive, in fact, for facing west rather than east; there is no consensus as to why this was done, though there are several theories.
Its west-facing orientation (I guess that should be occidentation) means that the setting sun casts some pretty awesome light on the front.
Angkor Wat. Moonrise. Nice.
Palm tree. Sunset. Nice.
Those stone staircases are incredibly steep, and the steps are incredibly shallow. Perilous.
Angkor Wat has residents.
Well that’s just pretty.
Near the exit from the top level of Angkor Wat. It’s hot in Cambodia.
All of the massive tour groups (of which there are many) hustle through the temple itself, and don’t enter these vast and beautiful courtyards.
Requisite Angkor-reflection photo.
The postcard image, apart from that damn green tarp.
As seen from a helium balloon 15km west.
Another view of Angkor, at ¡Viva! Mexican restaurant in Siem Reap. (Note: best Mexican food we’ve had since September.)
And here’s some of what we saw on the second day.
Just some lovely countryside.
The view from Pre Rup.
Pre Rup. That’s some serious Ozymandias action.
Preah Ko. This red stone in the morning sun is pretty stunning.
Preah Khan, like the more famous Ta Prohm, is a partially ruined temple being encroached upon by the surrounding forest. Unlike Ta Prohm, it had basically no visitors.
See what I mean?
Apsara dancer carvings at Preah Khan.
Preah Khan. When this shot presents itself, one must take it.
Preah Khan: the entrance. Not a bad place to rest one’s feet.
Preah Khan: the entrance.
Despite what the name might suggest, this is run by a former Khmer Rouge soldier and now an NGO dedicated to removing the unexploded ordinance that is all over Cambodia.
Real, and troubling.
Banteay Srei is quite a trek from Siem Reap (it’s off the map, literally), but is worth the trip for its intricate carvings.
A carving at Banteay Srei.
OK, just so we’re clear.
I think a sign in Khmer would have been easier to understand.
A few 2x4s, some nails, and you got yerself a global view.
And on subsequent days:
Sanskrit inscription from the eighth century at Lolei Temple.
Kampung Phlok floating village, which we toured by (duh) boat. It’s like, errr, the Venice of Cambodia.
Had lunch here, but did not partake of the Snake Head Morel.
On the Tonle Sap lake.
Kampung Phlok, the “flooded forest.”
The flooded forest, again.
Kampung Phlok. The water is muddy brown, but the colors emerge elsewhere.Kampung Phlok
Kampung Phlok. Seriously, shouldn’t there be a National Geographic amateur photo contest award for this one?