Siem Reap - Day 103

Trip Start Jan 31, 2008
Trip End Ongoing

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Where I stayed
Green Town Guesthouse

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Thursday, June 5, 2008

Today is the day I've been looking forward too for quiet a while. The Angkor Wat temples and ruins! One of the 7 man-made wonders of the world.
Woke up at 5am after only 4 hours of sleep to watch the sunrise at Angkor Wat the most famous of the Khmer temples. The tuk-tuk picked us up from the guesthouse a little after 5.15am. We arrived at Angkor Wat at 5.30am for a cloudy sunrise. Walked through the impressive west gate and Angkor Wat was right in front of me in the early morning sun, with palm trees swaying in the foreground. Impressive sight, just as I imagined. Inside the complex, a myriad of corridors and open pathways with exquisite stone carving everywhere. The amount of skilled man-power needed to build such a structure must of been astronomical. Thousands of craftsman must have been working on the temple for years. Absolutely amazing piece of architecture!
After spending a couple of hours at Angkor Wat we moved onto Angkor Thom which was the old Khmer capital. First we headed for the Bayon temple which is more ornate than Angkor Wat, but it looks more ancient due to it's dilapidated state. It's also a lot smaller in size, but equally impressive. Wondered around the rest of the Ankgor Thom buildings for another 2 hours within the ancient walled city. Went for a short walk in the forest and you stumble across temples and ruins everywhere you look. A truly special place!
Then back in the tuk-tuk to visit Ta Prohm which is an amazing collection of buildings situated in think jungle. Roots of big old trees growing over the stone structures gives the place a lost world feel if you can forget about the hordes of tourists. This site must be similar in appearance to the temples the first foreigners discovered a couple of hundred years ago. I think most of the Angkor ruins would have looked like this before the restoration and conservation work was implemented.
I was really surprised how well maintained the Angkor site is. Good roads connecting the temples, well sign posted and nice loo's. At least you can see where the $20 entrance fee is going. Don't mind paying the money if you know it's going to good use and I think it defiantly is here.
By mid afternoon I started feeling a little templed out, so decided to head back to Siem Reap. A truly amazing place and well worth it's status as one of the seven wonders of the world, but there's only so many temples you can visit in one day, and 8 hours was enough for me after such an early start.
Drinks and dinner in a bar/restaurant in central Siem Reap this evening. Quite a nice place to go out. Went back to the guesthouse early as I have long bus journey tomorrow to Phnom Pehn. Had my sensible head on tonight.
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