To be honest, we really didn’t know much of Cambodian history prior to our visit, turbulent past filled with iron fist rulers, really brought country and people to their knees.
Regardless of all somehow people are proud, warm, honest, welcoming and positive even when talking about troublesome past were more then million people lost their lives to the MAD ruler and his “higher” communist cause.
Question is how to put 8000 years of turbulent past and multiple religions in one short blog, well there is no way for sure!! Instead of compressing time and doing impossible we will tell you what we saw and how it felt, and we think that our photos can help you catch the missing links.
Starting from Koh Pan Ghan Thailand – Taxi ride, Sea Speedboat, Bus, 2 planes, and another taxi ride, 14h later and we were in Siem Reap Cambodia, easy isn`t it? Don’t mind the first impression about bureaucrats in uniforms on Airport and their non-welcoming looks and treatment just go with the flow because this country has so much to offer.
We were riding along big Boulevard to our hotel and in one moment we realized that every single building is a hotel, 171k of residents and over 1000 hotels – well not so unexplored tourist destination.
We had just 2 hours of “sleep” and then it was time for unique experience – Angkor Wat sunrise.
The adventure starts at 04h AM, the car was waiting for us outside, first, stop tickets… It is surreal to see more than 1000 people standing in 4 longggg Ques in 04h AM.
Right about then the reality struck – we are going on the same place at the same time so “private tour” will not be so private at all. After 30 min of waiting, they took our photos and created the passes which you must carry all the time (seriously they are checking passes everywhere).
Short car ride in pitch black we were stuck in traffic and continued on foot, it is so dark that stars seem bright, our guide had a small lamp which helped us not to fall somewhere. We could see the glimpse of some lake and we stood there not knowing what is happening and what to expect.
The sky was becoming blood red with orange mixing together and then we saw it – main Angkor temple, lake with its mirror image, lotus flowers, and sunrise – MAGIC!!!
We had a feeling that we are stuck in the past watching old kings performing ancient rituals.
Only problem was when we turned around we were amazed by the number of people in our vicinity, really incredible crowd.
Thanks to our guide we started the tour in reverse order than standard tours go so we could have some “privacy” and a chance to take some photos.
Before communism, there were numerous periods of Hindu and Buddhist religion. Rulers in the past often forced people to switch religions and even pronounced themselves as gods. You can see many images and sculptures of Budhha, Vishna, Sheeva and numerous others Hindu gods and “godlike” rulers, interesting to see all mingled together in one hot pot.
In two-day, hectic tour we managed to visit multiple temples Angkor Wat, Ta Prohm, Bayon, Bap Huon, and hidden gem Beng Mealea. Also visited many small and uncharted temples forgotten in time in the middle of the jungle, surrounded by massive trees and wildlife in the deafening noise of parrot flocks, scenes from original Tomb Raider.
We recommend you visit floating village, about 30km from the city, it is like a time machine, the place where people live on the river and from the river, hardworking man and woman do their best by fishing and using flood planes to cultivate land and grow rice.
We want to tell you from our experience – don’t go to Cambodia and stay just for a few days, you won’t have time to do anything right, as Temples are massive and numerous (more than 1000 just in Angkor) scattered all over the country, nature is breathtaking, seaside is incredible.
There is more than 80 centuries of history there so trust us you need time to see it, feel it and to appreciate it!!