Watching Angkor Wat awakening at dawn is a very intense emotion.
It is deeply dark when you get there. You walk among other people who are trying to glimpse the beauty all around them.
You walk as if you were blindfolded: you need to trust and find the place you consider to be the right point and capture the awakening giant in the morning lights.
Little by little, the sun rises. It’s like if someone gently removed the blindfold. The light becomes more intense as the emotions you feel while staring this incredibly magic place.
Ankor Wat is spirituality, history, nature, architecture, solemnity, beauty.
It is a succession of temples and Buddha’s representations. The solemn statues were preserved through the time, as protected by the imposing temples overhead, where believers and tourists are used to light the incense, as symbol of devotion and praying.
The accurate details carved in the rock, the artistic lights and shadows: everything is an open air spiritual and historical path.
Angkor Wat is only a part of the many archeological sites in Siem Reap. Another marvelous place is the Bayon Temple, also known as “The Faces Temple”.
It is impossible not to feel observed by the 54 towers while visiting the site. There are 4 faces on every tower, one face on each side.
Looking at each one of them can be a game as you realize every face is different from each other, but they are all smiling: they represent the many and diverse Buddha’s smiles.
Ta Prohm is the exaltation of the bond between the man and the nature. The man’s works perfectly merge with the powerful but always accurate nature.
The trees and their roots naturally intertwine and settle in the temples, becoming a whole thing.
This is an evocative and picturesque place, invaded by the nature in a such extraordinary way to inspire myths and legends. Ta Prohm is also the set of Indiana Jones and Tomb Rider. This is the reason why it is also known as the “Tomb Rider Temple”.
Angkor Thom is on the way, passing through the historical door of the Khmer Empire, all along a bridge flanked by a sequence of Buddha’s statues looking at the river.
Here you can easily meet the elephants used to carry tourists around.
Lastly, Preah Khan is the place which is visited the least, so the ideal one to visit undisturbed among doors and paths made of grazed stones, well conserved by the time.
You need to climb a bit to get up to the top of the temple and have an overall view of the ruins. It is easier climbing up than getting down but it is worthy as you can visit the length and the breadth surrounded by the silence.
Cambodia will conquer your heart through its eternal beauties and unforgettable experiences.
Among these, the quick encounters with the buddhist monks. They normally pray in the temple or move to more isolated places to meditate. The buddhist monks cannot talk nor have physical contacts with women. You cannot look them straight into the eyes nor lightly touch them, yet they kindly share a moment with you and touch your heart with their full lightness.
INSTRUCTIONS FOR USE
The temples composing Siem Reap archeological complex are:
● Angkor Wat
● Angkor Thom
● Ta Prohm
● Preah Khan
● Sra Neak Poan
● Sra Srang
The biggest and most evocative temples are, in my opinion, the first 5. The remaining 2 can be quickly visited in the afternoon. Sra Srang is the recommended place where enjoying a beautiful sunset reflected on the water.
How long should I spend in Siem Reap?
The travel guides suggest from one day to one week with the cumulative tickets (per person with the respective ID photo) that allow to visit different place at any time.
The daily ticket costs $20 and it allows multiple entries during 24h.
I spent an entire day: from the dawn to the sunset. Starting the tour from Angkor Wat, you’ll have an entire day to visit (bike or tuk tuk) the multiple places with no rush, until the afternoon. You can also enjoy the sunset until the closing time (5:30pm/6:00pm).
N.B. Unfortunately Angkor Wat, mainly at dawn, but during the whole day, is packed of tourists 365 day a year, as the locals say.
Definitely, visiting Angkor Wat is an amazing experience, but just after the dawn, I strongly recommend you to go elsewhere and come back in the afternoon. You will be able to visit it more deeply, quietly and with less people around.