That feeling of walking through the airport, jumping on your plane, and heading out to the next country is a similar to feeling of the first time you set out on your journey. You’re leaving behind travel buddies and a place you had gotten a feel for for an entirely new place. It may be the same journey, but it’s the start of different adventure.
On this specific new adventure, I was leaving Thailand and heading for Cambodia. I had a flight from Chiang Mai, to Siem Reap, which was perfect because that’s where Angkor Wat was as well.
Siem Reap was a truly lovely city filled with so much culture and lovely people. For me, Thailand had been a trip of doing. Constantly. Seeing new places, doing new activities, always. It didn’t give me very much time to truly take a break and look around at the actual culture of the place.
However, in Cambodia, I was taking it quite slow, as I was by myself once again. I had time to walk around the city in any direction I pleased, for as long as I wanted. Where I stayed was right outside the alive night market of Siem Reap, and within walking distance of the old market as well as pub street.
The streets were so alive at night and filled with Cambodian voices of, “Hello Ladyyy!” “Tuk Tuk, Lady?” “Motorbike, lady?” Or “How much you pay?” I noticed right away Cambodia was much more pushy when it came to selling to tourists, and they were always trying to rip you off. In general, if they ask a price, it’s actually supposed to be half that price, or even less. So bargaining is a MUST here, unless you want to pay far above the real value of something.
The real treasure of Siem Reap, obviously, is Angkor Wat and around. There is a series of stunning, huge temples in Angkor, originally for Hinduism, but later converted to a buddhist temple. Angkor Wat itself is the largest religious complex in the world, and is about 900 years old.
You can get to Angkor by tuk tuk, but I opted for the more vigorous way of renting a bike and cycling around to the temples. It is definitely doable, but definitely exhausting and heated.
As I cycled, I saw a sign that led me down the road about 6 extra kilometers to the ticket booth, which ended up being the hardest part because it was so out of the way. I decided to get the 3 day ticket, since I wasn’t in a big rush, and had plans to get up for sunrise and go for sunset (which I didn’t do) as well for about 40USD.
After following traffic an a somewhat sketchy, busy, road, I finally arrived at Angkor. It was full of tourists, but it was still a magnificent sight to see. You walked across the moat on a bridge to the first building, which then led to many more smaller buildings surrounding. I got off the beaten track and went to the lower trails, not full of people, as I enjoy a view not blocked by others far more enjoyable. I came up on Angkor Wat and it really was as wonderful as everyone said. It had a kind of magic to it.
Inside, there were monks that you could donate to. I donated a few dollars and he gave me a bracelet, and then chanted and blessed me while chanting and flicking water on me as he did. I felt a sense of newness afterwards. I bowed and thanked him and continued onwards.
Little boy who gave me a moth as a present and to sell me some pineapple.
After Angkor, I headed to nearby Angkor Thom and the Baryon temple. I found these even more impressive than the popular Angkor Wat.
I came up upon it and rode across a bridge with what looked like guards with angry faces surrounding both sides and through a tunnel of 3 smiling faces.
As I came upon Bayon, there were monkeys lining the streets, and bulls grazing openly next to the road.
The ruins really were impressive. There were dozens of faces upon the ruins, giving it’s famous name of the smiling faces. It was a happy feeling being in such an interesting, different type of place.