Tag Archives: angkor wat

Part 5: Trees Galore!

Part 1: When You Wake Up at 3 AM for a 6 AM Flight…
Part 2: Only 18 Hours to Go
Part 3: How to See Angkor Wat
Part 4: The Many Faces of Bayon

The temples at Angkor Wat are awesome, but so are the trees. The unruly trees were one of my favorite things — overgrown roots scrambling over buildings and ruins. It is amazing the way nature perseveres undeterred by manmade objects.



The most famous trees in the Angkor complex are found at Ta Prom — famous for one thing – Angonlina Jolie filmed a scene from Tomb Raiders there. Its famous trees are a photographer’s dream. The gazillions of tourists sneaking into my photos are not…










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Part 4: The Many Faces of Bayon

Part 1: When You Wake Up at 3 AM for a 6 AM Flight…
Part 2: Only 18 Hours to Go
Part 3: How to See Angkor Wat

After breakfast, we headed to the ancient city of Angkor Thom. As we entered the city’s gate, I fell in love with the statues and their expressive faces.






As we approached Bayon, our driver stopped so I could take pictures of these guys. My opinion of these ostensibly cute creatures will change drastically as our trip continued, but that is a story for another blog post


Bayon is perhaps the second most famous temple in the Angkor complex. Located in the ancient city of Angkor Thom, Bayon was built in the late 12th or early 13th century and is famous for it many, massive faces jutting out from the temple towers.





This is supposed to be a famous picture. If you stand in exactly the right spot you can capture two Buddha noses touching. Not sure I do it justice, but it seems like an obligatory tourist thing, so here you go:


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Part 3: How to See Angkor Wat

Part 1: When You Wake Up at 3 AM for a 6 AM Flight…
Part 2: Only 18 Hours to Go

For many, seeing Angkor Wat is a once-in-a-lifetime trip. And so, I wanted to make sure we did it right.

I did a lot of research on the best way to see Angkor Wat: Bicycle, tuk-tuk (a motorcycle pulling a carriage), or a personal driver in an air-conditioned Camry. Bicycle was obviously the cheapest and tuk-tuk seemed kind of adventurous, but in the end, my Western sensibilities prevailed and I had the hotel hire a driver and guide for $35 apiece for our for first day in Angkor Wat

And boy, am I glad I did. The guide was nice but not essential. He helped us navigate the sprawling complex that is the Angkor temples and provided us with historical information we never would have known. But the driver… the driver was a lifesaver.

When we woke up at 4:30 a.m. (yes, 4:30 a.m.) it was a balmy 70 degrees outside, but in three short hours the sun was up and hot. The air-conditioned car with a fresh supply of ice-cold bottled water was amazing. Best decision EVER.

You can probably find a driver for cheaper, but having the hotel do it was easier than reading a gazillion reviews on Trip Advisor. Besides, by American standards, $35 for a private driver is a steal.

Waking up at 4:30 a.m. was not as painful as it sounds. It was only 4:30 p.m. in New York, and our bodies were still more or less on eastern standard time. And there is something special about seeing one of the most famous structures in the world appear under the dawn’s early light. I highly recommend it.






After I snapped a couple hundred pictures (probably not an exaggeration), we ventured into Angkor Wat itself. And while The Boyfriend listened to our guide explain the history of the massive temple, I snapped away.


The carvings are extremely intricate and impressive. I wish I could tell you what they all mean, but like I said, I was doing more snapping than listening.






The complex is huge, and the best way to appreciate its hugeness is to walk around the entire grounds from top to bottom as exhausting as it is.


We meandered about as we waited for the entrance to the third and final level to open at 7:45 a.m.



After that, it was time to start climbing. As tiring as it was to scrambled up these modern makeshift steps, imagine was it was like for the people of old to climb up the incredibly steep stone steps built into the temple structure.


The views from the top of Angkor Wat were incredible.




By then, it was 8:30 a.m. already and we had been up for a good four hours. We were hot and hungry and asked the guide to drive us back to hotel for a quick breakfast. Walking back through the front of Angkor Wat there were a few more fascinating sights along the way:






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Change of Plans…

After weeks of trying to squeeze in a side trip to Angkor Wat from Bangkok, we reached a decision point. Either give up on visiting one of the most impressive religious sites in the world or bite the bullet and change the trip. It simply didn’t make sense to go from Bangkok to Siem Reap to Hong Kong because of the limited number of flights out of Siem Reap. So we bit the bullet.

We added two days to our trip and will now be flying from New York City to San Francisco (United), to Seoul (Asiana) to Siem Reap (Asiana). It is a long trip but it will all be in business class and we were able to squeeze the entire trip to Cambodia into a single award for a mere 60,000 United miles per person and a total of $57.60 in fees. Since I do not have status with United we had to pay a $200 change fee ($100 per person) but I put the charge on The Boyfriend’s Platinum Amex (after designating United as his airline of choice) and am hoping Amex will pick up the tab.

Our new trip to Asia:

Trip to Asia2

Our entire trip from start to finish:

Trip to Asia and back2

We plan to spend two days in Angkor Wat, which people say is not enough but it will have to do. We will hop a short hour-long flight to Bangkok, spend four days in Thailand and then off to Hong Kong.

We are two weeks away and I am psyched!


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