Having gone straight from work to the airport, arriving in Siem Reap at half past 11 in the evening, and still going to Pub Street to have a few drinks before getting some eye shut, we were scheduled to be picked up by our tour guide, Veasna, at 5am the next morning to catch the sunrise and let me tell you, it was beyond worth it. Angkor Wat
Regardless of the fact that we had less than two hours of sleep, we were still so excited to see all the temples scheduled for the day.Angkor Wat was completed in only 37 years by more or less 9,000 workers, though its completion was initially estimated by a modern engineer to have taken 300 years. We also learned from Veasna that the people who built this temple under Khmer King Suryavarman II’s reign weren’t paid to do so, but did such in service to the King. If there is one thing I can praise the Khmer Empire for, it was the people’s dedication and service to their King.
Back in the 12th century, there were four pools in the temple wherein one could wash off their sins before going into prayer.
It was such a magical experience for me to be roaming the grounds of the temple after dreaming of being minutes away from Angkor Wat several times for the past how-many-years. And to top of the whole Angkor Wat leg of the tour, we saw young monks and asked Veasna if it would be appropriate to ask for a photo. He asked them for us and they willingly agreed and even had one taken with their phone. We got to talk to them for a bit and when I said I was from the Philippines, they said they’ve heard of the country, but had no idea where it was! I learned later on that they don’t know what the outside world is like and are limited to only what they see and what is talked about. Veasna also said that they have a tad bit more freedom now, since they’re allowed to have cellphones! It’s was such an eye-opening experience getting to talk to these young monks who came all the way from the area near the Vietnam-Cambodia border.Luckily, Veasna knew the right route to take and the best time to visit Angkor Wat, since the whole time we were there, we pretty much had the whole place to ourselves (and a few others, of course)! But considering how big of an attraction Angkor Wat is to travelers from all over the world, avoiding the packs of tourists was very fortunate.
If the photo above doesn’t already give it away, this is where Lara Croft: Tomb Raider was filmed. This temple is popular for huge trees and tree roots sprawling throughout the grounds of Ta Prohm. Veasna said that all the temples we went to were abandoned and lost for years and had been destroyed/damaged by the jungle, but this is where I really felt the jungle had come to life and took charge. Wrapping up: Both Angkor Wat and Ta Prohm are the temples not to be missed when visiting Siem Reap, although I have to admit that I felt this way about all the other 11 temples we visited, but with limited time, these are the two temples that are a MUST-SEES, considering its popularity as one, being a UNESCO Heritage Site and the other, being a Hollywood-movie setting.