The highlight of my April 2012 trip to Siem Reap, Cambodia, was the day I spent at Angkor Wat, the world’s largest religious complex. Mere words cannot describe this temple and – much like Arizona’s Grand Canyon – photographs do little to convey the size of this place. On the afternoon of my planned visit, my guesthouse arranged a tuk-tuk driver to take me to the Archaeological Park headquarters so that I could purchase my pass. He then took me to the western causeway and I was able to enter the temple for free in time to view the sunset. My spirits weren’t dampened by a brief rainshower as I picked my way through some rather dark passageways.
I returned brutally early the following morning for the sunrise which was truly spectacular. It wasn’t terribly crowded either, either watching the sunrise with other early-bird photographers or exploring the runs themselves. For the latter I was lucky in that most of the tour groups headed back into Siem Reap for breakfast and I managed to stay ahead of them for most of the remainder of the day.
However, I had to wade through hordes of Chinese tourists on my way back through the ruins of Ta Prohm as I’d neglected to ask my tuk-tuk driver to meet me at the exit. They were pushing each other out of the way for photos in front of prime spots and climbing on the fragile ruins despite the signs warning not to do this. And why do they always have to shout at each other?! Anyway, it was just a brief distraction to an otherwise wonderful day.
When I return (possibly in 2015 or 2016), I will opt for the three-day pass rather than the one-day ticket and spend some time exploring the more remote ruins.
The postcard above pictures the Angkor Wat sunrise. It became a bit creased on the way home, unfortunately!
Angkor Wat, Cambodia
Dawn at Angkor Wat
Photo ©2001 by Kraig Lieb
©2012 Purple Moon Publications
One aspect of visiting this UNESCO World Heritage Site is that there are A LOT of souvenir hawkers patrolling the grounds. Some were quite pushy, particularly at Angkor Wat itself. A fair number of these were children, some of which sat with me at the Bayon for a conversation in English. Their English ability was actually better than many of my students back home in Thailand! One young boy offered to give me a set of ten Angkor Wat postcards in exchange for his “lesson” but I insisted on giving him one U.S. dollar, which I believe is the regular price anyway…
The postcards pictured below are all from the ten-pack I purchased at the Bayon, Most of these show profiles of Angkor Wat and have a brief identifying label on the picture side. The address side has a small rectangle for the stamp, lines for the address and a “Photo © Chan Dara” notice. I present them without further commentary: