Ask any traveler…and one of the locations in their top 10 will likely include a visit to Angkor Wat. What makes this location so special? We just returned from a visit to these historic Hindu and Buddhist temples, and trust us, there is plenty that makes this place worthy of anyone’s top 10 list. We came up with a list of our favorite things about visiting Angkor Wat. Enjoy!
1) Cambodian Ferraris (aka tuk tuks)- It is a little hokey, but we really enjoyed using the tuk tuks. Why you ask? First of all, we had a great driver. He offered ideas on what to see and when which proved very helpful. But our favorite part of the tuk tuk was the smells. Driving through the forests that surround the temples, we would catch the scent of flowers and trees. Tuk tuks offer cheap and easy transport between temples, lodging and foodstuffs.
2) The Pink Temple-One of our favorite temples wasn’t even on the Angkor Wat premises. The Pink temple or its formal name Banteay Srey Temple is a 45 min. drive by car away from Angkor Wat. What makes this temple special is the color of the sandstone. It is quite remarkable. We also found these ruins were in a little better shape than other temples in the area. The reliefs on the sculptures were much more complete.
3) The People-This should really be at the top of the list. The people of Cambodia are some of the most hospitable and generous we have come across. Life in Cambodia has been marked by political upheaval, economic turmoil and human atrocities that are legendary. This is a given. What was shocking to us, was the how despite this background, the people retain a positive if not even optimistic outlook on life. We miss our friends in Cambodia.
4) Amuk Soup-How can a soup make the top ten list? Easy. It is just that good! It was our first full day of touring the ruins and we were sweltering in the heat. We were already beat at mid day. Our trusty guide Mr. Thy, asked, “hungry?” Sheepishly we both nodded. He drove us to what looked like a nice restaurant, then we drove behind it and there was kind of a garage looking building. We were not impressed. Large fans were mounted on the walls and the tables looked a makeshift. As the adage goes, never judge a book by its cover. We had one of the best culinary experiences in all of our travels in South East Asia. It was here that we were introduced to Amuk Soup. The workingman’s soup is a delightful blend of shallots, lemongrass, garlic, and kaffir lime. It was the perfect pick me up. Try it!
5) The Tomb Raider Temple—Yes, we had to pay our homage to Angelina Jolie. The Tomb Raider Temple or Ta Prohm is located a few minutes away from the main Angkor Wat complex. It was built in the Khmer style in 1187 AD. What is most remarkable about this temple complex is how the jungle is taking over. Huge trees have invaded the temple and are sucking it down into the jungle. This temple makes for some amazing pictures.
6) Palm sugar-the second food item on the list! This one is pure sugar! One of our guides explained the process of collecting the nectar from the male spores, heating the sugar up, and putting it is the bite-sized forms. Palm sugar is a sweet treat between temples.
7) Cambodian Massage-How could we not mention one of our fave parts of visiting Cambodia? Two words: Cheap Massages. We use the word cheap in reference only to the price. The quality was above and beyond! We enjoyed our Cambodian massages more than our Thai ones!
8) Monk watching- We know, this one sounds just a little creepy. But we are a little weird…we live in Idaho we don’t have monks. We sad for an hour and just watched them interact. It was fascinating. The bright orange togas for the males and the flowing white robes of the females made for great pics.
9) Baby monkeys-How could this not make the list? Seriously!
10)Angkor Wat at Sunrise-I know, I know, everyone does this….and for good reason. The sunrise at this holy of holies is simply something to behold. The skyline is especially impressive preceding and during the rainy season. The clouds reflecting the light make for a few moments of magic. Making yourself get up at O’dark hundred in order to join with the throngs of camera wielding tourists can be a little discouraging. But the views are simply breathtaking. The pictures simply do not do it justice.
A word about getting to Angkor Wat. There is the hard way which is cheap, take a bus from Bangkok. Leave in the spring, you should get there by the fall. Or there is the easy way which will cost your first born, take Bangkok Air from Bangkok. The have a monopoly and get a king’s ransom for the 45 min. flight.
That’s the list! What an amazing/crazy place. Cambodia-the first reaction we received when we let our friends and family know we were headed to Cambodia was utter shock and horror! “You guys are going where?” Cambodia and Angkor Wat have become one of the Fighting Couple’s favorite places.
Ever been to Angkor Wat? What was your fave part?