I had to get up early in order to put some food in my belly prior to meeting my tour guide at 7:30am. I got down to the hotel restaurant at about 7 am, finding it swarming with people who had a similar plan as I did.
The Tara Angkor Hotel included a breakfast buffet with the price of the room. There was a wide variety of food on offer from Western staples like pancakes and made to order omelets to Chinese and Asian dishes I didn’t quite recognize. The food was decent, but not great, but more than sufficient to stuff my face and give me plenty of fuel for the day’s adventures. I opted for pancakes, bacon, fried eggs, toast, OJ, and a couple cups of coffee. It was a hardy breakfast.
I met my guide in the lobby along with the owner Sam. I recognized Sam from his photos on his website, Angkor Guide Sam. It was a good thing too, as there were lots of other guides in the lobby that morning, all wearing the same uniform. I had prebooked my guide online before stepping foot on the plane and I was glad I didn’t have to figure it out when I got there. You can read his reviews on Trip Advisor.
We hopped in Chaaya’s SUV and headed off down the road to pickup my Angkor Park pass. I got a three day pass for $40, which was one more than I needed, but they don’t sell two day passes. Next it was back in the SUV to head over to the Angkor Temples, first stop Angkor Wat.
Chaaya began filling me in right away and he seemed a very pleasant fellow with very good English. I thought I was comprehending much of what he told me early on, but as our time together pressed on there was so much information and history to take in, I’m afraid I didn’t absorb all he had to tell me, but I learned a lot.
Built in the 12th century, Angkor Wat is the largest and one of the last temples built. You cross over a moat that surrounds the temple by foot bridge before reaching the outer gate. Once inside there is a massive courtyard and the footpath continues off into the distance where you can make out the shape of Angkor Wat. I knew it was large for my pre-trip research, but I was still surprised by the enormity of the place. If interested about the history, you can read more here.
The outer wall
Inside, heading toward Angkor Wat
Carved into the walls of the temple were Bas Reliefs. There was a different story being told on each of the four walls.
This is from Churning of the Milky River from Hindu Mythology
There were lots more carvings of Apsara dancers around the temples
A lot of the statues have been looted by foreign powers and treasure hunters over the years. Sometimes just the heads were taken as in the case of this Buddha statue.
Intact Buddha statue
This is a statue of Vishnu, a Hindu god. He is cloaked in Buddhist robes as the Kingdom transitioned from Hinduism to Buddhism the religions melded.
This is a view from the temple looking out to the outer wall. I tried to get a perspective of how large this one temple really was.
A small group of Cambodian’s are allowed to sell food, water, and tourist items inside Angkor Wat. I sat down here with my guide who bought us both a fresh coconut water to drink before moving on.
A few more shots from around the temple.
Angkor Wat was just the first stop of the day. We move on from here to visit Ta Prohm (the Tomb Raider Temple), Bayon, and a few smaller stops.