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Siem Reap is located inside Cambodia, not too far from the Thai border. It is the site of Angkor Wat, an ancient temple complex that has been restored. I was surprised at how many tourists visit here, especially compared to the low numbers that I've seen at comparable Thai temples.

I think that most people arrive here by aircraft, and the small airport is quite busy with constant flights all day long. I visited here during high-season, and many hotels were full. Most of the tourists seemed to be from Japan, with the remainder a mixed bag from Europe.

The whole purpose of visiting is to visit Angkor Wat, as the city is not very noteworthy. It is a a little more expensive here compared to Thailand, but that is expected considering the huge number of tourists visiting. There was plenty of good Western Food available, and it was reasonably priced.

Angkor WatThis is the walkway over the moat to enter the walled area of Angkor Wat. Notice the lack of railings on the side - I noticed at several of the temples that there wasn't a lot of safety features, and tourists are pretty much allowed to clamor over the temples at will.

Angkor WatOnce you enter the walled area, you see the central part of the temple emerge. The walkway continues, but there are also a few smaller building located on the field within the walls. Of all the temples in the area, Angkor Wat seems to be the most important and is definitely the best restored.

Angkor WatThis is the view looking back in the direction I just came.

Angkor WatOnce you get inside, you can actually climb to near the top of temple to look around. The stairs that lead to the top are quite steep, and although it wasn't too difficult to climb up, coming back down was another problem entirely.

Angkor WatThis is another view from just in front of the temple.

Angkor WatThis view is of the outer wall from the inside.

Angkor WatThis is from the central part of the temple.

Angkor WatThroughout the temple, there are carvings of the famous "Apsara". You can see some of the restoration work here also. Within the walled sections, there are numerous Bas Relief carvings depicting different historical events. There's so much to see here that you could easily spend a whole day here at this one temple.

Angkor Wat... and one more view from the top.

Phnom BakhengAfter Angkor Wat, I headed up the road to Phnom Bakheng, a temple located at the top of a small hill. From the top, you get an excellent view of the surrounding area, including Angkor Wat. Apparently it gets quite crowded at the top at sunset, due to the spectacular view.

Phnom BakhengClimbing to the top was quite a workout. It is step, and you end up using your arms almost as much as your feet. There's is an alternate "easy" path to the top also.

Angkor ThomNext I came to the fortified city of Angkor Thom, which is surrounded by a 8m high wall that is 12km in length, as well as a moat. Inside, the "city" has mostly given way to the jungle, but of course the main temples are still there to be seen. This is one of the gates, with the bridge over the moat.

Angkor ThomInside Angkor Thom, the first temple I stopped at was Bayon.

Angkor WatThe temple is mostly restored, but there is still a small amount of work to be done.

Angkor WatHere you see the stones laid out, as part of the restoration process. A number of temples are currently being restored, and it is interesting to see how it is done. It is like an elaborate puzzle, where the stones are numbered, and fitted together. A plan is then made, and the stones assembled and held in place with steel "staples". If some stones are missing, new ones are made to fill in the gaps. These are noticeable, but they do not take away from the overall experience. The replacement stones don't get the detailed engravings that the original stones do.

Angkor WatThis is Ta Prohm, which is also one of the most popular attractions at Angkor. Although parts of the temple have been restored, the trees which have taken root have been allowed to remain. It's pretty amazing to see the way that the roots of the trees have taken over. It' as if they have a mind of their own.

Angkor WatOf course, everyone wants their picture taken with the roots, which leads to a little frustration for other photographers.

Angkor WatMore photos - I can't even describe them anymore, since there are so many temples here.

Angkor Wat...more...

Angkor Wat...more...

Angkor WatThis is a good example of how not all the temples are fully restored. At some temples, there are many out-of-bounds areas that are quite precarious. There are also many areas like this one which are supported, but still have a very unsafe look to them.

Angkor WatThis is the Siem Reap river that runs through the city. It is very slow moving and muddy, but there are a few restaurants that are located along the shore. It's not the best view but at least there is some green space. Siem Reap also has some large gardens located in parks at one end of the city.

Angkor WatSometimes, it is interesting to go to a restaurant and let the waiter decide what you should eat. This is especially useful if you don't understand the menu. Nowhere on the menu did it say "Chicken soup with some sort of green-curry-coconut-milk served in a coconut shell", but that's what I got.

Angkor WatI looked at my map and noticed a place marked "Olympic Stadium". I couldn't remember the Olympics ever being held in Cambodia, so I took a walk out there, and this is what I found. Please notice the five Olympic rings at the entrance.

Angkor Wat
This page was updated July 30, 2007