Siem Reap Day 5 (23 Oct 10) – Lazing Around Town

Wandering around Siem Reap

This would be the last day of my 5 day temple ruin trip to Cambodia. Originally wanted to sleep in, not too sure why I woke up at 8 am local time. Damn, I was hoping I can bunk in till 11am or something. After washing up, I finished up my blog entries from last night (worked till around 2am local time). Well did not take me long to complete yesterday’s entry, soon it is time for breakfast. The warmth of the staff in the hotel never failed to put a smile on my face. The lady at the reception greeted me and was asking how was I. Well you don’t even get this level of personal service in 5 star hotels these days. As I had finished up my breakfast, I checked with the lady at the reception about this hot air balloon ride that would take me up to the sky to have a last look at Ang Kor Wat from the sky, afterall I am not too sure when will I ever visit this part of the earth again.  On the way to the balloon ride area, as we were passing by the ticketing area for Ang Kor archeology site, the staff at the site told my tuk-tuk driver that the balloon was not flying today due to strong winds. I am kinda disappointed with that…. maybe god did not want me to board the balloon for some reason.

So I got the tuk-tuk driver to head back to town, this begins the (boring) day of wandering around the town like a zombie. As I had been to the town for the past 4 days, walking around especially under the hot sun was a torture. The weather was so hot here that I finally gave in and seek refuge in an air-con restaurant. Initially I was here only for a drink and to chill out from the hot sun. The staff was rather irritating and kept asking what food I wanna order. Well since it is time for lunch, I ordered this Siem Reap soup. The soup was so-so, not spicy  but abit on the sweet side. I guess most of the Khmer food are sweet in nature, and this soup is rather acceptable to me. After eating, I walked around the old market area twice to kill time. As I was walking, the usual “Sir you want tuk-tuk”, “Sir you want to buy T-shirt”, “Sir you want to buy something from me?” chants became audible. I must admit after hearing that for the past 4 days, it is rather irritating. How I wish time would fly I could quickly get to the airport. After wandering round the area for a few more rounds, it is time to head back to the hotel for a good shower before heading for the airport. The journey to the airport on tuk-tuk was enjoyable, despite the crowd at the check-in counter, I saw this business class cum internet check-in counter. The queue was way shorter. Did not take long for me to check in and sit down to write up my blog.

Walking around Siem Reap Town
Shopping at a local market
A market in Siem Reap Town
Walking around Siem Reap Town
Walking around Siem Reap Town
Lunch Time
Lunch Time
Walking around Siem Reap Town
Walking around Siem Reap Town
Walking around Siem Reap Town
Walking around Siem Reap Town
Walking around Siem Reap Town
On my way to Siem Reap Airport
On my way to Siem Reap Airport
On my way to Siem Reap Airport
Siem Reap Airport
Siem Reap Airport
Siem Reap Airport
At the immigration area of the airport
At the immigration area of the airport
The bird that is going to fly me home
Boarding time
The bird that is going to fly me home
Boarding the aircraft
The bird that is going to fly me home
Taking off

Afterthought

A reflection of the past few days. My first impression of Cambodia was that it is a country strike with poverty. The kids here did not have much choices of entertainment other then fishing at any water pond they can see. The very same water pond is also their swimming pool where they take a swim with their friends to past time. These kids do not have sophisticated gaming machines like PS 3, X-box 360, and yet they still enjoy with what they have. As my guide has told me there is no public bus service in Siem Reap. To get to school these kids would either have to cycle or walk there. As a result of the lack of a chance to be a couch potato and exercising daily, I din’t see any fat kids around. As I was telling my guide, the kids here are allowed to be kids and enjoy their carefree childhood.

Touring around the temple with a guide certainly is a better idea. With a guide, the guide was able to relate the importance of the temples, the significance of the carvings and where to look out for these carvings that will be commonly missed. I drew my experience from my trip to Ayutthaya last december, where I went around without a guide. Without a guide, it is synonymous with walking around blindly, as I do not know what was I suppose to look for, what is the significance of these temples. After awhile all the ruins just look the same to me. This time round with a guide, I was able to know more about the ruins, the lore behind it, as well as the story behind the carvings. It has made me realise that touring around the temple ruins is not just to see the temple itself. It is also to know how the temples interacted with the people, the community around it. Many people visit Siem Reap just to visit Ang Kor Wat, no doubt it is a must visit for people, it is not THE only temple that one should visit. Other then Ang Kor Wat, the other temples that I really like are Ta Prohm, Ta Som and Bang Melea due to the state they are in at the moment. Especially Bang Melea, the unknown purpose and the unknown builder of this temple further adds a mystic flavour to it. This trip to Siem Reap has educated me alot on the history of Khmer people and opened my eyes to see how fortunate we are to be born in Singapore. My next destination will be Iran (hopefully I can make the trip there), where I hope to see more of the ancient historical site.

Siem Reap Day 4 (22 Oct 10) – From the Jungle to the Oldest: Bang Malea to Roluos Group Temples

Bang Melea – The Jungle Temple 

My day started with a long drive towards my first destination and the 2nd highlight of the trip. A trip to Bang Melea is considered a must for the locals other then Ang Kor Wat. Bang Melea is located some 70km from Siem Reap. When we first reach the grounds, there are lotus ponds on either side of the bridge leading into the temple grounds. As we passed the bridge, a lion which was originally facing outwards (and now facing the temple) caught my eye. My guide has explained that was not the original facing of the lions. All the lions in the temple grounds always face away from the temple. Beyond the lion was where the original front gate was located, despite its non-existence, the remains of the gate can still be seen on the sides. As we walked further in, what greeted me was a pile of ruins! My guide explained that the ruins that was before us was the original entrance into the temple. He further explained that the temple was in such a state was mainly attributed to the vegetation around. It was not destroyed by mankind, but by mother earth herself! The temple was entirely built with sandstone which source was a nearby sandstone quarry, however who built it still remains a mystery. When the temple was exactly built was unknown, there seemed to be no records for this temple. What could be tell of this temple is the period it was built. As if the current state of the temple is not mysterious enough, the unknown origins add a certain mysticism to this temple.

We started the temple visit by walking the parameters of the temple. I could see how majestic the temple was in its hay days. This temple is often called Jungle temple by people certainly deserve this name. If people had not discovered this temple, the extend of natural destruction would be more severe. We walked round the back of the temple and started to proceed into the temple grounds. What I see around this temple is numerous ruins caused by the growth of trees. As we walked on the wooden walkways within the temple site, the extend of destruction appears much greater then it seem from outside. Once inside the grounds, my guide pointed out the building in the centre with a tree on top was the middle of the temple. We walked through this dark tunnel to the other side of the wooden walkway. Soon a huge tree with its root extended onto the ground from the roof of a corridor became visible to our sight (the wall is about 10m high from the ground).

We walked around and then proceeded as the wooden walkway would led us, and we were led to the top of one of the walls (yes this part is about 10 m from the ground), from this side I could see the extend of the damage around this part of the temple. Collapsing corridors, walkways, doors are a common sight in this temple. Walking through this temple involves clambering through small spaces and along roof tops. You gotta come here and experience it yourself to understand the state of ruin, the exotics and the extend of rage mother nature cast upon this mysterious temple. Within the temple grounds, I saw local children running around, climbing from wall to wall as if this is their playground. I also saw some of these kids showing a couple of Asian tourists around the temple site, they really know where to go and what to see here.

On our way to Bang Melea
Walking towards Bang Melea
At the entrance of Bang Melea
At the entrance of Bang Melea
This is the original entrance to Bang Melea, however it is in such a ruins that restoration is not possible
Original entrance to Bang Melea
Ruins of Bang Melea
Ruins of Bang Melea
Ruins of Bang Melea
Ruins of Bang Melea
Ruins of Bang Melea
Ruins of Bang Melea
Ruins of Bang Melea
Ruins of Bang Melea
Ruins of Bang Melea
Forces of nature has taken over Bang Melea
Ruins of Bang Melea
Ruins of Bang Melea
Ruins of Bang Melea
This temple is destroyed by forces of nature
Ruins of Bang Melea
Ruins of Bang Melea
Ruins of Bang Melea
Ruins of Bang Melea
Ruins of Bang Melea
Ruins of Bang Melea
Ruins of Bang Melea
Ruins of Bang Melea
Ruins of Bang Melea
Some carvings are still apparent around the temple ruins
Ruins of Bang Melea
Ruins of Bang Melea
Original carvings on the temple complex
Ruins of Bang Melea
Ruins of Bang Melea
Ruins of Bang Melea
Ruins of Bang Melea
This root is approximately 10m tall
Ruins of Bang Melea
Ruins of Bang Melea
Ruins of Bang Melea
Ruins of Bang Melea
Ruins of Bang Melea
Ruins of Bang Melea
Ruins of Bang Melea
Trees growing on top of the temple complex is a common sight here
Ruins of Bang Melea
Ruins of Bang Melea
Some of the carvings on Bang Melea
Ruins of Bang Melea
Ruins of Bang Melea
Ruins of Bang Melea
Ruins of Bang Melea
Ruins of Bang Melea
Ruins of Bang Melea
Ruins of Bang Melea
Ruins of Bang Melea
Ruins of Bang Melea
Entrance to the interior of the temple
Some of the original carvings
Carvings on Bang Melea
Carvings on Bang Melea
Ruins of Bang Melea
Ruins of Bang Melea
Ruins of Bang Melea
Carvings on Bang Melea

Leaving Bang Melea (the long drive is really worth it!), we headed to this restaurant for lunch. The uniqueness of this restaurant was the place it is built on, the dinning area of the restaurant is built on part of the river. Whenever someone walks around in the dinning area, the whole area will sway slightly. What an experience! I ordered myself the famous local dish Amok fish in young coconut, which is fish steamed with local spices to produce a curry like state. Not too bad.

Bicycle is a common transport in Siem Reap
Driving towards the restaurant for lunch
A Local town in Siem Reap
This is where I had my lunch
Khmer food for lunch
Khmer food for lunch

Lolei

Our next destination was the Roluos Group. This is a group of 3 temples named as it was near to the Roluos village and was part of the city of Hariharalaya, the first Khmer capital. The structures of these temples was later used as a template by later kings in their construction of the temples. This is where one would find the oldest temple in the Khmer history. The first of these 3 temples that we visited was Lolei. This late 9th century temple was originally built on an island in the middle of a baray. The then baray had dried up in present day. This small temple has 4 buildings, which the king had built a tower each for his grandfather, grandmother, father, and mother. The front two towers are for the males while the two towers at the back are for the females.  Despite its age, the carving of the Hindu god Indra riding on his 3 headed elephant mount can still be see on the lintels. The temple now shares a compound with a modern monastery, having a large building for prayers and living quarters for the monks. At this time of my visit, the young monks are playing soccer with some local kids.

Restoration works being done to Lolei
Restoration works being done to Lolei
Lolei up close
Lolei
Lolei
Carvings on Lolei

Oldest Khmer Temple – Preah Ko

The next temple that we visited was not far from Lolei, and is THE oldest temple in Khmer history. Built in 879, this temple of sacred bulls has 6 main towers. However the locals considered this temple to have only 5 towers as 2 of them were constructed very close to each other, often regarded as 1 by the locals. Preah Ko is got its name due to the presence of 3 bulls facing the first 3 towers in the temple. This temple is dedicated to Shiva and the bulls represent the mount of Shiva. Throughout the temple, I can see carvings of the immortal demon on the walls. The carvings of Shiva and Garuda was also visible on some of the lintels. However it seemed that this part of this temple as been restored using cement, especially the lintel that depicts a demon which looks like swallowing an elephant, with some dancers beneath it. This temple must have been grand at the time it was built, but compared to the others that I have visited so far, this is considered an average sized temple (most of the sizes of the temples were dwarfed by the sheer size of Ang Kor Wat).

Ruins of Preah Ko
Ruins of Preah Ko
Ruins of Preah Ko
Ruins of Preah Ko
Ruins of Preah Ko
Ruins of Preah Ko
Ruins of Preah Ko
Ruins of Preah Ko
Carvings on Preah Ko
Carvings on Preah Ko
Carvings on Preah Ko
Ruins of Preah Ko
There are some restoration works being done on Preah Ko
Ruins of Preah Ko
One of the bull statues in Preah Ko
Ruins of Preah Ko
Ruins of Preah Ko

Bakong

The last temple for this trip was Bakong. This temple was built 2 years later then Preah Ko and this temple was magnificent given its days. As we walked into the temple, 2 statues of Nagas can be seen greeting visitors. Surrounding this temple is a moat, very similar to those I have seen in Ang Kor Wat. As we pass the moat, a 5-tiered pyramid temple caught our sight. This temple was built by the king before he passed his throne to his son. As my guide explained, in ancient days, kings ruled their country from the mountains, signifying that they are above the rest. As this king was about to retire, he wanted to me “down to earth”, hence he built this temple. Bakong has a main tower high in the centre with 8 other smaller towers built around it on the ground level. Throughout the 5 levels of the pyramid temple, I can see 4 elephant statues on each level. Thought there are some damage to the lintel on some of the ground level towers, I can still see the carvings on one of these towers showing a demon head above some nagas. As I scaled the pyramid, on the top most level is the main temple building. The age of the building is seen here as the carvings on the lintel was not very visible.

On the back side of the temple, I can see the carving on the lintel depicting apsaras dancing, however the carving on top of these apsaras is not visible. Walking around to the front of this tower, the carvings on the lintel is less visible. The carving on the top seem to depict a god which I thought could be Shiva (as this temple was dedicated to Shiva). What was carved beneath it has given way to elements throughout the time. Nothing much can be made out of these carvings. I spent a few moments enjoying the scenario at the top most level of this temple and met a couple from Shanghai. We had a short chat about our trip in Cambodia so far. As I was resting I saw 2 local kids who wanted me to take pictures of them. They are cheerful and carefree, using the temple as their playground. Soon I decided it is time for me to head back to town and do some shopping.

Entrance of Bakong
The Bakong temple
Ruins of Bakong
Ruins of Bakong
Ruins of Bakong
Ruins of Bakong
Ruins of Bakong
Ruins of Bakong
At the top of Bakong
View from the top of Bakong
View from the top of Bakong
These lovely kids wanted me to take a picture of them
Ruins of Bakong

Siem Reap Day 3 (21 Oct 10) – Temples Hidden in the Jungle : Kbal Spean, Banteay Srei, Pre Rup, Ta Som, Neak Pean, Preah Khan

The Ruins in the River – Kbal Spean

The day started with a track at Kbal Spean, some 1hr drive away from Siem Reap. As we were driving to Kbal Spean, we passed by some local countryside area. My guide pointed out to me that the scarecrow looking figure we seen in front of the houses are used to scare away evil spirits! The Kbal Spean is a holy ground that people worshiped for more then a millennium! This track does not lead to a temple, but carvings into the riverbed rocks. These carvings are made into the upper stream of Siem Reap river, which flowed into Ang Kor Wat. The walk to the (Siem Reap) river was by no means an easy task, there are certain parts where one has to climb onto steep slopes with rocks of various sizes scattered all over the trail. The track one-way is around 1.5km, despite certain parts are tougher to climb, it did not take us long to reach the carvings. Upon reaching, I could see carvings on the riverbed rocks. The one that impresses me the most is the one that depicts the god Vishnu lying on a serpent. The carvings were made taking into consideration the way the water flows to create the visual effect of the serpent that Vishnu sleeps on was floating on the water. This is an impressive piece of art, and was created more then 1000 years ago. This part of the river is more famously known as the River of thousand lingas, as countless lingas were carved into the riverbed blessings people using the water at the lower part of the stream. There is also a carving of the god Brahma sitting on a lotus as well as several carvings that depict part of the religious scenes. As we tracked further down we arrived into a waterfall, what greeted us was a group of 4 Caucasians in their swimming suits, enjoying the water there. Wow, they sure know how to enjoy life, having driven for about 1 hr, and tracked 1.5 km just to do this. My guide told me that in hotter parts of the year, only there are only 1 waterfall instead of the 3 we saw today. Compared to the waterfall I was looking for in Phuket earlier this year, this one is far more decent. This waterfall pool marks the end of the tour in Kbal Spean, soon we headed down hill and proceeded towards Banteay Srei.

On my way to Kbal Spean
On my way to Kbal Spean
On my way to Kbal Spean
On my way to Kbal Spean
We had to do a 15 min trek though the forest to get to Kbal Spean
Trekking to Kbal Spean
Trekking to Kbal Spean
Trekking to Kbal Spean
Arrival at Kbal Spean
These buddhist carvings survived the centuries
Carvings that survived the centuries
I like how precious these carvings are, giving the illusion that the Buddha is floating across the river
More carvings by the river
This Buddha carving is done on a rock by the river
Carvings by the river
Carving by the river
Carving by the river
Carving by the river
Spotted some tourists taking a dip at the river
Waterfall at Kbal Spean
Waterfall at Kbal Spean
More carvings by the river

The Small Temple Ruin – Banteay Srei

The drive to Banteay Srei was not a far one, as Kbal Spean and Banteay Srei are very close to each other. This temple is a rather small one in size, despite its size it is one of the most beautiful one. As my guide explained, this temple was not built by a king, but the king’s counselors, and was dedicated to the women. As we walked into the temple, the first lintel has carvings that shown a god sitting on his 3 headed elephant on top of the immortal demon head. The carvings are exquisite and well preserved despite being created in around 900 AD. As we were walking along the causeway towards the temple, 2 rows of statues were visible which were for the purpose of decoration. As we approached the 2nd gate into the temple, my guide pointed out the carving on the beam, which looked like a demon devouring a god.  My guide explained that it was actually Vishnu in his lion reincarnation clawing the chest of the king of demons. The liveliness of the carvings are very much visible and well preserved all these years. As we entered 2nd gate, we saw the main temple itself. It is a 3 building temple, constructed very close to each other. On top of one of the building is a carving showing Garuda at the bottom subduing the serpents, on top was a scene showing the fight between the 2 monkey brothers over the throne of the king of monkeys. There are several carvings of asparas on the outer pillars of the 3 shrines. What amazes me about this temple is despite its small size, the temple has everything! 3 shrines to worship 3 gods, 3 libraries and tons of carvings. Despite it age, the carvings are very well preserved, most of them still display its glory at the time it was built! It did not take us long to complete the tour of this temple. Soon it was time for lunch.

Carvings on Banteay Srei
Ruins of Banteay Srei
The carving on this temple are rather intricate
Carvings on Banteay Srei
Ruins of Banteay Srei
Ruins of Banteay Srei
Carvings on Banteay Srei
Close up of the carvings
Ruins of Banteay Srei
Ruins of Banteay Srei
Banteay Srei from the outside
Banteay Srei
Banteay Srei
Banteay Srei
Carvings on Banteay Srei
Banteay Srei
Banteay Srei
Intricate carvings
Ruins of Banteay Srei
Ruins of Banteay Srei
Banteay Srei
Banteay Srei
Carvings on Banteay Srei
Carvings on Banteay Srei
Outside the temple
Great picture point of the temple

The Temple Built for Rituals – Pre Rup

After having lunch, we headed to our next destination, Pre Rup. This temple was built in the middle of 10th Century and was used for cremation rites. There was a platform as I walked into the temple and my guide explained that it was used to support coffins for cremation. After the body was burnt, it was transferred to a small chapel to the right of it for cleansing. Sounds like it was built for the assisting the dead into the nether worlds. According to history, this temple was once a state temple. This temple was once the centre of a city. Climbing up the stairs of this pyramid temple was by no means easy. The steps are tall and narrow, making it a challenge for people, especially people with MacDonald-sized feet. As I reached the top (the temple is about 12m from the ground), the view around this temple is amazing. I can see rice fields and afar, a sister temple to Pre Rup. On the main building, I can see the god Indra sitting on a single headed elephant on the lintel. Despite the age of this temple, this carving is still very well preserved. Now it is time for me to descend and get to my next destination, the width of the steps seemed challenging for me to get down. Using what my guide had taught me, getting down is actually not as hard as it seems. The sheer size and height of the temple struck me of the significance of this temple in its hay days.

Khmer food for lunch
Ruins of Pre Rup
This altar is for burial purposes
Ruins of Pre Rup
Lion Statue at Pre Rup
Ruins of Pre Rup
Ruins of Pre Rup
Ruins of Pre Rup
View from the top of Pre Rup
View from the top of Pre Rup
Ruins of Pre Rup
View from the top of Pre Rup
View from the top of Pre Rup
Ruins of Pre Rup
Ruins of Pre Rup
Ruins of Pre Rup
Ruins of Pre Rup
Ruins of Pre Rup
Ruins of Pre Rup
Ruins of Pre Rup
Ruins of Pre Rup

The Twin of Pre Rup – East Mebon

Not far from Pre Rup (about 5 mins drive), we reached East Mebon. A temple that my guide described as the twin of Pre Rup. Twin it might be, but this temple was not as grand as Pre Rup and is definitely much shorter. East Mebon has only 2 levels. The difference as my guide has pointed out in terms of structure is the presence of elephant statues in East Mebon. This temple used to be on an island in a baray, in order to access it people used to have to travel via boat. This is to guarantee a constant water supply by the king then into his city. This reservoir has now dried up and the landscape is totally different from yesteryears. This temple has a 5 building design at its centre, similar to its twin Pre Rup but less grand due to its height.

Ruins of Eat Mebon
Ruins of Eat Mebon
Ruins of Eat Mebon
Ruins of Eat Mebon
Ruins of Eat Mebon
Ruins of Eat Mebon
Ruins of East Mebon

Ruins of Eat Mebon

Ta Som – Image of Ta Prohm

The next temple that we visited was a rather small one – Ta Som. This temple, similar to Ta Prohm, has 2 4-face Buddhas on each of its entrance.  This temple is built around 13th century has quite a number of apsara carved into its pillars. My guide had explained to me that this is probably one of the hated temples by the hindus as it has carvings that depict Lord Vishnu and Shiva as a consort of Buddha. It is kinda an insult to their believes. The temple just looked ruined as you walked within it. My guide brought me to the other entrance of the temple. From the direction we came from, it look just like a normal tower. However once you cross to the other side of the temple, WOW you can see tree roots growing around the entrance opening decorating the entrance. This is some temple entrance you would see on tomb raider, very similar to Ta Prohm. I am just amazed how mother earth chose to decorate this abandoned temple.

 

Entrance to Ta Som
Carvings on Ta Som that survived the centuries
Ruins of Ta Som
Ruins of Ta Som
A small temple
Ruins of Ta Som
Ruins of Ta Som
Looks like these carvings have been restored recently
Carvings on Ta Som
Ruins of Ta Som
View of the 4 faced Buddha structure from behind
Ruins of Ta Som
Ruins of Ta Som
Ruins of Ta Som
Ruins of Ta Som

Neak Pean – The Water Temple

Walking around Ta Som did not take much time, due to its compactness. We soon headed for the next temple – Neak Pean. Neak Pean is not your usual temple as one would see (certainly not the ones I have seen so far). Before even getting to the temple, the walkway leading to it was rather unique. I had to walk through some water pool, which look like mangrove swamp. As I walked along the road leading to it, I can see some locals building wooden walkways for visitors. At one place, near to the temple I can see tons of tadpoles which seem like they are in clans or families gently swimming against the current. Once I reached the entrance, of this temple, I did not even realised it. It is not like the other temples which has a entrance gate, this temple is rather open. The main temple building has 2 nagas statues surrounding it, facing a horse statue with people assisting the horse. It seemed that the centre building of this temple is not accessible unless you wanna get wet as it is built into a squarish pond. Surrounding the pond is 4 other ponds, with 4 statues on each chapel representing each element on each side. We did not walk around to inspect each of the chapel as there were a bunch of Italian tourists around (would be too hard to get around it). After resting for about 5 mins, we made our way back to the entrance through the “water pathway” and headed for our next destination.

Walking towards Neak Pean
Walking towards Neak Pean
Schools of Tadpoles
Tadpoles up close
Walking towards Neak Pean
Neak Pean
Neak Pean
Neak Pean
Neak Pean
Neak Pean
Neak Pean

The Charming Preah Khan

This would be our last temple for the day – Preah Khan. The first impression it gave me was the entrance of this temple looked alot like that of Angkor Thom. It had 2 rows of gods and demons on each side, leading to a 3-doored gate, similar to that in Ang Kor Wat. On the boundary walls I can see a statue of Garuda being embedded onto the left side of the wall and a statue of a lion on the right side of the wall. My guide had told me that this was once a palace of one of the kings, which was then converted into a temple and presented to his father as a gift. What we saw was just a small fraction of it, I can see after passing through the gate, a huge mass of land now consumed by forests. We walked further into the temple site, what welcomed us was an elaborated entrance with statues of Nagas and lions as well as the remaining 1 of 2 guardians of the temple. Though some of the statues are in ruined condition, the entrance into the temple still remains well preserved. As we walked through the gates into the temple itself, the carvings on the lintel, depicting a hermit praying with 2 followers sitting on the immortal demon head.

Walking further into the very centre of the temple, a stupa can be seen. I was told that this stupa was only added around the 16th century. The original figure at this location was a a statue of the King’s father. We then walked around the courtyard of the temple, there are more carvings that can be seen on the lintels. One of them depicting a group of apsaras dancing, Buddha sitting on top of the immortal demon head. There is also a wall with a group of hermits that seem to be meditating. As I walked around the temple, I can see trees growing onto the building roof with its root dangling out. The most visible one would be the wall facing a 2 storey building on the left side of the temple as one enters into the temple compound. This tree literally tears the building a part by stamping its roots into the temple walls. Perhaps the most significant building in this temple is not the main temple building, but this building that was rumored to holds the sacred sword. It was believed that for the king to rule the country, he must have this sword in this possession. This sword was believed to be held in this 2 storey building that was located on the left side as we entered the temple site. It was also believed that when the King then gave the temple to his father, together with it, the sacred sword for his father to safe keep for him. However when invaders came to loot this temple, the sword was not found inside. As my guide has explained, the location and the existence of this sacred sword remains a myth to date.

Entrance to Peah Khan
Entrance to Peah Khan
Entrance to Peah Khan
Entrance to Peah Khan
Wall of Preah Khan
Walking into Preah Khan
Ruins of Preah Khan
Restoration in progress
Ruins of Preah Khan
Inside Preah Khan
Ruins of Preah Khan
Ruins of Preah Khan
Ruins of Preah Khan
Ruins of Preah Khan
Ruins of Preah Khan
Ruins of Preah Khan
Ruins of Preah Khan
Ruins of Preah Khan
Ruins of Preah Khan
Ruins of Preah Khan
Ruins of Preah Khan
Ruins of Preah Khan
Ruins of Preah Khan
Ruins of Preah Khan
Ruins of Preah Khan
Ruins of Preah Khan
Ruins of Preah Khan

Sunset Over Ang Kor Wat

As we walked out of the building heading for our next destination (hang on did I say Preah Khan was our last stop??), which is to watch sunset near Ang Kor Wat. In order to see this sunset event, I had to take a small walk up a hill to see it. As I walked up the hill, on the top was another temple ruins! This insignificant yet visited by many tourists daily was Phnom Bakheng temple. This temple was the first state temple at Ang Kor. This temple imitates the temple of Bakong at the Roluos group, which was the 2nd oldest temple in the history of Cambodia. This temple is around 13m high and enables visitors to see as near as Ang Kor Wat, as far as the West Baray. As the sunset was in the direction of the West Baray, I find it rather disappointing to see sunset towards this direction instead of over Ang Kor Wat, which the scenery would be nicer. Perhaps there were a lot of tourists gathering on top of this temple to watch sunset, making the place noisy rather then serene. On top I could see what seem to be some celebrities from Japan seem to be filming some documentary program, also I can see a bunch of tourists from China setting up a make shift table and playing cards. Geez…. they can really enjoy life! I did not wait for the sun to set before heading back downhill as it would be very crowded and dark. On my way down, I passed by this area where I can see what seemed to be a daily migration of some flying insects. As I was passing through them, the bunch of aunties behind me from Hong Kong was screaming as they pass through the insects. I was thinking they are scaring the insects more then the insects scaring them. I ended my long and tiring day with a buffet dinner with the traditional Khmer dance show. I did not stay long for the show as I was pretty tired after a long day of temple visitations.

Waiting for sunset over Ang Kor Wat
Waiting for sunset over Ang Kor Wat
Waiting for sunset over Ang Kor Wat
Waiting for sunset over Ang Kor Wat
Waiting for sunset over Ang Kor Wat
Waiting for sunset over Ang Kor Wat
Waiting for sunset over Ang Kor Wat
Waiting for sunset over Ang Kor Wat
Sunset over Ang Kor Wat
Sunset over Ang Kor Wat
Sunset over Ang Kor Wat
Sunset over Ang Kor Wat
Sunset over Ang Kor Wat
Sunset over Ang Kor Wat
Sunset over Ang Kor Wat
Sunset over Ang Kor Wat
Sunset over Ang Kor Wat
Sunset over Ang Kor Wat
Sunset over Ang Kor Wat
Traditional Khmer Performance
Traditional Khmer Performance
Traditional Khmer Performance
Traditional Khmer Performance
Traditional Khmer Performance
Traditional Khmer Performance
Traditional Khmer Performance
Traditional Khmer Performance
Traditional Khmer Performance
Traditional Khmer Performance
Traditional Khmer Performance
Traditional Khmer Performance

Seap Reap Day 2 (20 Oct 10) – Ang Kor Wat: Jewel Of Cambodia

The Magnificent Ang Kor Wat

Today is marks the first of my 3 day visit to the Ang Kor archeology sites. My first stop after purchasing my personalised 3-day pass into the Ang Kor archeology park, is the infamous Ang Kor Wat. This site doesn’t look as magnificent as one would imagine from the outside especially from the causeway leading into the monument. As explained by my guide, the Ang Kor Wat is built around 1133AD and till date it is the biggest religious monument built by mankind. The temple is built using 3 different type of materials, sandstone, brick and laterite. All the materials used to built this monument is transported down the Siem Reap river via rafts. The 65m tall temple as 3 layers and 5 main pillars at the centre. Each of these pillars represent the peaks surrounding Mt Meru, a holy mountain where the gods is believed to reside. The temple was originally built to honor Vishnu, however throughout the years the temple was “taken over” by the Buddhist believers and was transformed to honor Buddhism. Hence the Vishnu idol was shifted from the centre pagoda in the temple to the front most left gate, as one would enter into the temple. As my guide has explained, the 3 gates or pagodas that greeted millions of visitors who flocked to this monument, represented 3 gods: Vishnu, Shiva and Brahma, each representing protector, destroyer and creator. As I walked into the temple site from the gate, what impresses me is the amount of carvings representing the religious beliefs of people of that time. The walls are full of carvings, Khmer scripts detailing their religious aspects. My guide explained there are numerous Apsaras or female dancers carved throughout the temple walls, the last calculation done number them to be 1850! The statue of Vishnu is still seen at the entrance greeting visitors into the temples.

Ang Kor Wat at the Entrance
Couple of stone lion guardians
Causeway leading into Ang Kor Wat
Ang Kor Wat from the causeway
View of Ang Kor Wat from the Causeway
View of Ang Kor Wat from the Causeway
View of Ang Kor Wat from the Causeway
Walking into Ang Kor Wat

As we walked further in, there are 2 buildings that came into our sight. My guide explained that these are 2 of the numerous libraries within the temple. As we were walking into the temple, we side-tracked to this area which is usually missed out by visitors. There is a functional temple at the side of Ang Kor Wat, I could see monks, children and some buildings namely the dinning hall, the prayer hall and the living quarters for the residents.  As we walk towards the main Ang Kor Wat, I saw some pagoda looking structures. My guide explained that these are the tombs of the monks who once resided in the temple grounds. Not long after we reached the first level of Ang Kor Wat temple itself. Basically the temple has 3 levels. What greeted me at this level was the numerous carvings in the walls. These are not just carvings of apsaras, these detailed the mythological encounters of Vishnu. There is this stretch of panel representing the life of Vishnu in one of his reincarnations as Ramayana. There is also carvings telling tales of The battle of Lanka, and another telling about Gods battling demons. As my guide was explaining the mythological tales, it all made sense when I saw the carvings. The amount of work went into the building the temple and decorating it with carvings is the other factor that made this ancient site magnificent. As we were walking through the halls of carvings, what crossed our sight next was 4 pools. I was told that the significance of these 4 pools is for the apsaras, whom would perform for the kings, to cleanse themselves from their impurities before entering further into the temples.

Entering Ang Kor Wat
5 headed nagas are a common feature in Ang Kor Temples
Main Entrance into Ang Kor Wat
A 5 headed naga in front of Ang Kor Wat
Corridor on the ground floor of Ang Kor Wat
Ang Kor Wat was originally dedicated to this God
Dedicate carvings that survived for centuries
Close up of the god that Ang Kor Wat was originally meant for
Carvings of Apsaras is common in this temple
Ang Kor Wat Building up close
Carving of Apsara
Carvings on the walls of Ang Kor Wat
It seemed that there are more buildings around this temple
Carvings that survived centuries
Carvings that survived centuries
Close up of the Ang Kor architecture
One of the libraries in Ang Kor Wat compound
One of the libraries in Ang Kor Wat compound
Ang Kor Wat
Ang Kor Wat
A functional temple inside Ang Kor Wat grounds
Buried here are the remains of monks who served in the temple
Temple inside Ang Kor Wat compound
View of Ang Kor Wat from the functional temple
Ang Kor Wat up close, there are some restoration work being done
Carvings that survived centuries
Carvings that survived centuries
Carvings that survived centuries
Carvings that survived centuries
Carvings that survived centuries
Carvings that survived centuries
One of the 4 water reservoirs in Ang Kor Wat
One of the 4 water reservoirs in Ang Kor Wat
Inside Ang Kor Wat
Magnificent building that stood for centuries

At the second level of the temple, more carvings of apsaras were seen on the walls. However, there was this particular side of the temple where the carvings were incomplete as I could see the outlines of what seem to be the face with no facial features on them. The second level is where one would find a court yard for other people of that time to stay put, awaiting the king and high priests to complete their prayer. The steps leading to the third level was steep! As I climbed the metallic stairs made for tourists, I could see the original stairs beneath it. Those steps were smaller and steeper. I can’t help but wonder how these people climbed up in those days. As if climbing up did not pose enough problems, the descend on those tiny looking stairs really made me think for awhile, how the hell did they do it back then? Well the third level is considered the highest point where visitors can visit (not the highest point in the temple). On this level one can see the surroundings and the whole of the temple grounds from the 4 lookout towers, which represented the mountain ranges surrounding Mt Meru. The sight is refreshing and the breeze gently caressing your face seem to take all the heat that the merciless sun shone upon away. I spent some time enjoying the breeze and looking at the restoration at the front of the temple. Certain parts of the temple is out of bounds due to restoration works. After walking down from the third level, my guide brought me to the northern side of the temple to take some picture with no restoration constructions. Man he is good! As we were walking back towards the car getting ready to hit our next destination, what greeted me was a bunch of ladies…. good one might think, but these are the ladies trying to tout their products to visitors. I wanted to get a really good book talking about the temples in Siem Reap, and gotten one for mere USD5 (she initially quoted me USD10, but I told her the boy outside is selling for 5 and she brought down the price to USD5).

Interior of Ang Kor Wat
Inside Ang Kor Wat
Inside Ang Kor Wat
One of the god statues that survived the test of time
Inside Ang Kor Wat
Inside Ang Kor Wat
Inside Ang Kor Wat
Inside Ang Kor Wat
Inside Ang Kor Wat
View of the top of Ang Kor Wat
Inside Ang Kor Wat
Inside Ang Kor Wat
View from the top of Ang Kor Wat
Inside Ang Kor Wat
View from the top of Ang Kor Wat
Inside Ang Kor Wat
This is the flight of stairs one would have to take to ascent to the top of the temple
The original steps
Inside Ang Kor Wat
Inside Ang Kor Wat
Carvings that stood the test of time
Carvings that stood the test of time
Carvings that stood the test of time
Ang Kor Wat from a different angle
Last glance of Ang Kor Wat

I was driven to the place where I would have my lunch. This Khmer restaurant is just next to what was a reservoir in the olden days. Again along the shore not only did I find kids fishing along the reservoir, I also find kids touting to passing tourists to buy their stuff… hhmm… is that the way of life here? After the lunch we headed for Ta Prohm.

Khmer food for lunch
Reservoir beside the restaurant
Reservoir beside the restaurant

The Temple in Ruins – Ta Prohm

This temple is perhaps made famous in the Tomb Raider movie, where one would see the forces of nature. This temple is one of the smallest temple around, it din take us long before we complete a walk around the temple. My first impression of Ta Prohm is it is a very ruined temple, very fitting of the title a temple lost in time. The state of ruins of this temple is as if the locals or even tourists has forgotten this temple and trees were allowed to grow their roots into the temple. Some of the temple collapsed as the roots tore into the structure of the temple. However at the entrance one can see restoration works were being done to the entrance gate as well as the inner gate. How I wish they would leave the temple to the works of the forces of nature, it kinda looked sexier that way. The carvings in the temple was not as grand as that in Ang Kor Wat, perhaps due to the size of the temple as well as the purpose of the temple. I was told that this temple was built as a Buddhist temple, as such the carvings are rather limited to apsaras and life then the story of Vishnu. As we were passing by one of the undestroyed part of the temple, my guide pointed out what I thought to be unusual carving. There was actually a carving of a dinosaur among others! I am not too sure if this dinosaur was carved in as a prank at the time it was built. As we walked around the temple, I saw this huge tree on top of one of the temple structures. My guide told me that it is actually 2 trees, that over the time grew to merged into 1. Around the temple, it is not tough to see tree roots growing over the temple structure. At one of the part of the temple, the tree laterally destroyed the temple as it was evident that part of the corridor gave way to the forces of nature.

Restoration works being done on Ta Prohm
The route towards Ta Prohm
Ta Prohm
Forces of nature in Ta Prohm
Forces of nature on Ta Prohm
Ta Prohm
Trees growing all over Ta Prohm is a common site here
Ta Prohm
Ruins of Ta Prohm
Ta Prohm
Inside Ta Prohm
Ta Prohm standing against the forces of nature
Ta Prohm
Ta Prohm
Ta Prohm
Carvings on Ta Prohm
Ta Prohm
Forces of nature in Ta Prohm
Forces of nature onTa Prohm
Forces of nature onTa Prohm
Forces of nature on Ta Prohm
Carvings in Ta Prohm
Ta Prohm
Apsara carvings in Ta Prohm
Forces of nature on Ta Prohm
Forces of nature on Ta Prohm
Forces of nature on Ta Prohm
Forces of nature on Ta Prohm
Ta Prohm
Forces of nature on Ta Prohm
Ta Prohm
Forces of nature on Ta Prohm
Forces of nature on Ta Prohm
Forces of nature on Ta Prohm
Forces of nature on Ta Prohm

The City of AngKor Thom

Leaving Ta Prohm, our next destination is AngKor Thom. My guide explained this is actually not a temple but a city. It was known as the largest Khmer cities until 17th century and was the capital of Cambodia once upon a time. As we were driving through the gates, we were greeted by 2 rolls of 54 statue each side. On the left side depicted a roll of gods and on the right side depicted a roll of demons, and according to the Khmer mythology, this scene is where the gods and demons worked together to churn out a sea of milk, with Vishnu reincarnated as a turtle. As we were approaching AngKor Thom, a statue head of 4 faces can be seen on the gate entrance. according to my guide, the 4 faces symbolises the 4 human emotions. Beyond the gate was a row of buildings, my guide had told me originally there were 12 of those buildings, worshiping the 12 gods. I did not do a count of how many were left, but I am certain that less then 12 remain standing. We climbed up what was the royal parade viewing platform, with the highest ranking officer stationing near to the king, who would sit on the centre and the tallest platform. The lowest ranking officer however got the first row of seats, doesn’t seem too bad at all. As we walked closer to the viewing platform, it was apparent that there are engravings of Garudas (half human, half bird creature), and lions at the base of the platform. 3 headed elephant and elephant carvings were also visible throughout the view platform, this is what the locals called the elephant terrace. This 300m terrace runs from the viewing platform to what the locals called the Leper King’s Terrace. More of that later. Beyond the platform is where the Phimeanakas used to be. The Phimeanakas is a temple within the royal palace, but the lack of surviving carvings means it isn’t worth climbing, plus the fact that I was rather tired so I decided to be lazy and not scale this pyramid.

Beyond the Phimeanakas is where the royal palace used to be, as I did not go beyond the Phimeanakas, I am not too sure if there are remains of the royal palace still exists, but the 2 pools that was within the palace can still be seen. My guide mentioned that those were the swimming pools of the time then. As we walked past the pools, we came to the Leper King’s Terrace. I was told that the Leper King’s Terrace got its name due to the corrosion on the Statue of Lord Yama (who was the keeper of the underworld). The corrosion on the statue created several white spots on it which looked like someone with Leprosy, hence the name Leper King’s Terrace. On the base of the Leper King’s Terrace, there were significant amount of demon carvings on it and beneath these demons were nagas and marine life. It seemed to depict some kind of ranking system in the underworld. After leaving the royal grounds, we headed for The Bayon, another temple within Angkor Thom.

A temple we spotted on our way to AngKor Thom
A temple we spotted on our way to AngKor Thom
AngKor Thom
AngKor Thom
AngKor Thom
AngKor Thom
AngKor Thom
AngKor Thom
Carvings on AngKor Thom
Carvings on AngKor Thom
AngKor Thom
AngKor Thom
Carvings on AngKor Thom
AngKor Thom
AngKor Thom
AngKor Thom
Carvings that stood the test of time
Carvings that stood the test of time
Carvings that stood the test of time
Carvings that stood the test of time
Carvings that stood the test of time
AngKor Thom
AngKor Thom
AngKor Thom
AngKor Thom
Carvings of the Apsaras that survived time
More ancient carvings
More ancient carvings
More ancient carvings
Ancient AngKor Thom

Bayon – The Temple of Buddha Faces

The Bayon served as the state temple at that time. It was recorded to having 49 Towers in the Bayon, however only 37 remained standing to this date. All the towers has the 4 faces of Buddha, in total there were 196 faces of Buddha in the Bayon in its glory days. The Bayon was constructed to consist of 3 levels. The first level is where one would find the carvings of daily lives of people at that time. There were war scenes, daily market scenes, as well as apsaras dancing scenes. On the second level is where the mythology of churning of the sea of milk can be seen, while on the third level is where one would find the faces of Buddha. People usually to this temple as they can see the faces of Buddha at a close distance, as these faces usually appear on the top of the gates or the temples. The faces of the Buddha at such a close proximity indeed looked better then a far distance. At this distance, I can see the age of these towers, and this is the only place in Cambodia where one can get so close to so many Buddha faces. As this is the last stop of the day, we head back to town for a well deserved rest. I grabbed dinner in a restaurant in town called the Red Piano, and they were having Asian buffet. The food was so-so but i enjoyed the view from my table more as the streets of Siem Reap can be seen there. Nice place to chill out though. After dinner I got a foot massage for my tired out legs and prepare them better for a long journey tomorrow.

Faces of The Bayon
Faces of The Bayon
Faces of The Bayon
The Bayon
Faces of The Bayon
Faces of The Bayon
Faces of The Bayon up close
Faces of The Bayon up close
The Bayon
Pub Street at night
Dinner Time

 

Siem Reap Day 1 (19 Oct 10) – Gateway to an Ancient Empire

Arrival at Siem Reap

Siem Reap, the gateway to the famous Ang Kor Wat, is a mere 2 hours flight away from Singapore. My main purpose of visiting Siem Reap is for the infamous Ang Kor Wat, and the various temples built during the ancient Angkorian period. Travelers from the west spend disgusting amount of money coming to visit this magnificent site, which is laterally at our doorstep. It would be rather silly for me not to visit this jewel of Southeast Asia. Besides sometime ago I read from somewhere that Ang Kor Wat is about to close due to the numerous hordes of visitors coming to visit these temple ruins, which inevitably has caused the structure to give way. I figured better visit this sites before what they did to the Pisa Towers happen to Ang Kor Wat. It would be meaningless to visit Ang Kor Wat at its parameters. Siem Reap basically existed for the visitors to Ang Kor Wat. Before the massive influx of tourists visiting the temple ruins, Siem Reap was a small sleepy town until a French explorer rediscovered the Ancient ruins of Angkorian Empire for the world to visit. Siem Reap simply means the defeat of Siam, and refers to a century-old bloodbath, commemorated in stone in the celebrated bas belief carvings of the monuments.

As the aircraft landed into Siem Reap, what greets me was a quiet sleepy airport, a 180 degree difference from Changi Airport, which was always bustling with life. Despite its “sleepy” appearance, Siem Reap airport is by no ways slack. Everything worked like clock work once an aircraft landed. One would see vehicles with aircraft stairways making their way swiftly to bridge with the aircraft. Not before long we were allowed to disembark. As my seat was the last 2nd row of the aircraft, I was one of the first few to depart from the rear of the aircraft. Well not many airports allow passengers to disembark from the rear. After exiting the aircraft, this is when I realised that I was actually very close to the aircraft, I can even see the “number plate” of the aircraft on its wings. Entering the airport premises, things worked like clockwork once again. The once sleepy airport operations are awaken by the inflow of passengers awaiting to explore the grounds of the Angkorian Ruins. Airport staff sprung into action with order and clearing the passengers quickly. The interior decor as well as the exterior fully displayed the Angkorian architecture. As I walked out of the airport, the hotel staff picking me up is already there waiting for me.

Deplaning in Siem Reap Airport
Walking under the wing of the bird which brought me here to Siem Reap
Heading towards the Airport Terminal
Inside the airport terminal
Waiting to clear immigration
Around the airport
Facade of Siem Reap Airport
On the streets of Siem Reap
On the streets of Siem Reap
On the streets of Siem Reap
On the streets of Siem Reap

Getting My Bearings in the Town of Siem Reap

After settling into my room, it is time for me to visit the Siem Reap Museum and explore around Siem Reap town. Visiting the national museum of Siem Reap was to give an insight into the Angkorian history before visiting the temples. However, before visiting the museum, I need to energise my stomach with lunch. I went to the old market area to hunt for lunch. There are lots of Khmer restaurants for me to choose at pub street area. After walking up and down the same street for 5 mins, I finally settled for this restaurant called “Traditional Khmer Food Restaurant”, and ordered myself some curry looking claypot of food. While waiting for my lunch, I saw some locals walking up and down the street, young and old, all victims of the war, selling souvenirs to dinning tourists. There was this ang moh guy watch you tube in the restaurant. A bunch of local boys was selling stuff to tourists around the area stopped and watched him watching you tube. The ang moh guy was generous enough to share with them what he was watching. I was surprised at how knowledgable these kids are on European geography. After finishing eating, I strolled to the museum. As the museum was a far walk away from my dinning area, I took a slow stroll around, trying to absorb and appreciate the town.

A 5 headed Naga – common in the folklore of Ang Kor
Cambodian Temple
At the town centre
Lunch Time
A foreigner sharing his video clips with local kids
Pub Street in Siem Reap
Pub Street
Streets in Siem Reap
Siem Reap Botanic Gardens
Siem Reap Botanic Gardens
Siem Reap Botanic Gardens
Siem Reap Botanic Gardens
Siem Reap Botanic Gardens

Siem Reap Museum

The museum was rather empty, the number of visitors was less then 10 at the time of my visit. At the entrance, one of the staff asked where I was from. He asked what was the average wages in Singapore, and I told him around USD 2-3k. He then asked how much the factory workers earned. I told him around USD 1k, he then told me he is a university graduate with bachelor in english literature, and his pay per month is only USD 150!! And he actually wanted to come to singapore and worked as a factory worker! After talking for another 10 mins, he left me to my tour around the museum. The museum was displaying mainly the cultural beliefs of Cambodians and the history of Angkor Wat. Most of the artifacts were actually from the temple ruins, some dated as far back back as 5th century! Photography was not permitted in most areas.

Entrance to the Ang Kor Museum
Entrance to the Ang Kor Museum
This is displayed in front of the entrance of one of the galleries in the museum
2 Ang Kor style stone lions at the entrance of one of the galleries
Ang Kor styled buddhist statue with 5-headed nagas
Some of the relics on display
Some of the relics on display
This well craved beam is taken from one of the temples
This well craved beam is taken from one of the temples
This well craved beam is taken from one of the temples
These are some of the original pillars taken from one of the temples
This is a replica of multi-headed buddha
Some of the relics on display
Some of the relics on display
Some of the relics on display
Some of the relics on display

After the museum tour, I decided to visit the some of the temples (or pagodas as the locals described it) nearby the museum before heading back to the hotel. On the map it looked like they are right next to the museum, so I walked towards my destination. After crossing Siem Reap river, I ended up on this small riverside road. As I walked along the road, it reminds me of singapore in the 60s, housing built next to the river. Most of the houses just had a room with a TV, very simple set up. Along the river one can see the locals fishing by the river, it seemed that fishing is a popular pass time for the locals. As i was walking and looking for temples, I saw more of local lifestyle. People here lived very humbly and simple. Kids were allowed to remain as kids with their carefree lifestyle (at least this part of the town). I passed by what looked like a school and it happened to be the time they just finished school, and the area looked very lively. I came across what looked like a “volleyball park” with teens playing volleyball, and there are at least 5 courts inside the compound. I stopped and watched them play for 10 mins before heading for Swensen’s for ice-cream. I returned to the hotel after a satisfying Sundae at Swensen’s.

Walking along the streets of Siem Reap
This is a quiet street in Siem Reap… it felt perfectly safe
Shops selling daily products for the locals
Usual entertainment for the local kids – fishing by the river
Ice-cream time!

Dinner in Siem Reap

Soon it is time for dinner, as I head towards the reception, the owner of the restaurant is already there waiting to drive me for dinner. The restaurant is located in a secluded corner, no street lighting, very inconspicuous. Despite that, there are still people coming to dine at the restaurant. The restaurant only have 5 tables, but it was nearly full!! I came to know about this restaurant from tripadvisor.com. It is rated as #1 restaurant in Siem Reap, all i rad on tripadvisor was that the food is wonderful. I decided to see for myself how wonderful can their food be. The ambience in the restaurant is very relaxing, the smooth lighting matching the relaxing music that was being played, the dinning experience in the restaurant is truly unique. I read that this restaurant is very good for their grills, and the owner also recommended grill, so I ordered steak. The wait for the food is reasonable, as they prepare only when you order it. After the wait, i was shocked at the steak. It is VERY thick!!! for a mere price of USD 6, this is definitely worth it. The same piece of steak in Singapore would cost more then SGD 20. The meat is grilled till tender, and the flavour is in. It is juicy and tasty, on its own the steak already taste good! After managing to stuff the whole piece into my stomach, I called for the bill. The staff gave me a bowl of lime water and a cold tower to wash hand and freshen up! I find the service is very sincere, no wonder people keep going back to the restaurant despite its secluded location. The restaurant owner drove me to night market, as I wanted to get some souvenirs. We chatted on the way to my destination. From the chat, I got to know that the restaurant is wholly family run, and the staffs are actually his siblings. The owner understood the concept of service and instill them into his family helping out in the restaurant. After getting what I was there for, I headed back to the hotel for rest and charge up for the next 3 days of temple ruin visits.

Pre dinner drink
Restaurant Signage
The steak that I had
Was driven to Siem Reap Night Market
Local cultural performance at the night market