After our slightly stressful arrival into Cambodia, we arrived in Siem Reap and our French owned accommodation - The Dancing Frog Hostel. We were really excited to be there as it would be the first of our proper tourist destinations - with a trip to the amazing Temples of Angkor! We watched a programme (although I did turn over to watch Strictly half way, oops) on these temples before we left the UK, so we couldn't wait to see them in person!
The Temples of Angkor are the largest religious monument in the world, with many of them now in ruins and overgrown with jungle, they're a pretty impressive sight! After settling in to the area, we hired a tuk tuk and driver for the day, to take us around some of the best known and most impressive temples. There are over one thousand sites and temples across the Angkor area, all in varying stages of ruin - some complete rubble and some still standing. We heard it's best to get between the temples via tuk tuk (a kind of taxi, like a trailer pulled on the back of a motorbike...), although our guide book did suggest cycling?! No way was I attempting to cycle those distances in this heat!
Our first day consisted of seeing some of the slightly smaller temples. I was surprised with how close you're able to get to the ruins. You just walk on through these crumbling temples, up ruined steps and through half collapsed corridors. In the UK it would be health and safety and conservation crazy, there's no way you'd be allowed near! But I'm glad that Cambodia see the appeal of being able to get this close - it's amazing to experience. I was also really pleased to see that every tourist was so considerate with the sites too, there was no litter or grafitti or anything like that. See UK, we can be allowed near something and not completely destroy it!
My favourite temple was called Ta Prohm, also known as the Tomb Raider Temple - where Ange/Lara Croft was famously filmed back in 2000. It was just like walking onto the set of a film, jungle trees and vines were crawling over the ruins and breaking through massive pieces of stone. We spent ages wandering around the site, possibly getting slightly lost at one point, amazed at the power of nature. Even if you're not interested in the rest of the temples, or temples in general, I would recommend making a special trip to this one if you're ever in Siem Reap.
After a full day of temples and ruins we headed back to our hotel, but first asked our driver to pick us up the following day... at 4.30am. Still jetlagged, we didn't get much sleep before 2am so we were in a bit of a daze at that time in the morning! After a sleepy tuk tuk ride back to the site, we entered the main temple - Angkor Wat. We were almost scammed once again as soon as we stepped over the temple threshhold - an official looking man had planted himself infront of a monument and was charging $10 for incense sticks to offer to the relic, implying that it was compulsory before entering. It's not complusory, but he managed to convince the people in front of us anyway. We found our way in the dark to where a large group of people had gathered, then were sleepily lead to a little makeshift cafe with the lure of coffee and a 5am pancake. After eating we planted ourselves in a good spot in front of a lovely lake lying in front of the main temple, then waited. The sunrise was lovely, despite there being a few clouds in the sky, the colours were amazing! I'm definitely glad we decided to make the early start to experience it. After the sun had risen, we explored the rest of the temple in the light which was lovely because it hadn't yet gotten too hot. Since we hadn't slept well at all, we were shattered after walking round the temple, so decided to head back to bed - we were asleep again before 8am!
Looking back on these photos, I can't believe I was there in person just a week or so ago - it was such an incredible experience. In my opinion, every trip or holiday to Cambodia has to include a visit to The Temples of Angkor.