>> Wednesday, June 22, 2016
Read Part 1 of our Cambodia trip here.
"I stepped foot in Angkor Wat before McDonalds did."
-A button pin
DAY 2 - TEMPLE DAY TOUR
Tour Guide: $45 for three people
Tuktuk: $15 for three people
Day pass: $20 per person
*Alarm rings at 3:30 AM*
Cerz: (groans) Guys, gising na [wake up].
Edlyn: (complains) Is it really worth it?
Even if we slept early to prepare for the early call time to catch the sunrise at Angkor Wat, waking up at 3AM was a huge chore for the three of us. We unwillingly dragged ourselves out of bed and into our clothes, pondering whether or not the trip to the temple at an ungodly hour was worth it.
The front desk was ready for our groggy selves as they prepared a carbo-loaded breakfast for us to bring to our temple tour. Pastries, white bread, croissants, jam, and half of a banana. Yep, we'll definitely need the carbs, sugar, and potassium to fuel us with the crazy walking tour of the temples of Siem Reap.
We lined up to get day passes, which we had to present to officials for every temple we visited. It was the most precious thing because if we lose our passes, we'll have to pay the fee again, no questions asked.
We walked our way to the outer enclosure (or gate) of Angkor Wat, as the sky started to paint itself a tinge of orange and yellow. Oh boy, the 4AM call time was starting to feel like it was worth it.
We had Mr. Chai as our tour guide for the temple tour. While this is optional, it is an advantage to have someone with you who knows the history of the temples because you'll have someone talk about the carvings o the wall or the meaning of the structures built. You can book your accredited tour guide at the hotel's information desk and choose whatever language you prefer.
At around 6 AM, we were all situated at the open area just after entering the outer enclosure, with the temple and a 'pool' in view. The pool is perfect for those famous reflection shots you see all over the internet. Time to prop your tripod, sit on the grass, and eat your carb breakfast, while waiting for the sun to rise. What a fancy view for breakfast, huh?
Angkor Wat is the most famous religious monument in Cambodia and the largest too. It was originally constructed as a Hindu Temple by King Suryavarman II, but because kings changed over time, some of their beliefs changed to Buddhism so did the design of the temple. The temple walls became the eyes to the changing regimes because it holds so much history and information to Cambodia's history and beliefs.
Our very nice guide, Mr. Chai.
The walls in the temple are filled with intricate carvings of mythology and history. Their carvers have so much talent because the detail on every person or god carved is exquisite.
Walls for days (or centuries)
There was one king who combined his Buddhisim and Hinduism beliefs and it shows in this chinese looking Hindu sculpture
Spot the god
Pro tip #1: NEVER touch the carvings to preserve them or prevent them from fading away in the future.
The challenge started when we climbed the tallest portion of Angkor Wat, Bakan Sanctuary. It is at the middle of the temple and is the place of worship of the monks and religious people. And since Bakan is a religious place, you are required to be respectful of the place and observe the proper etiquette.
One part of Bakan
"We will climb that?!"
*Not pictured: the three of us suffering while climbing the stairs
The religious people were fit for sure because climbing those stairs were the most difficult ever. The steps were narrow, steep, and so high. Mr. Chai said that tourists nowadays are lucky because wooden stairs were placed over the original stairs to (1) preserve the original ones and (2) prevent the tourists from slipping. The wooden stairs have larger steps but it was still steep for me. haha I took it one step at a time because it was not the time and place for me to die because of stairs. Please Hindu gods and Buddha, save me.
Posing and smiling but really we were dying inside
Massive structures + wee little me
The climb was worth it though because it was definitely peaceful and serene up there. The wind found its way through the slots of the walls and cooled us down.
Pro tip #2: While waking around the temple, there are monks who still use Angkor Wat as a place of worship. So be mindful and keep your voice down because it might disrupt their prayers.
What I love about Angkor Wat is that everything is symmetrical. If there is something on the east side of the temple, there will be definitely something on the west side. There is even a marker that indicates the exact center of the temple. The OC in me is very happy.
Visiting Angkor Wat at 5 in the morning was worth it because of the beautiful view at the crack of dawn, and the cool-ish weather while roaming around in the morning. Visiting the temple when the sun is high and up is going to be torture because the temple has lots of open areas and the sun is going to roast you for sure.
If you have trouble waking up in the wee hours of the morning, you can opt for the sunset view. But then, the sun won't be setting in that area. You'll just see the sky change colors and still be able to take pretty photos with the temple from a distance.