A Trip to Cambodia

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October 3, 2011

My good friend, Natasha from Canada is visiting me this week in Bangkok. Natasha was my college-mate from university days, and we used to live in the same building in Toronto.  This being her third trip to the Land of the Smiles, she asked if we could venture outside of the country to one of the neighboring countries.  I suggested we visit Cambodia, as I’ve always wanted to see Angkor Wat and other amazing ancient temples in Siem Reap.

  

Rainbow above Bakheng Hill temple

After arriving on Friday evening and checking into Sofitel hotel (which was really nice by the way), we decided to go check out our first temple at Bakheng Hill.  Our driver suggested we go to this temple because of the great view at sunset. At our arrival to the base of the mountain where the temple was situated, we immediately got swarmed with little kids trying to sell us souvenirs.  I had never seen someone try so hard to make a sale! They wouldn’t let up if you didn’t buy something. I ended up getting 2 bracelets, a fridge magnet, and 2 Angkor Wat history books.  My friend and I also decided to buy raincoats, as it is now rainy season in Cambodia and we were sure to get wet.

Luckily, the weather held up, and we witnessed one of the most beautiful sunsets I had ever seen in my life! There were many tourists from all over the world, just sitting there, waiting for the sun to set and taking pictures of the glowing skyline. It really was breath taking!  Suddenly, just as we were climbing down, I looked up and saw a rainbow panning over the sky just above the temple!  That was an amazing sight to witness! Natasha and I just stood there looking up at the sky taking in the beauty.

For dinner we went to a Cambodian restaurant with a traditional dance show. I was amazed at how similar Cambodian culture is to that of Thailand. The music, dancing, costumes and food were almost identical.

Natasha and I at Angkor Wat

Natasha and I at Angkor Wat

On Saturday, we set off to see all the major attractions of Siem Reap. We started off with Angkor Wat.  It is very grand and magnificent, but had some construction going on, thereby obscuring the best views for taking photos.  We had a guide, and he explained to us all the history and legends surrounding this ancient landmark.

At Wat Ta Prohm

At Wat Ta Prohm

Next temple was, what the locals and tourists now refer to as Tomb Raider temple. Its real name is Wat Ta Prohm but has been practically renamed after the big Hollywood film starring Angelina Jolie.  This was the temple where scenes of the movie were filmed.  I have to say, this was my favorite temple of the entire trip!  It had something so special about it – it was serene – like out of some fairytale.  I loved the giant trees and their roots spilling out over the ruins. I could really feel the history and the energy present there.

 

The last temple visit of the day was to Wat Bayon.  I like this temple a lot also, because it has smiling Buddha faces all around.

Panoramic view of Wat Ta Prohm

Panoramic view of Wat Ta Prohm

On our last day, we rented bikes and rode around the city, stopping by to take photos and to buy some local art.  I bought a beautiful Buddha image to hang on the wall at home.

For the third day in a row we were lucky with the weather and we didn’t even end up using our raincoats once!

I’m so happy I finally got to visit Cambodia, and it left a very good impression on me.  The Cambodian people are just as lovely and hospitable as the Thais.  The country and its people had been through many hardships in the past, but I hope their future is bright and happy.

Wat Bayon

Wat Bayon

Wat Bayon

Wat Bayon

 

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