Heaven on earth: Angkor Wat
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After 11 hours spent between being on the bus or waiting for the bus, I finally arrive in Cambodia. Crossing the border is not difficult. At the exit of Laos, I pay 2 $ for the exit stamp.
I arrive by minivan on the border. I take the backpack and go to the counters. They need a photo and 35 $. Once obtained a visa for 31 days and the entry stamp in Cambodia, I wait for the bus that takes us to Krong Stung Treng where we are divided according to the destination.
I arrive in Siem Reap at about 7 pm. I take a tuk-tuk for $ 2 to go to "Oops Hostel". The hostel is very nice, new, with rooftop and great location: close to the night market and close to pubs and restaurants, ie 2 min. from the so-called "Pubs street". I pay $ 3.50 a night, almost € 3. Great price for a 10-bed dorm.
The next morning I rent a bike for $ 2 and go to the office to buy a ticket to visit the temple complex of Angkor. Be careful because the ticket office is not close to the temples but is located at Angkor Park - address: Street 60, Krong Siem Reap.
Admission prices have increased since 1.02.2017 and vary according to the days:
Ticket Price Old Price New Price
1 Day 20 $ 37 $
3 days 40 $ 62 $
7 days 60 $ 72 $
I buy the entrance for 3 days because the temples to visit are really a lot!
From the centre of Siem Reap to Angkor Wat are 7 km. I start the tour with my friend Luis. We decide to take a guide to understand a little more about the history of this land. The guide costs $ 6 for 1 and a half hours of tour.
Angkor Wat, the largest monument of the Angkor group and the best preserved, is an architectural masterpiece. Its perfection in composition, balance, proportions, reliefs and sculpture make it one of the most beautiful monuments in the world.
Wat is the Khmer name of the temple, which was probably added to "Angkor" when it became a Theravada Buddhist monument, most likely in the sixteenth century. After 1432, when the capital moved to Phnom Penh, Angkor Wat was cared for by Buddhist monks.
It is thought that Angkor Wat was a funerary temple for King Suryavarman II and oriented to the west to conform to the symbolism between sunset and death. The bas-reliefs, designed for left-to-right viewing in the Hindu funeral order, support this function.
I am very satisfied with both the guide and the Temple. Truly a masterpiece of a unique beauty. I would remain here to observe it for hours and hours.
It is now 3 pm so after taking a fresh coconut, given the temperature that reaches 34 degrees, we head to see the sunset at the temple Phnom Bakheng.
Phnom Bakheng is a Hindu and Buddhist temple and is shaped like a mountain temple representing Mount Meru (home of the gods of Hinduism).
Dedicated to Shiva, it was built at the end of the ninth century, during the reign of King Yasovarman (889-910). Located at the top of a hill, it is today a popular tourist spot for sunset views of the much larger temple, Angkor Wat, which is located in the jungle about 1.5 km to the southeast.
The next day we continue with the tour but this time we rent a scooter for $ 10 since the temples are many and the distance is huge.
We visit then the Angkor Thom.
Angkor Thom (literally: "Great City"), was the last and most enduring capital of the Khmer empire. It was established in the late 12th century by King Jayavarman VII. It covers an area of 9 km², inside which there are several monuments of the previous eras and those established by Jayavarman and his successors. In the centre of the city is the Jayavarman state temple, the Bayon, with other important sites clustered around the Victory Square immediately to the north.
Bayon caught particularly my attention. Its most distinctive feature is the multitude of serene and smiling stone faces on the numerous towers that protrude from the upper terrace and cluster around its central peak. It has been described as "the most striking expression of the Baroque style" of the Khmer architecture, in contrast to the classical style of Angkor Wat.
Completed the circle with the main temples now is the turn of the largest circle with 12 temples.
Among those who have struck me the most there is the Ta Prohm: unlike most of the Angkorian temples, Ta Prohm is in the same condition as it was found: the photogenic and atmospheric combination of the trees growing out of the ruins and the jungle surroundings one of the most popular temples among Angkor visitors. In 1992 it was included in the UNESCO list as a world heritage. Also, the Tomb Raider tree was filmed where the film was shot with Angelina Jolie.
Other temples I recommend not to miss are Preah Khan, Ta Som, Neak Poan, East Mebon and Pre Rup from where you can see the sunset. P.S Absolutely not to be missed is the sunrise at Angkor Wat. We must wake up at 4:30 am in such a way as to leave for 5 am and arrive in time so as not to lose any shade of the sky with the sunrise. Beautiful!
It has been an intensive stay here. I've visited many temples and the heat certainly did not help. But I am very happy for having the opportunity to visit the capital of the temples of Asia and the epicentre of the Khmer empire, also called the "paradise on earth".