We’re enjoying Cambodia with ancient temples at Angkor Wat and bamboo trains in Battambang! ‘Wonder is nourishment for the soul.’
Angkor Wat is the biggest religious monument in the world. It is Cambodia’s symbol and main attraction and is protected and constantly being restored. It is a Hindu & Buddhist temple that is 900 years old. Essentially it is a Temple City which is exactly what Angkor Wat means. There is so much history behind this ancient city so I’ll summarize a little of what I know now. The temple was constructed by several kings from the 8th to 13th centuries for the Hindu god, Vishnu. This was the old capital city of Cambodia. All of the sandstone rock structures have carvings and the buildings themselves were made to celebrate the mythological gods. There’s so much detail,architecture, and meaning behind every structure. We saw and learned the meanings carved in the walls that depicted a war where the Cambodians and the Chinese worked together to defeat the Chams who came from Vietnam. There are smiling faces made of stone on many structures for kindness and lotus flowers for purity (of mind, body, and speech)and also spirituality. The temple is almost like a maze, there’s hallways, courtyards, and hidden rooms all throughout the rock buildings. Today the structure of the temple is the type of design for all types of Khmer architecture throughout Cambodia (such as the university I mentioned in Phnom Penh).
This place is huge, we visited 6 of the main areas with our tuk tuk driver hired from our hostel for a 7 hour day trip to the wonderful wonder that is Angkor Wat. At the end of the trip we were so tired from all the walking and stairs. It was truly a magnificent site but one day was definitely enough for us.
The town of Siem Reap is much better than Phnom Penh. There’s markets everywhere, lots of restaurants, and cafes. Our favorite cafe is Footprint Cafe which is a cafe that supports the Cambodian people living in the country side. We’ve started booking hostels/ hotels with pools since Cambodia is so hot and…so we can just splash around when we don’t feel like doing anything.
After Siem Reap we headed to Battambang. Battambang is the 2nd largest city in Cambodia. Here we stayed in a hotel/guest house with a pool a bit outside of the city. They had bikes free for us to use so we used them to get into the city each day. It was really nice being outside of the busy city but still having access to it. And it was even nicer having the freedom of bicycles to go anywhere we wanted and feel like we were doing something semi-normal. We biked to go ride the bamboo train which was originally used by the French and then the locals to get into the city. Now it’s just a tourist attraction but it’s kinda fun riding a little rollercoaster through the Cambodian countryside. Other than the train we mostly just relaxed and ate food in “high end” cafes and restaurants in the city because the local places have started to become ordinary. The high end places are fairly more expensive, decorated nicer, and mostly only cater to tourists however it’s a nice change to live a little fancier than normal in Asia by getting hotel rooms and eating at nicer places.