Angkor – The city of temples

Siem Reap is our next destination. The 2 main attractions here are Angkor Wat and the fish pedicure… Let’s visit the temples instead of having our feet devoured by small sardines!


Angkor Wat is the world largest religious monument with an estimated surface of 162 hectares (even bigger if we listen to the current news!).

Built in the 12th century by the Khmer king Siruyavarman II, Angkor Wat was created to be the state temple and the king’s mausoleum.

Originally a hindu temple, it was turned into a buddhist one by the end of the 12th century.

Visiting this site, we realized how the Khmer civilization must have been grandiose at that time…

Entrance tickets barely in our pockets, we hurry to the main temple, Angkor Wat, to enjoy the sunset….

Angkor Wat, a full rainbow followed by a nice sunset, we couldn’t ask for better!


As we’re kicked out by the guards, we swear we will be back the day after to see the sunrise and explore this stunning temple… Hopefully the morning sunlight will be as pretty as the sunset on Angkor Wat.

Sunrise on Angkor Wat

At 4.45am, we are at the gate, waiting for the guards to open the doors. It’s still dark but already hot, we’re not totally awake but so excited that it feels like 10am for us!

Gates open, tickets are checked and we have the chance to be the first on-site. We must choose our spot quickly but carefully, we won’t have another chance, Chinese are behind!

And then we wait

Little by little, the sun wakes up and we admire the colors changing in the sky, Angkor Wat gradually appearing and standing out of the dark blue background behind it. Such an amazing sight….


Good spot, right?

We stayed there for 1.30h, just starring at Angkor Wat. We couldn’t get bored by this sight, the colors getting brighter and brighter while the temple’s architectural details revealed themselves slowly. So neat.

Now that the sun is up, we walk closer and enter the temple, discovering sculptures of nymphs called Apsara. They are everywhere but none of them has the same traits…


Columns, corridors, stairs, buddha statues, carvings representing war battles or daily activities in the kingdom, once you start paying attention, you discover plenty of details surprisingly well-preserved.


In the Jungle at sun peak

We leave Angkor Wat to explore Angkor Thom. Once a city, Angkor Thom has been forgotten and abandoned to the jungle before French colons rediscover it and restore part of the place. During the Khmer rouge period, temples have suffered as religion was forbidden, monks slaughtered and sacred places destroyed.

But still, you can feel the glorious past of this place right from the entrance gate, made of warriors carrying a giant snake. Stage is set!

We head to Ta Prohm temple while the sun is high above our heads. This temple has been completely taken over by the jungle: trees have grown inside the walls, Buddha carvings are hidden in the roots and huge tree trunks add their touch of majesty to the sacred place. Hopefully, we’ll find some shade here…


We feel so small at those trees feet… unfortunately, their presence here is temporary. One would have to cut them to preserve the temple’s structure, already weakened by their roots. We take our time in that place, knowing that it won’t last, just appreciating the present moment, quiet and full of butterflies.

Sunset at Bayon

Last on our itinerary: Bayon. This is an intriguing temple as it is covered by a multitude of huge smiling stone faces. 204 of them keeping watch at each compass point. Like Mona Lisa, you have the impression they are looking at you wherever you stand…

Vagabondays-36We try to imagine this site at its glorious times and how it surely was mega-impressive for a 13th century Khmer peasant coming here for the first time…


Less classical than Angkor Wat, Bayon is located at the center of the former city and represents the intersection of heaven and earth. It’s also known for its impressive bas-reliefs representing historical events. Some say there are more than 11,000 carved figures in its 1.2 km walls… We dive into the temple corridors, looking for carvings of Khmer legends until the sun sets down…


… which was worth the wait.


Once the sun is set, we’re asked to leave even if we could have stayed for hours, admiring those impressive remains and wishing we could travel back in time to experience this site at its liveliest period…

As described on the Unesco website, “Angkor is a major site exemplifying cultural, religious and symbolic values, as well as containing high architectural, archaeological and artistic significance.” Hopefully, the recent technologies and enthusiasts archeologists will be able to dig dipper into this site and discover more about the Khmer civilization that seemed to be a very powerful and glorious one…

We’ll stay tuned!



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