Saturday, May 18, 2013

Quick and Nerdy - Siem Reap, Cambodia

Thanks Meanwhile in Thailand for another great post!



·       The gateway to the ancient city of Angkor Thom and the Angkor Wat temple.

·       The size of Manhattan and with a number of temples that will amaze, there is almost too much to see.
·       A growing, bustling tourist town in the middle of war-torn and scarred country; the reminders of Cambodia’s awful history are everywhere.
·       A lively, touristy downtown area where tourists can gather in the cluster of bars, restaurants and markets. Happy hours can be found for 35 to 50 cents.
·       Cambodia uses the U.S. Dollar as its currency and don’t be surprised when an ATM spits out a hundred (good luck getting change for that). Change, as in coins, comes instead in Cambodia’s currency (Riel), which runs about 4000 KHR to $1.

Sights:

·       This one is obvious, but, Angkor Wat. The main temple is surrounded by a moat that is nearly 1 km by 1 km, while the main temple is 187 m x 215 m. It’s huge. Go early and see the sunrise behind the tall prangs, then stay and explore while its cool.
·       Angkor Thom – lesser known and often confused with Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom is the ancient city of the Khmer people, complete with an exhausting amount of temples, carvings and ruins.

·       Ta Prohm Temple – this is probably the second most famous temple, outside of the main Angkor Wat, even if you’ve never heard the name. This temple was left unrestored by the French, in order to show what the temples looked like when they were re-discovered in the early 20th century. It’s a beautiful mix where nature runs over and into the ruins, famous for the root covered doorway.

·       There are so many other temples, honestly, do a little research and pick a few that interest you and explore.
·       Angkor Museum – it’s a little pricey but air-conditioned and extremely thorough.
·       Land Mine museum – It’s on the way back from Bantreay Srei (a set of carvings in the stone of a flowing river at the top of a challenging hike) and it’s educational, informative and you can feel good about spending money there since the museum supports an orphanage.

Landmine Museum

Get Around:

·       Siem Reap is just a few miles away from Angkor Archaeological Park and most of the main temples, but you can hire a driver of a tuk tuk ($10-$15/day) or a car ($20 - $30). They will know where all the temples are and can give you a slice of history, as well as current Cambodian life. You can also rent bicycles or scooters, if you are feeling more adventurous.

  
Tips:

·       Passes to the park cost $25/day and can be purchased for multiple days. It’s expensive by Cambodian standards and well worth it any currency.
·       There are numerous volunteer opportunities, along with other things to make you feel good. If you don’t have time, don’t worry, your tourists dollars still go a long way to help.
·       Cambodian people are friendly but even more so, they love to spontaneously burst into song. 

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