Angkor What? The Ancient Temples of Siem Riep

Thirty-six hours of bus travel later, John and Cat said goodbye to Thailand and hello to Cambodia where our first stop was Siem Riep, home of the famous Angkor Wat. We were excited to see the famous temple of Angkor Wat, but what we didn’t realize is that the Angkor complex consists of over twenty temples each unique and built for a specific purpose. We spent two days seeing as much as we could and dodging countless selfie sticks in the process.

From viewing the sunset among the haunting stone faces at Bayon Temple, to starting the day with the sunrise over the incredible Angkor Wat to climbing around the Ta Prohm (often called the Tomb Raider Temple as it has been overtaken by the jungle growth that surrounds it), the temples, while crowded with tourists, were incredible beautiful. One of our favorite temples was Banteay Srei which is actually 30 kilometers away from Angkor Wat. This temple is renowed for its beautiful carvings that are said to be so meticulously carved that they could only have been done by the delicate hands of a lady. Unfortunately, the heavy crowds of tourists – many of which were wielding more than one camera – made it sometimes difficult to appreciate the serenity of these thousand year old places of worship.

Siem Riep is also home to Pub Street, a small outpost of traveller decadence in an otherwise pretty buttoned up tourist scene. Cat and John danced their faces off at the landmark Angkor What? over a plastic pail of frozen punch and the sweaty dancefloor and neon painted walls made for a wild night after a day spent temple gazing. Short of playing Freedom ’98 on repeat, the scene on the dancefloor was as close as these two had been to a Chi Gam dance party since our last Dartmouth Homecoming weekend.

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