Cambodia – Siem Reap
My first stop was Siem Reap. Siem Reap means Siam (Thailand) defeated. An ironic name considering that ultimately Siam overran Angkor. Nevertheless it was the site of an earlier victory in their battles with Siam and of great historical significance to Cambodia.
Seam Reap is, of course, the place to go to see the temples of Angkor Wat.
Arriving at the airport I joined the queue for visa on arrival, a slow if straight forward process.
However the staff were somewhat confused about me not having an (airport) exit stamp from Laos.
I did have such a stamp, just that I exited Laos by land. This was easily cleared up and I was on my way.
Angkor Wat was built in the reign king Suryavarman II in the early 12th century as his state temple and capital city. It was actually first a Hindu temple, before becoming a Buddhist one. It is the world’s largest religious building.
I stayed just 1 1/2 days in Siem Reap, which I have to say is really not enough.
I was at the temple for both sunset and sunrise, the former being the more special but going for the later means less tourists and the chance to explore the temple before the mass arrival of tourists relatively speaking. Walking around this time can be a magical experience as the sun starts to rise and the shadows and beams of sunshine through the passageways and windows.
My visit was more the special because of the kindness of my friend Lidy who drove me around when she wasn’ t working and in the evenings. She drove me to Angkor Wat and then to a place to eat.
Siem Reap is a small lovely town but there is not much to do in the evenings. However we visited the notorious Martini bar as there was not an abundance of options. Lidy explained to me that a ‘good’ girl would not normally go to such places. And it was easy to see why. Famous for its prostitutions, ‘working girls’ were in abundance and any foreigner going in a lone will be fought over. Being with Lidy I was left alone. Lidy invited Melea to also come and we had a great time talking. I am indebted to both for making my trip so special.