Asia, Travel

Temples of Siem Reap

Remember my trip to Siem Reap?  I told you I hadn’t done any of the touristy bits, but luckily for me, I had experienced these beautiful temples a decade ago.  I know, I’m old! Since then, the temples of Siem Reap are a massive tourist destination; the way this once sleepy little town has been built up with so many hotels and bars – it’s kind of insane, actually.  But it is what it is and I did say I would post pictures from a very long time ago.  Might as well make this a #tbt post while I am somewhere in East Timor!Temples of Siem ReapSo what brought me to Cambodia back in 2006?  A wedding in Jakarta, Indonesia.  My best friend’s older brother was getting married and I was blessed to have been invited and I jumped at the chance to go? I mean, when else would you get the opportunity to head back to South East Asia (can I just say that this wedding was an wedding that I will never ever forget!)?  So I saved up my pennies from my meager paycheck to attend the wedding of the century! And with that, it was also the holiday to meet up with my then boyfriend, who lived in London.  I was living and working in New York at the time so any chance to meet up was a bonus! And I was also super filled with wanderlust and this wedding was the cure.  But we all know how little days of holidays you get when working in the US, right?  Well, this trip pretty much used up all the leave I had for the year, so might as well make it epic, amiright? Right, so I hatched up this insane itinerary – oh to be young and filled with energy!

I used Bangkok as a base to travel from once in Southeast Asia.  In fact, I was due to spend one night in Singapore back then but I had to cancel Singapore and ended up in Hong Kong for the night instead.  But I am digressing! If I remember correctly, I landed into Bangkok late one night and met up with the then boyfriend who flew in from London.  The next morning, we flew up to Siem Reap for one night, before flying back to Bangkok the following night.  One quick night in Bangkok before flying off to Koh Tao for a couple of nights and then another night in Bangkok before flying to Jakarta.  Jakarta was where the wedding was held, so we hung out there for a few nights, taking part of the festivities and hanging out with friends.  Then it was to Hong Kong for a night before flying back to New York. Phew! I must have been on crack back in the days!

Tonle SapTemples of Siem ReapWe arrived early in the morning and checked into our hotel, the Shinta Mani.  I don’t remember how we came across our guide, maybe it was the hotel that suggested him, but we were given the choice of either doing a tour of the temples in a car or in a tuk tuk.  We chose the car because it had air conditioning and I remember it being hot AF when we were there. And the ex, being English, was definitely not used to the heat. HA.  So we started our tour asap as we were on a tight schedule.

He suggested we head up to Tonle Sap – a large freshwater lake that eventually connects to the Mekong.  At first, I remember not being too fussed about going, but then he explained that it is the home to many of the local residents, where they live in what is known as the floating villages.  There are even crocodiles there! Temples of Siem Reap Temples of Siem Reap Temples of Siem ReapOnce we were done with that tour, we headed back into Siem Reap and we earnestly began hitting the temples.

Angkor WatTemples of Siem ReapGoodness, my photography skills really sucked back then. But sometimes, blurry is better. It’s me being artistic.  Yeah, I’ll go with that…! HA. But the first picture in this post is of Angkor Wat, the 7th Wonder of the World. It was the center of the Khmer Empire from the 9th to the 15th century.  It truly was/is spectacular.

Temples of Siem Reap

Temples of Siem Reap

Ta ProhmTemples of Siem Reap Temples of Siem ReapHow cool is that the trees have grown right through them/up them. When there is a will, there IS a way! 😉Temples of Siem Reap

Angkor Thom/Bayon TempleTemples of Siem ReapThe above picture is the gateway to Angkor Thom.  If you think about it, it’s a majestic entryway to what are my favorite temples – Bayon Temple!  The temples with the faces! It’s not known how many faces there are, but some say as many as 200! Can you imagine the work that went into creating these masterpieces?

Temples of Siem Reap Temples of Siem Reap Temples of Siem ReapHonestly, they just take my breath away.

The BaphuonTemples of Siem ReapGet ready to climb some stairs and don’t be scared, because those stairs were so steep! It was fine to go up, but coming back down was really scary! Ta Bauphon is part of Angkor Thom and you get some majestic views from up above of this ancient city. Temples of Siem ReapGorgeous, no??

There are so many more temples around Angkor .  I only saw the main ones as I was there for such a short amount of time.  And honestly, you don’t want to get “templed” out. When I was there, there weren’t many tourists as you can see from my pictures.  I was able to take pictures with minimal people in them – winning!  If you Google images for these temples now, you’ll notice that at each temple there are throngs of people. It’s insane! And I hear that to get into the area around Angkor, even if you don’t go to the temples,  you do have to pay a daily fee of $20 or you can buy a 3-day pass for $40.  Which honestly, is quite cheap if you think about the expanse of the area you can access/see.

I would love to go and see them again.  Want to come with? 


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  • Oh my goodness Siem Reap looks so beautiful! I never thought that I’d want to visit Asia for anything else but the food, but I would love to visit those beautiful temples! I love Ta Prohm with the tree growing right up through the center of it! That definitely sounds like one epic trip that you had!

    • Girl, you need to get your ass over to this part of the world. There are SOOO many things to see that I know you would love…! Shoot me an email and we’ll brainstorm when you’re ready!!

  • I love these pics! And yes I do!
    Miss you!!

  • Gorgeous pictures,… though those crocs look like they were close!!
    I also love your writing about the story of the wedding, and gives me nostalgia to go back to South East Asia. xx

  • What a beautiful place. And an other memory to remember. 🙂 One of your photos looked like one of the scenes in A. Jolie’s film called Tomb Raider. It’s the place where she saw a little girl.

    • Yes… Tomb Raider was filmed here and in many ways, that movie put Siem Reap on the map…

  • Jen

    Wow what a pretty place!!! I love the photos.

  • Wow, what a really pretty place! I’d love to go.

  • OMG, is this real life? This is SO PRETTY. A lot of this looks reminiscent of Belize. Just plain stunning.

    • Ooh, Belize… That’s one part of the world I’ve not really explored…! Siem Reap is amazing, it’s pure magic!!

  • After 20 years as an airline pilot I’m going to be boring and stay home, but of all the places I’ve been to, I’ve not ever seen anything like that. The faces on the temple are beyond fantastic – and you got to see it in person. Thank you for sharing for this earthbound grandma.

    • Amazing that you were a pilot!! What far flung places did you get to go in your heyday? And hey, I don’t blame you, as soon as I’m done seeing a few more things, I think I’ll hang up my passport as well… 😉 Siem Reap is quite magical for sure!!

      • For the airlines I flew just domestically, but after my last airline went into Chapter 7 I flew as the Captain on a private jet, 1 of 2 owned by an extremely wealthy businessman. With that we went all over the world, on business, on trips and just sometimes to take him to where his 137 foot yacht was it. That was a blast, but I had ZERO social live during that time as I was on call pretty much 24 and 7, though I got some great down days with no activity on various islands all over the world.

        • Oh wow! That is amazing!! Ooh, a private jet..! That’s annoying that you were on call all the time, but I can imagine you got to go to some pretty amazing places!! 🙂

  • Natasha N

    Those boats!! Love them. A friend of mine is from America but grew up in Indonesia, and she always speaks of the region with such fondness.

    • Indonesia is also absolutely amazing, I have not even begun to scratch the surface with Indo… I’ve got a few places on my radar that I need to check out…

  • Little Miss Fashion Queen

    This place is completely beautiful, love all the stunning photos!

    God bless,

    XO, Claire