Sunday, April 10, 2011

Angkor region - Day 4

The alarm was set for 4:00AM, like on the previous day when rain had spoilt our proposed sunrise trip to Angkor Wat. I drew the curtains and peered outside apprehensively. Dry road. No rain. Yipee..!! Tula Kut turned up punctually to pick us up at 5:00AM. It was relatively cool outside compared to the day temperatures. We reached Angkor Wat by around 05:20AM. We wished we had brought a torch, since it was dark. However, we followed a couple of people who were carrying torches and walked in over the causeway and into the temple complex. It was still very dark and quiet, and we had about an hour before sunrise. We found a good spot by the pool of water in front of the temple complex and settled in.

The sky started lightening up a few minutes before sunrise.

And then suddenly, it was the 'Aha' moment. The orange ball suddenly appeared over the temple, causing a flutter among the crowd which by now had swelled to about a hundred people standing and sitting around the pool.

Zoomed out view of sunrise.

A few minutes later the sun is well on its way up and it is getting brighter in the temple complex.

We wander around a bit, admiring the library, the Naga balustrades and the peaceful atmosphere in the gardens.

An armless Vishnu statue stands near the western exit. It was strange to learn during our trip about ancient Cambodia having suffered from the impact of religious destruction. The Khmers are such gentle people.

One can't but help but feel good while in Angkor Wat. 

Huge 7-headed Naga figures line the outer part of the  complex. 

We head out through the western door and back over the causeway.

The ride back to Siem Reap was comfortable in the morning sun and gentle breeze.

The breakfast at Golden Temple Hotel was large, and colourful, as usual. 

It was time to take it easy for a while and head back into town. We refuelled, drove around pretty Siem Reap, and visited the Govt handicraft store.

A few minutes at the memorial in Siem Reap reminded us of the horrors of the past. 

The adjoining monastery  was, in contrast, peaceful and provides hope for the present and the future. 

The large golden Buddha statue inside the quiet prayer hall.

Paintings depicting the 'Jataka' stories of the life of Buddha.

Parked in the shade, talking about the past and the present. 

After a bit of shopping at the Old Market, we headed to Khmer Kitchen Restaurant for lunch. Pub Street is relatively quiet during the afternoon. Khmer Kitchen is under the same management as Golden Temple Hotel.

The streets around Pub Street and the river leading to the Visitor Centre and on to the temple sites beyond have been maintained very well. These areas are particularly pleasant, well preserved to attract tourists.

It's very tempting to walk around or cycle around. Maybe next time.

The rest of the afternoon was spent relaxing in the hotel. 

We watched the Angkor civilization DVD that the hotel had thoughtfully provided in the room. 

Chairs are laid out on the balcony from where you can watch the city around you. 

Dinner was at the Soup Dragon at the entrance of Pub Street. The location is very good, the service was rather indifferent. 

Food was served in bowls made of banana leaves, reminded me of South Indian traditions.

The staff at Golden Temple Hotel wanted a photo with us. We would be off the next morning, to PP.

The pool area and the gardens are subtly lit up.  

Extremely peaceful air about the property.

View of the reception area at night.

Among the restaurants, Khmer Kitchen Restaurant on Pub Street was our top pick and Khmer Family Restaurant on the alley was also very good. 

Tula Kut, our tuk-tuk driver (introduced by a regular visitor to Cambodia), was an amazingly gentle and cheerful gentleman, always on time. He can be reached at +855 972 487 022 and +855 922 255 64.

We found Mr Sovann Koth to be a knowledgeable tour guide who knew the mythological connections very well. He can be reached at

There are many more sites to visit, and the sites we visited could be studied in greater detail. We only need an excuse to get back to the enigmatic Angkor region and the wonderful Khmer people.

Our hotel had helped us reserve bus tickets to PP the next morning.  PP would surely be different from SR and the Angkor region, another facet of life in Cambodia. We were due to meet our tour assistants on arrival at the bus stop. Our two days in PP would provide us a glimpse into the harsh realities of Cambodia over the past forty years.


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