After an early morning viewing followed by breakfast at the hotel, we headed back to Angkor Wat again, this time to view it under a high sun and blue skies. We had a full day of temples ahead of us, too. Because Semester at Sea docks in each port for such a limited amount of time, they really manage to pack everything in on our ISE trips; all of our days ran from before sun up to well after sun down.
While sunrise at Angkor Wat was impressive, I much preferred the site in broad daylight. It was almost too dark when we were there at 5am to observe any of the fine detailing of the 12th century temple, like the countless stone carvings on the walls, both inside and out.
Angkor is a temple complex comprising nearly 400 square miles—the largest pre-industrial city in the world—and is situated just a couple of miles from the center of Siem Reap. Angkor Wat, of course, is the most well-known of the temples.
As we wandered the periphery, SVV scored some black makeup off a little girl and used it to do some rubbings of the glyphs on the inner walls of the temple. That’s the biggest difference with the sites in Cambodia versus any major U.S. point of interest: There was no one there to yell at us and say touching the walls was forbidden. In fact, there were very few rules at all. Can you imagine if he had tried to do this anywhere in the United States, let alone at an ancient structure that dated back nearly a millennium?
What no one tells you before you go—at least I was never told as much—is just how steep the climb is into the main tower of Angkor Wat and how much walking it would require just to reach that point. I’m not even afraid of heights and I was clinging onto the bannister out of fear that I would go tumbling down the side.
Another thing to note is that if you want to go all the way up, not only do your shoulders have to be covered, but they must be covered by actual sleeves and not just a scarf, as is allowed by many other sites. Luckily, our tour guide told us as much, so all of us girls bought $2 T-shirts at the night market the previous evening so we’d be allowed up.
Also, we were at Angkor at the end of October, and it was hot as the dickens out. I can’t imagine how it must feel during actual summer. Wearing sleeves and pants was painfully sweaty, and SVV had to buy a bamboo hat at one of the stalls to keep the sun from scorching his face.
Once at the top of the temple, it’s rather anti-climactic. There’s not a whole lot to see actually, and the views are much better from ground level (in my opinion).
We were given two hours to roam around the Angkor Wat grounds. This was more than enough time to see the one temple, though bear in mind, it’s a huge place and takes about 15 minutes to reach the main temple from the entrance. The moat that surrounds the complex alone is more than two miles.
And for those of you who guessed that I might have done a jumping shot at Angkor Wat, well…you were right.
And this was just our first stop of the day, too. We still had a good five temples to go…and I was already starting to experience a smidge of temple fatigue.
Not into historical vacations like Angkor Wat? Consider accommodation in Yorkshire for your next getaway instead if you require a country escape.
One of the few places that does not disappoint. Great photos.
I will DEFINITELY have to visit this next year when I’m in South East Asia.
I would allot more time for the other temples and just make a quick stop at Angkor Wat. There were many other more interesting (and less crowded) temples that were part of the complex!
One of the locations that is on my “places I must visit before I die” list. 😛
I can’t wait to see the rest of the temples! While it is the most famous, Angkor Wat isn’t really my favorite. Bayon and Ta Prohm all the way!
I’m with you. The one with all the smiling Buddhas was by far my favorite.
Perfect setting for a wide-angle lens. Excellent photos!
What an amazing place. The steps remind me of Chichen Itza. Why the shoulders covered? Would love to see SVV’s rubbings. Couldn’t have gotten away with that in the USA.
I’m still not sure about the shoulders given that it’s not a place of religious worship.
HAVE to get there one of these days. Love the pictures!
As always, absolutely beautiful pictures.
I love the way everyone in all the pictures looks so colorful against the grey temple- so striking!
I did that climb up the temple about 5 years ago and there was no bannister/stair structure set up. We actually had to climb those narrow stone stairs. Most people were actually crawling up them!
Funny, we watched some British travel show on Angkor Wat before going, and the host and all these tourists were scampering up the rocks on their hands and knees, so I was fully expecting to do that…then we got there, and there were actual stairs! I wonder when/why they changed that.
Love this virtual trip I’ve been taking the past few months … 🙂 And — how do you always look so effortlessly stylish no matter where you are? You are amazing, woman!
Haha, I was a sweaty, hot mess on this particular day, but I appreciate the nice words nonetheless =)
I can’t imagine 400 square miles of temple. They’re so impressive.
Amazing. Your photos are beautiful and the stairs leading up look terrifying.
I loved Angkor Wat and there are so many amazing photo options!
This is such an amazing place to visit. I’ve personally been three times. I really like how you’ve captured different angles and vantage points in this photo essay.
How awesome that they let you experience the temple so thoroughly! And your jumping picture looks like you just jumped off the wall to your doom.
That was actually the next jumping shot at Bayon, where I landed between two stones and managed to scar my foot. (I’m the epitome of grace.)
Thanks for the step by step tour… addresses all the kinds of things I like knowing before going somewhere… Isn’t it weird how much the lighting can affect a place?
i didnt ‘guess’ you had a jumping pic, i ‘knew’you did it! 😉 😉
You were exactly who I was referencing! You know me too well =)
im in shock you did it barefoot though…so im still learning new things about you. always do SHOES!!!!!! rockstar jumping isn’t for the light hearted, bleeding is guaranteed when you dont have shoes! at least you were pampered by SVV when you got back on the ship 😉
When I think of making a “rubbing” relief, I always think of the Vietnam Memorial in DC. I would have never thought to do that with the glyphs!
It is true though, that you don’t see many people trying to make relief on sites in America, or being allowed to anyway. Although, to be fair, do we really have anything worth a rubbing? Any “ancient” writing in our country is at most 300 years old. I’m not sure anything written in ye olde English is worth the rubbing, compared to glyphs at least!
Ha, you are so right! We went all the way out to Pompeys Pillar in Billings to see William Clark’s signature, which was nothing more than old-school graffiti =) Scott said, “what an American thing to do…show up at a place and have to add your signature to some ancient petroglyphs just to prove you were here!”
Wow, it’s changed since I was there! You’ve made me realise how long ago that was! (No steps or handrails…)
There are NO words!
Thanks for the virtual tour, It looks like an amazing place to visit!