Exploring Angkor Wat Temple : Cambodia (Apr’04)

10th April 2004 / This was my first trip to Angkor Wat Temple in Siem Reap, Cambodia.

angkor wat

My Walking Story :

Today I am going to describe my trip to Cambodia in April’04 and as I told in my previous stories that in 2003, I visited Thailand for the first time, this was my first or second trip to the other country. As Cambodia is near to Thailand on the edge of the border, while at that time I use to search nearby places to Thailand where I can travel by bus where expenses will be less. Due to the Songkran festival which is Thai New Year’s national holiday and at that time I planned along with my few friends that we’ll go to Cambodia.

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I was new in traveling one can say and has no idea of anything else as at that time there was no phone. Internet or any social media world where one can spend time or work something else. We plan to go to Siem Reap because there was a huge temple name Angkor Wat. This was a famous temple and I would like to tell you more about it, Angkor Wat was first a Hindu temple which is dedicated to the Hindu god Vishnu, then subsequently Angkor Wat became a Buddhist temple by the end of the 12th century, while the temple is complex in Cambodia and the largest religious monument in the world.

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Angkor is one of the most important archaeological sites in South-East Asia. Stretching over some 400 km2, including forested area, Angkor Archaeological Park contains the magnificent remains of the different capitals of the Khmer Empire, from the 9th to the 15th century. They include the famous Temple of Angkor Wat and, at Angkor Thom, the Bayon Temple with its countless sculptural decorations. UNESCO has set up a wide-ranging program to safeguard this symbolic site and its surroundings.

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I still remember that we catch a bus from Bangkok at night and in the morning time we reach the Cambodia border and we took our visa from there. Cambodia is not a developed country so over their situation and many facilities were not available, and buses were also not in good condition. From the border, we must go to Siem Reap by bus, while the concerned person said that the bus will take 3-4 hours of time to reach Siem Reap.

The weather was too hot over there in south-east Asia just like India. I remember that the road was in a very bad condition since from the starting of the border side including potholes, up and down, etc. Actually, we took a bus from Phnom Penh which is the capital of Cambodia. Oh My God! It was terrific traveling by bus because of the bad condition of the road, everyone in the bus was shaking and could not able to sit even stable at a seat. Whole-body got to shake up and I am talking about 2004 as currently, I am sure the situation has changed.

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As I did not visit again but heard about it. While the bus driver uses to stop at various stops pick up the passengers, move ahead and then again stop at another stop, likewise it took the whole day to reach Siem Reap. You know the window of the bus used to be open which make the dust particles enter into the bus, and that was so irritating, and we all were getting dirty as the dust used to come on our face and all. This was making me remind of India’ village condition as over here also vendors come near to bus and try to sell their stuff, just like things happen in India.

I was getting frustrated and was thinking that when I will reach, finally we reach in the evening at around 7-8 pm and I said that the bus driver took the whole day in reaching over here. So, one of my friends knows where the guest house and we went to stay over there as it was affordable for all of us. For dinner, we went into the inbuilt restaurant kind of area in the Guest House and we all had our dinner and went to sleep because of the tiredness of traveling. I remember that next day we bought a ticket for Angkor Wat and the tickets were expensive as they might be near 20 to 25 dollars at that time in 2004.

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As one must purchase a ticket to see the temple. The temple was built in such a huge area that it took a couple of days to explore and understand temple. At that time I don’t think too much and just feeling like I came into a new country so I just want to see the place, we enter the temple along with tickets and an umbrella, as it was too hot to handle the weather and one cannot see because of sunlights.

Like people were searching shadow area to stand in this scorching heat and on an above this temple was built of stones which cannot be touched because of heat. I have captured the images of it, do check it on my blog page. At that time we don’t have a smartphone, so I have clicked the pictures from normal camera phones, which needs to give for development later. We roam in and outside the temple and had our lunch nearby the temple in the restaurant.

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We spend around four to five hours in the temple and then we went to explore another temple which was near to Angkor Wat temple and I remember that I didn’t go inside the temple,  because of the scorching heat which I cannot tolerate anymore, I said my friends that they can go inside the temple as I am not going to join them in this heat and waiting for them at a restaurant. I like the architecture of Angkor Wat; it is remarkable and amazing.

We came back in the evening and there was a place where visitors go to see the sunset. It was a sunset point in the Angkor Wat, from where one can see sunset along with the view of the backside of the temple. Oh, see! I just remember the hilarious staircase to reach the sunset point, the staircase was so dangerous and a long way to walk to reach the point. After that, we came to our room in a tiring condition and went to sleep.

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One very old photo during my trip to Cambodia in 2003. This picture was taken with a normal camera, at that time smartphone was not available I think so. This place is well known as Angkor Wat temple. The largest religious monument in the world.

We plan to revisit Angkor Wat temple at 6 in the morning to see the sunrise, as maximum people visit in the morning to see the sunrise and for the photography. The van which we booked, came to pick up us and we went to the temple, did some photography which includes sunrise and surrounding beauty. We came back to the guest house and had our breakfast and then took a bus for Phnom Penh. As we plan to stay for a single day in Phnom Penh, I was started thinking about the same situation as the bus when I was coming over here but one of the people said that do not to panic as he doesn’t know from which bus we all had to travel.

While going back he will book a van for us and in a van, every person has their specific seat and it was comfortable, in returning van tire got puncher and one cannot see the tree anywhere on the left or right side, it was that much of sunlight’s, hardly got to see one tree and people were running to take shelter from the scorching heat. And it takes more than half an hour in repairing the tire. After that, we reach in the evening at Phnom Penh and somehow find the guest house and went to sleep, then woke up and had our dinner. Further next morning we got fresh and took the bus to Bangkok. This was the end of the trip; it was a nice one to explore every aspect of the place. I hope you like it!



Written by Ajay Kumar
An Indian Living in Bangkok, Thailand. By profession, I am an e-Business Consultant & Entrepreneur. My Hobbies are Traveling & Living a Healthy Lifestyle.