This is part 1 of a 4 part series on my visit to Siem Reap, Cambodia. In Part 2, we’ll head to Angkor Thom.
Siem Reap, Cambodia. A land of crumbling stones, prolific ruins, twisted trees and ancient seeds of power. It’s a magical experience to freely wander such a place and observe the remnants of empires past.
When originally arriving in Bangkok, Thailand, I entered the Suvarnabhumi airport getting a Visa on Arrival for 30 days. Right before this 30 days was up, I visited immigration within Bangkok to extend for another 30 days at 1,900 Thai Bhat (about $56).
After the second 30 days was up, I visited immigration in Chiang Mai, Thailand (the quintessential digital nomad ground zero). I was told (much to my surprise), I had to leave the country and visit an embassy outside of Thailand to renew. This conflicted what I originally read on the official Thai website about tourist Visa’s. Slight panic, as I had 48 hours to figure something out and leave the country, including my apartment/stuff. After weighing the options of Vietnam, Laos, Malaysia or Myanmar I decided upon Siem Reap, Cambodia. In which I could simply exit Thailand, then re-enter for another 30 day tourist Visa extension. I turned this into staying four nights to visit Angkor Wat and the surrounds ruins. Over lunch I got a good a tip from Rashad over at Banker in the Sun, to checkout the Golden Mango Inn. So this is where I booked ($25/night via Hostelworld.com).
I took a plane from Chiang Mai to Bangkok via Thai Lion Air for $38. Then from Bangkok to Siem Reap Cambodia via AirAsia for $133.
In Cambodia, U.S. dollars (as shown for menu prices below) are the preferred currency, even over the Cambodian Riel.
The room was super clean and even had a bathtub, something I hadn’t seen in a while.
Right downstairs was a tasty restaurant with authentic Khmer cuisine, $6/USD hour massage, courtyard area and pool. Pictured below is Dragonfruit and a Rambutan.
After getting situated, the next order of business was to grab a Tuk Tuk and depart for some ruinous temple exploring.
It was a wild and crazy Tuk Tuk ride, but nowhere near as bad as Varanasi, India.
The Ruins of Angkor Wat
According to Wikipedia, the temple complex of Angkor Wat is the largest religious monument in the world, built in the early 12th century. This incredible structure was originally Hindu in origin, said to have been built in devotion to Vishnu. One legend claims the entire complex was constructed in a single night, by divine province. Towards the end of the 12th century, the Khmer Empire converted the grounds into a Buddhist temple.
Upon arriving there were two very obvious lines into the ruins, and a handful of “hello my friend I give you tour” approaching. My goal was to find a quiet spot to exchange energy, meditate and walk at my own pace.
I circumvented both lines undetected, hopping up onto a ledge, following the length of the building, and climbed into a window!
This provided the reflective peace and quiet I was hoping for. While meditating and humming, the walls reverberated and in the stillness, stone carved deities began to take on life of their own. My pentacle pendant which I previously charged in the Ganges river by the Himalayas in Rishikesh, India, I now imbued with energy from this ancient structure in Cambodia. Taking a stroll down ancient corridors while listening to your favorite tribal drumming music is completely exhilarating. It was a peak experience.
I made up a secret single player game to spice things up while taking this red shemagh scarf photo, entitled:
MISSION: Capture the Scarlet Omegahedron enshrined within the Buddha’s sacral root.
Later that night after many more temples, I came all the way back a second time, to catch the sunset before promptly collapsing back at my room from dehydration, sunburn and fatigue. Within the distant fading of the sun, I saw orange robed Buddhist monks walking out of the temple ruins and posing for photos by the water.
A video walkthrough I filmed of Angkor Wat.
Afterwards, I went outside to find my driver for the day who had moved his spot. In come the million assaults of ‘Taxi my friend”, “Tuk Tuk”, to the point of ridiculousness. The level of insistence and persistence on their part was legendary, considering how many times I said no, while wandering under the scorching sun to find him.
This majestic temple, was only the beginning of a long day of discovery……
This is part 1 of a 4 part series on my visit to Siem Reap, Cambodia. In Part 2, we’ll head over to Angkor Thom.