Sunday, March 18, 2012

Days Two and Three at Angkor Wat

Preah Kahn
Preah Kahn

We finished up our first day at Angkor Wat exhausted and sweaty and knew that we needed a new game plan for our second day.  We decided to take advantage of the cooler morning weather by separating from our group (which was meeting at 9 am) and striking out earlier on our own.  We were lucky to find Mr. Buntey, a great tuk-tuk driver who stayed with us all day.  When we arrived at our first temple, Preah Kahn, we knew that we had made a good decision.  We had the place almost completely to ourselves.  We saw four more temples in the morning and then headed back to Siem Reap before noon for a four hour siesta that included some napping, relaxing, and Mexican food!

Mr. Buntey picked us up again just before 4 pm to head back to the temples.  We had enough time to wander through another temple before making our way to a sunset spot on the southwestern wall of Angkor Thom.  David had read about this fabulous spot that doesn't have the throngs of tourists found elsewhere.  With only one other person at our secret spot, it was a winner!

On our third morning we had just enough time for one more sunrise before leaving on a bus for Bangkok.  Crazy, I know, but it was so worth it.  Possibly my favorite memory from Angkor Wat!  We chose one of our favorite temples, the "jungle temple" of Ta Prohm, and arrived just as the sky was showing the first glimmers of twilight.  We were the only ones there and it was as if the temple was all ours  You really felt the mystery and majesty (and spookiness) of the place.  What it must have felt like years ago!

If you plan a trip to Angkor Wat, here are our tips to get the most out of the experience:
  • On the first morning, go to Angkor Wat temple for sunrise.  Watching the sun rise behind the temple is breathtaking and really gets you ready for that first magical day of exploring!
  • Avoid the heat!  If you are there in the hot season, go early to the temples, siesta in the afternoon, and go back in the evening for another temple and sunset.  The temples are less crowded early in the mornings and late in the afternoons, and the temperatures much more bearable.
  • If you want to avoid the crowds, watch sunset on the southwestern wall of Angkor Thom.  You can find a map and description here.
  • Pick your favorite temple and go for a second visit at sunrise.  You can explore it all alone and take fantastic photos in the morning light!

Ta Prohm at dawn

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