Wandering In The Kingdom of Wonder
Ahh... Cambodia. There's a reason why people call this the "Kingdom of Wonder" and I think I've found out why. I've never been to a country that made me question and realize a lot of things. All throughout the trip, my curiosity was constantly piqued by everything I've experienced.
After KL, my friend and I bid adieu to our room (I'll miss seeing the KL skyline), and our new English friends, Isaac and his dad. Then we were off to the airport. The funny thing was, we were dropped off at KLIA instead of KLIA 2 all because Grab tagged the wrong drop-off point. Imagine how freaked out I was when I checked the app again and found out that the address was wrong! Good thing there was a stable wifi connection in the area and we were able to book another car right away.
After a 2-hour delay, we arrived in Siem Reap, hired a tuk-tuk and settled in our AirBNB. In the evening, we walked around Pub Street and the Angkor Night Market for the first time. I love the vibe of the place! The Angkor Night Market has many stalls (designed in Khmer style) selling all kinds of souvenirs, clothes, Cambodian coffee and tea, and other knick-knacks.
Pub Street, on the other hand, has tons of restaurants and bars with colorful signages and neon lights; stalls selling almost the same items; quaint cafes; people selling edible insects; and even mobile bars! The mobile bars line up in one street and each has their own way of attracting customers, both tourists and locals. Some blast upbeat songs on their speakers. Other bartenders bring their menus and talk to tourists, hoping at least one would be interested in getting a glass of Long Island.
We decided to try it out and had a couple of drinks in one of the mobile bars. The bartender was super friendly. Plus, he has a freakin' wifi and a laptop that you can use. You can pick the music too. So weird but so cool at the same time haha!
This detail blew my mind. How amazing is it that the Khmers already have design ideas when this was built hundreds and hundreds of years ago? Absolutely mind-boggling.
The next day, we started our temple tour. It wasn't the "grand" one yet. A lot of people say that seeing the sunrise in Angkor Wat is something you shouldn't miss. Since we woke up and got ready late, we decided to push the grand tour to the next day so we can tick off that item from our list of must-dos.
Our Airbnb arranged everything [more details about this will be published in a separate blog post]. They hired our friendly tuk-tuk driver and gave us instructions on how the tour will go. We first dropped by the ticketing place and bought our two-day temple passes for 62 USD each. Then we were off to our first stop which was the Pre Rup Temple.
This temple is where I went nuts for a while. How can you not be blown away by all the intricate details on the stones? Or how everything was designed? Until now, I still can't wrap my head around the fact that the Khmers built this place hundreds and hundreds of years ago. They already have design concepts in mind and they freakin' materialized it. It's unlike anything I've ever seen before.
If this is how I felt when I saw our first temple that day, can you guess how stunned I was when I saw the Angkor Wat in person?
Giant roots on top of an arch in Ta Som Temple
Forgive me for not remembering all the temples we've visited during that day. I've only taken note of the ones that have stirred my interest the most (some of them look alike to be honest). One of them is the
or just Neak Pean. To get to this temple, everyone has to walk through the wooden walkway to cross the lake. It was a bit tricky because there are no handles on the sides and other tourists are going opposite our direction. Gotta be extra careful to avoid a sudden lake bath!
Groundskeepers in Preah Khan Temple. It's interesting to see how locals go about their routines while tourists flock the temples, trying to capture every corner.
Our last temple of the day was the Preah Khan and it was so majestic. Beautifully carved sculptures cover almost every inch of the temple. Some parts have been swallowed by large roots of trees while others have been covered in moss. But even in its state, I find it difficult to not see beauty in everything.
How can something that has been built centuries ago still look so immaculate?
The day ended with another trip to Pub Street and the Angkor Night Market. By that time, I wished we didn't have to go home to the Philippines all because I don't want to keep revisiting those places only in my memory. We tried to walk through every alley with interesting shops and even though we've passed by the same restaurants and stalls, I still couldn't get enough.
Cambodia day two is up next! 👌