April 5 – 7, 2010: Our GAP Adventures Roam Cambodia tour group departed, in a private minivan, Bangkok in the morning. We crossed the border into Cambodia and arrived in Siem Reap.
UPDATE: Gap Adventures is now GAdventures and the equivalent tour offered today is Cambodia on a Shoestring. Like our tour in 2010, this is a YOLO style trip with a basic service level. We highly recommend GAdventures and have used them for over five trips between the two of us.
We took a quick walk into town for dinner but retired early after booking a tuk-tuk for the next day. Most of the tour group planned to go together but we knew we’d want to do things at our own pace. We wanted to get up early and see the sunrise over Angkor Wat.
Angkor is a UNESCO World Heritage site that contains artifacts of the Khmer Empire, from the 9th to 15th century. It is said that the Angkor region supported at least 0.1% of the global population during 1010-1220 and was the largest pre-industrial city in the world. (Any guesses as to what is the likely the second largest pre-industrial city? The Mayan city of Tikal in Guatemala.) In the Angkor area, there are over one thousand temples. The archaeological remains include the famous Temple of Angkor Wat and Bayon Temple.
Angkor Wat is the world’s largest religious monument. It is a symbol of Cambodia and appears on the national flag. At the center of Angkor Thom is the Bayon Temple. The faces carved in the city gates and in the towers at Bayon may be familiar. You may also recognize the landscape of Ta Prohm – the jungle setting was used in the movie Lara Croft: Tomb Raiders. This area should be on everyone’s bucket list. It is a vast and absolutely beautiful and magical. Hopefully the photographs give a sense of this beauty.
On our last evening in the area, we visited downtown Siem Reap. It’s a city that has been built up around Angkor tourism so don’t expect traditional Cambodian life. The downtown is laid-back but pricier than elsewhere in Cambodia. We enjoyed dinner and drinks while lounging on pappasans (which were everywhere!).