Angkor Wat…? Encore un Buddha!

January 25, 2011 1 comment

We’ve just spent 7 days in Cambodia, and it went by too fast…! We flew into Siem Reap and started with the temples of Angkor Wat and around. Then we moved on to Pnom Penh by road (a pleasant 5 hours in a van & driver, US$100 was a great bargain compared to 4 plane tickets) and we hanged out with the local expats for the week end. Merci Jeanne for the insiders tour and a fantastic w/e together!!

I took this photo in one of the temples, loved the contrast between the Korea-Rock hairstyle of the boy vs. the studious monk. They seemed good friends and were hanging out together.

The temple of Angkor Wat is quite impressive, even though we couldn’t help comparing it to the thousands of seldom-visited temples of Bagan, Burma (read here). I particularly enjoyed the serenity inside Angkor Wat: clean lines, mono-chromes of greys punctuated by the bright robes of the monks.

Most Buddha statues lack their heads because they’ve been stolen over the years. It gives a strange feeling of what it must have been like to discover such a massive site under the jungle about 100 years ago.. Marcelo’s favorite new joke is Angkor Wat…Encore Quoi…Encore un Buddha??!!! Hard to translate but in short, he got a bit fed up of visiting temples. So he got to go around in Amalya’s backpack…

What we did not necessarily realize is that there are many other temples to see in the area, which make for great half-day visits punctuated by lunchtimes and naptimes at the pool. Loved Blue Pumpkin café in town, where I even had my galette des rois!!

Siem Reap is a city of 2 million people but it does not feel like it. Everything for the tourist is quite concentrated with a nice boutique-feel. Our hotel FCC Angkor was a wonderful base, perfect with children (but FCC Pnom Penh is not as recommended). It ticked many boxes: super attentive staff , great menu and room service, sweet babysitters and best of all, a beautiful swimming pool with an area convenient for young children. If you don’t stay there, at least get a drink in the early evening.

There are several nice shops nearby, such as Wanderlust and the French-owned WA Art Gallery. For dinner, we loved Alliance Café where there are Apsara dance performances 3 times a week, and also a few stylish rooms to stay at. All in all, Siem Reap felt relaxed, tasteful and well organized for the independent travellers. And the world-renowned site of Angkor Wat lived up to our expectations.

We spent the last afternoon in Siem Reap strolling by boat on Tonle Sap, the largest fresh-water lake in South East Asia.

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