Angkor Wat

by Andrew Stein

Angkor Wat at sunrise

Cambodian tourism is now synonymous with visiting Angkor Wat near Siem Reap, and that is where our Cambodian adventure properly began. Although Angkor was easily the most breathtaking, it is only one of hundreds of temples in Cambodia. The agenda for the two days that Nithya, Sangita and I stayed in Siem Reap was as follows:

  • Angkor Wat
  • Bonteay Kdei
  • Taprohm
  • Sunset on Prerup Temple
  • Sunrise at Angkor Wat
  • Banteay Srei
  • Banteay Samre
  • East Mebon
  • Angkor Thom
  • Bayon
  • Baphuon
  • Phimeanakas
  • Terrace of Elephant
  • Sunset on Phnom Bakheng

Monks in a Tuk Tuk

Luckily we had a very well-informed and nice guide, Dara Ly, to help us differentiate the above temples and ancient sites, which at first seem more “same, same” than “different”. In addition, Dara along with my travel partners, Nithya and Sangita, were all knowledgeable on the Hindu gods and goddesses that were carved throughout the temples. After my couple days in Siem Reap, I now know more about Shaivism, focusing on Shiva and the lingam, as well as Vaishnayism, focusing on Vishnu. And although most of Cambodia is Buddhist, many of the temples contain elements of both Hinduism and Buddhism as the control of the temples shifted throughout the years. At one temple, because I was wearing my Buddhist beaded bracelet and a red string around my wrist indicating that I had recently paid my respects to a Buddha statue, a monk came up to me, gently grabbed my wrist and said something although not in English seemingly kind and appreciative. Small experiences such as this help me better understand the importance of these historic Cambodian temples.

Temple reflection, Siem Reap