Siem Reap, Cambodia
21.12 - 28.12.2016
The original plan was to spend Christmas in Phnom Penh. We changed it in order to get to Bangkok earlier. Alvin's glasses broke the day before we left Vietnam and he's been wearing his old backup pair. We asked all over Phnom Penh but they would need to send to Germany or France because the lens are so specialized. We then decided to try our luck in Bangkok which meant leaving Phnom Penh earlier and spending Christmas in Siem Reap. None of the places we booked while in Canada had space for us so we had to cancel those and find something else. Something else turned out to be Silver Palm Residence. The most luxurious place we have yet to stay in. Complimentary breakfast and a beautiful swimming pool that the kids daily. The cost per room was 40-50usd. We stayed in two. The staff, especially the manager, was very helpful. He is very passionate about his country and it's future so it's very inspiring talking with him. An election is coming in 2018. The tumultuous governing history of Cambodia continues.
One week in Siem Reap went by quickly. We were thankful for a wonderful Christmas Day. Family time in the morning was meaningful and intimate. We were able to join a local home church for a Christmas service later in the afternoon followed by a potluck supper.
We bought the 3 day pass for the temples so we could take our time. We started after 7am and ended before 2. By the 3rd day, we were all templed out. Even though there was a lot of walking around and in the temples. We were tuk tuked around between temples which was such a nice way to see the sites.
Day 1 with a guide.
Ta Prohm, Angkor Thom, Angkor Wat. The 3 most popular temples. We did it in this order with our guide in an attempt to avoid the crowds. The best thing we did though, was to skip lunch. Our guide was hesitant, so we convinced him with sweet pastries. We had the overcrowded Angkor Wat nearly to ourselves during those hours.
Prasat Kravan, Barteay Kdei, Pre Rup, East Mebon, Ta Som, Neak Poan, Preah Khan.
These were smaller temples. Some like the Preah Khan, Ta Som and Barteay Kdei we especially liked but not sure exactly which is which as it's been a month now and my memory is getting blurred.
Day 3 happened after Christmas day.
We joined in the crazy practice of sunrise viewing at Angkor Wat. To skip the crowd who entered the west gate, we went in the east gate. It was a longer walk in the dark but we found a good spot to settle. The sun came up in a somewhat clear sky but without the brilliant colors we were hoping to see.
We went to see Banteay Srey Temple which is further out of the city. It is constructed of red sandstone and some of the best preserved carvings of all the temples.
On the way home, we visited the Landmine Museum. It was started by Aki Ra, a former Khmer child soldier who planted landmine who became a deminer and opened his home to orphaned or injured children of landmines. His story is amazing and still continues.