Hello. My name is Parvis.

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Siem Reap, Cambodia

I’ve always had a strong fascination for ancient structures, or more specifically megastructures. And Angkor Wat has always been on my list of places to visit at least once in my life. Thanks to the long weekend due to the Chinese New Year holiday, I was finally able to book a short trip to Cambodia for 3 days/2 nights. This is my 4th time as a solitary traveler.

My first impression of the town is that it’s a bit toned down compared to the lively Bangkok. What surprises me the most is that while it is a heavy tourist destination, the town is too underdeveloped. Meaning, you won’t likely find the conveniences you’re used to back home, say a decent mall. And to my utter shock, locals don’t know what McDonald’s is.

There aren’t many cars around but you will see a good number of motorbikes, bikes and of course tuk-tuks. Roads are small and the town is also extremely hot and humid and very, very dusty. People are nice but not as warm and friendly as Filipinos I would say. Almost all of them speak at least a bit of English. And every thing in Siem Reap is quoted in US dollars.

I arrived late at night and after I checked in at the hotel, I went to the famous Pub Street to grab some dinner. During my first official day, I did what is expected of every first time visitor of the town: do the temple visits. I probably made a mistake of starting my tour at 9 am. The weather was scorching to the point of almost draining all my energy even before lunchtime. It was that hot and humid I was too weak to visit all the temples and had to cut it short to only seeing three.

But Angkor Wat is truly a site to behold. It was impossibly huge though but one must take his time appreciating this megastructure and just wonder how the hell did our ancestors build this thing.

Angkor Wat in the horizon

Angkor Wat in the horizon

AngKor Wat temple

AngKor Wat temple

Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat temple

Angkor Wat temple

Monks and visitors alike ascending/descending the Angkor Wat temple

Monks and visitors alike ascending/descending the Angkor Wat temple

Young monks at Angkor Wat

Young monks at Angkor Wat

Ta Prohm temple

Ta Prohm temple

Ta Prohm temple overrun by tree roots

Ta Prohm temple overrun by tree roots

A corridor at Ta Prohm temple

A corridor at Ta Prohm temple

Terrace of the Elephants at Angkor Thom

Terrace of the Elephants at Angkor Thom

Elephant carvings at the Terrace of the Elephants

Elephant carvings at the Terrace of the Elephants

Stone figures near the Terrace of the Elephants

Stone figures near the Terrace of the Elephants

Row of Buddhas at the entrance of Angkor Thom

Row of Buddhas at the entrance of Angkor Thom

A passageway at Bayon Temple

A passageway at Bayon Temple

Hieroglyphs of Angkor Wat

Hieroglyphs of Angkor Wat

Stone carvings at Angkor Wat

Stone carvings at Angkor Wat

Bayon temple

Bayon temple

Just a few out of the 216 stone faces at Bayon temple

Just a few out of the 216 stone faces at Bayon temple

The ruins of Bayon temple

The ruins of Bayon temple

Gigantic stone face at Bayon temple

Gigantic stone face at Bayon temple

Hieroglyphs at Bayon Temple

Hieroglyphs at Bayon Temple

Stone carvings at Bayon temple

Stone carvings at Bayon temple

Buddha riding a dog chariot?

Buddha riding a dog chariot?

A carving of someone dancing on top of what seems to be a flower

A carving of someone dancing on top of what seems to be a flower

Half-man, half animal stone carving at Angkor Wat

Half-man, half animal stone carving at Angkor Wat

After the temple visits and some lunch, I headed out to see the floating village at Tonle Sap. The terminal is chaotic but once you embark on the boat, things will start to mellow down and you will soon realize that in this huge lake, people live like how they would on land. They have everything in this floating village from markets, to schools and churches.

Floating village of Tonle Sap

Floating village of Tonle Sap

A small family asking for "donations" at Tonle Sap floating village

A small family asking for “donations” at Tonle Sap floating village

Church at the floating village in Tonle Sap

Church at the floating village in Tonle Sap

House at the floating village of Tonle Sap

House at the floating village of Tonle Sap

Young girl rowing at the floating village of Tonle Sap

Young girl rowing at the floating village of Tonle Sap

Cambodian flag taken atop a market shop at the floating village in Tonle Sap

Cambodian flag taken atop a market shop at the floating village in Tonle Sap

The last activity for the day was hiking to a temple on top of a hill overlooking the Tonle Sap Town and endless rice fields. I stayed there until sunset. And by the time I got to the hotel, I was already extremely exhausted and went to sleep as early as 9 pm.

The hiking trail going up Wat Knang Phnom Krom

The hiking trail going up Wat Knang Phnom Krom

Sunset at Wat Knang Phnom Krom temple

Sunset at Wat Knang Phnom Krom temple

The highest point in Siem Reap to witness a sunset

The highest point in Siem Reap to witness a sunset

Green rice fields of Tonle Sap

Green rice fields of Tonle Sap

Sunset view on top of Wat Knang Phnom Krom overlooking rice fields

Sunset view on top of Wat Knang Phnom Krom overlooking rice fields

The following day, I spent half of it shopping souvenirs at the Old Market. And by 3 pm, I did quad-biking at the countryside of Siem Reap until sunset.

Rows of shops at the Old Market in Siem Reap town proper

Rows of shops at the Old Market in Siem Reap town proper

One-stop shop: dry meat, bags and bike rentals all in one place!

One-stop shop: dry meat, bags and motorbike rentals all in one place!

Buddha masks being sold at the Old Market in Siem Reap

Buddha masks being sold at the Old Market in Siem Reap

Quad-biking around Siem Reap's countryside

Quad-biking around Siem Reap’s countryside

Countryside of Siem Reap

Countryside of Siem Reap

After this, I went straight to the hotel, had a quick dinner, took a brief swim at the pool then at 10 pm I was already off to the airport! My vacation felt a bit rushed but at least I was able to experience the Khmer life even for just a little bit.

Sunrise view from my hotel room

Sunrise view from my hotel room

Buddha fountain and some white flowers by the poolside

Buddha fountain and some white flowers by the poolside

6 comments on “Siem Reap, Cambodia

  1. Ardun Ward
    February 14, 2013

    Parvis! thanks for the great photos brother. Looks like a nice long weekend. I can’t believe those trees growing right over the temple! Where to next my friend?

    • Parvis Brahim
      February 14, 2013

      Thanks man! I’m happy my phone didn’t disappoint me and was still able to capture nice shots. Ta Prohm temple is my favorite indeed. I’m going to Hanoi in April. When do we expect your first trip of the year?

  2. Ardun Ward
    February 15, 2013

    Awesome! Angkor Wat is on my list, maybe next year 🙂 I’m off at the end of March, first stop Amman, Jordan. I can’t wait man. Swimming in the dead sea and Petra! Looking forward to your info on Hanoi. Keep the great photos coming.

  3. Apple
    February 15, 2013

    Nice blog BFF 🙂

  4. herdominion
    May 3, 2015

    This is very helpful. Thank you. I’m currently writing a story and its setting is on Siem Reap. I’ve never been to Cambodia though but I wish I could get the chance to visit it someday, specifically Siem Reap.

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