A sudden burst of adrenaline rushed through me as I set foot in Siem Riep. I have heard ungodly stories of Cambodia and the ruthlessness with which the Khmer Rouge ruled the country. Even though they had recently been ousted from power, the Khmer Rouge left the population in utter devastation and the infrastructure in ruin. Knowing this, it’s difficult to say what makes Siem Riep such a special place. Perhaps it’s the primal energy contained in a place that recently escaped persecution. Or maybe even that the land on which this city rests is holy! Whatever the reason, Siem Riep would become an epic prelude to one of the most incredible places on this planet…the Ancient City of Angkor!
The weather was muggy and air dusty as many of the roads are unpaved. Navigating our two-wheelers out of town towards Angkor was a heart-pounding endeavor as traffic is very erratic with little organization! Upon entering the complex, we came upon a fork. You can either go right, left or straight ahead toward the stunning Angkor Wat which is perched behind a vast, beautifully manicured lawn. It’s a surreal, dream-like structure, with its phallic pillars and gloomy grey coloration. It embodies the Khmer era beautifully! It was so striking that we decided to save it for the last day and turned right. woking taxi
The complex is divided into 4 main sections, Eastern Baray, Western Baray, Angkor Thom and Angkor Wat, with lots of temples scatted in between and on the outskirts. Stay there a month and you still won’t see everything. Our first stop was Prasat Kravan! A relatively small 10th century temple consisting of 5 reddish Brick Towers on a common terrace. The temple was dedicated to Vishnu and built in 921 AD. We took some pictures, explored the area briefly and carried on.
Riding along towards Eastern Baray, we unexpectedly came upon a little lake called Srah Srang. The sunlight, reflecting gently off the still water, caught our eyes and put us in a hypnotized trance as we drew near. We couldn’t help but stop and sit for a moment, captivated by the lake’s peaceful beauty! There was something truly special there as little Cambodian kids bathed and played with each other on the banks. Little shouts of childish laughter, the fresh scent of the murky waters and warm sunlight touching my shoulders, I was awash with an overwhelming sensation of where in the world I currently sat!
Famished, we decided to grab some lunch at the little market just across the street from the lake. Not the best food and grossly overpriced, we ate there anyways as our options were limited.