Any trip to Cambodia wouldn’t be complete without spending time at Angor Wat, but the full complex of ruins is actually scattered over an area of some 160 sq km. So you can imagine why Graham Stanley decided to spend a second day marveling at these amazing archaeological sites…
“Our Intrepid trip included a visit with a local guide to the temples of Angkor Wat. This was amazing, but there are so many temples that it’s impossible to see them in one day, so on our free day a group of us decided to go back into the temples to explore in our own time.
The highlight was Banteay Srei – not just for the exquisite carvings for which it is famous, but for the drive there. It’s out in the countryside about 30kms (18 miles) away from the rest of the temples, so it takes around an hour in a tuk tuk. I was so glad to be able to do this because it provided a glimpse into village life that I would otherwise have missed. Most of the villages near the main temples are very touristy with market stalls and restaurants, but the villages on the way to Banteay Srei were not for tourists. We saw kids playing in the street, people having an afternoon nap, shops selling local supplies, houses on stilts, people working in the rice fields, water buffalo grazing and the green patchwork landscape of rice paddies. When we arrived at the temple I spent time looking at the fine carvings before we made our return to Angkor Wat, which I wanted to see at sunset.
Many of the large tourist groups are whisked to a nearby hill or one of the other temples for sunset, but all you see is the sun going down over the horizon and while it’s a beautiful scene, the amazing sight is the temples themselves that become a glowing gold in the fading light. Angkor Wat has much fewer visitors at this time of day and the ponds in the front make great reflections. While everyone was watching the sun go down I was snapping away at the temple and got some amazing photos. I am really pleased that Intrepid gave us an overview of the site then gave us enough time to make your own explorations, because this day was one of the highlights of my trip!”
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* photo by Graham Stanley