Arriving in Siem Reap we headed to the Prince Mekong Villas, as it came highly recommended by the same couple who told us about the orphanage while in Thailand. The guesthouse is run by a German who offers free bike rental, breakfast, laundry, and a solid amount of advice on the best way of visiting the Angkor Wat complex. We arrived with an original plan of attacking the temples, and in the end, we probably should have stuck with it and not listened to the German’s advice, but everything still worked out for the best.
The first day we spent visiting the main temples on bike (except Angkor Wat, since we planned on returning back in the afternoon), starting at sunrise and finishing about 8 hours later. We planned that evening to return back to see Angkor Wat for sunset, but the sun had taken it’s toll on us and we passed out for close to 4 hours on return, and we were still feeling pretty week into the night.
The temples were very interesting and the bike ride was a definitely recommended way of visiting the temples. But as we were expecting, after a while you quickly start to get templed out. The next day we rented a tuk-tuk and headed back to the main temple complex to view Angkor Wat for the first time and then headed for the unanticipated very long journey to a few outskirt temples that have been completely overtaken by the jungle on the way to one of the floating villages nearby. The temples were interesting, but probably not worth such a long ride, and while the floating village was very interesting, it took us so long to get there that we didn’t have too much exploring time and left immediately after the boat ride ended. We opted for the less touristy and farther away village to visit; however, since we didn’t even get a chance to really spend much time walking the streets, it wouldn’t have made a difference whether we just went to the closer and more touristy one instead. But the houses are built on 7-10m high stilts and while they were exposed now during the dry season, they are completely covered when the rains start. So it was interesting to think what life would be like to live in a place where daily life is completely different depending on the seasons. The people were very friendly while we were driving by and the kids cute as usual, I just wish we had more time there. We headed back to Angkor Wat again for the late afternoon to catch sunset and get pictures with a different light. We didn’t understand why people choose another location other than Angkor Wat to view the sunset, but as we quickly found out, the temple closes half an hour before the sun sets, which makes viewing the temple impossible…makes sense now.
So overall, the temples were very impressive, but one day would have sufficed for us, since the second day wasn’t completely necessary, but still interesting. As for Cambodia, this was the shortest time we’ve spent in one week, and it was difficult to get a full sense of the culture. However, it was easy to see how friendly the people are given their horrible past, and the food was surprisingly really tasty as well. The next morning we left early for Ho Chi Minh City, formally known as Saigon, Vietnam.