Angkor Wat

The owner of our guesthouse sits down with each guest and shows them a detailed bike tour he designed. It hits all the major spots and a few that got us off the main tourist routes for a little while. His kitchen even starts serving breakfast at 4:30am so guests can make it to the ruins by sunrise. Before the sun had even thought about rising we were out of bed, had eaten breakfast, and were on our bikes by 5am. Erin in the front with a bright headlamp lighting our path and John in the rear with his lamp turned backwards on the strobe mode. By 5:45am we had arrived at our first ruin, Phnom Bahkeng. It was quite an experience to climp up an ancient ruin in the dark to see the sun rise. Just as we had been told there were only about 15 people there. We spent the next hour enjoying the sunrise and taking way too many pictures but it was our first ruin and we were pretty excited.

From there we rode on top of the wall of Angkor Thom, an ancient walled city. This was one our favorite parts of the day as we were all by ourselves except for the monkeys that kept us company. They were only slightly interested in us but didn’t seem to mind getting their picture taken. The road led us around to Bayon which was flooded with tourists and we could see why. Everywhere you looked there was another face looking at you and no we are not talking about the tourists. 216 huge faces were atop 54 towers of Bayon and were quite a sight. We spent about an hour there before we couldn’t take the crowds and decided to move on to Ta Nei which was the exact opposite of Bayon. We were the only two people there except for the unofficial tour guide who walked around and pointed at stuff. Didn’t say anything just pointed. We hopped back on our bikes and pedalled our way to Ta Prohm. What made this place unique was the trees that seemed to grow straight out of the ruins.

We then took a quick break by Sras Srang reflecting pool before heading on to the main attraction of Angkor Wat. This expansive structure is the largest of all of the ruins and most popular. The reflection in the moat surrounding the temple was one of our favorite features of this site.

Around 3 pm we had been exploring for 10 hours (ridden 15 miles) and decided we needed a break so we peddaled 3 miles back to our hotel for an afternoon siesta. We really wanted to see the sunset from the ruins and knew that this was our chance so at 5pm we got back on our bikes and returned to Phnom Bakheng with 2000 other people to watch the sunset. Luckily we knew this going in and were up for the experience. It was kind of like going to Costco at Christmas, you know what you are getting into but you go anyway. Even with this in mind it was an incredible amount of people and slightly shocking to go from 15 people here for sunrise to well over 2000 for sunset. After sunset it was back to the bikes and one quick stop to see Angkor Wat all lit up and then we started 3 1/2 mile ride back to our hotel. We would not want everyday to look like this but it was really fun way to see the ruins and would recommend it to anyone who happens to be in Cambodia.

To view a slideshow of all the photos from Angkor Wat, check out our Flickr.

 

The owner of our guesthouse sits down with each guest and shows them a detailed bike tour he designed. It hits all the major spots and a few that got us off the main tourist routes for a little while. His kitchen even starts serving breakfast at 4:30am so guests can make it to the ruins by sunrise. Before the sun had even thought about rising we were out of bed, had eaten breakfast, and were on our bikes by 5am. Erin in the front with a bright headlamp lighting our path and John in the rear with his lamp turned backwards on the strobe mode.  By 5:45am we had arrived at our first ruin, Phnom Bahkeng.  It was quite an experience to climb up an ancient ruin in the dark to see the sun rise.  Just as we had been told there were only about 15 people there.  We spent the next hour enjoying the sunrise and taking way too many pictures but it was our first ruin  and we were pretty excited.

For a slideshow of all the pictures you can go to our Flickr page. It is easier than opening up each of the pictures above.

From there we rode on top of the wall of Angkor Thom, an ancient walled city.  This was one our favorite parts of the day as we were all by ourselves except for the monkeys that kept us company.  They were only slightly interested in us but didn’t seem to mind getting their picture taken.  The road led us around to Bayon which was flooded with tourists and we could see why.  Everywhere you looked there was another face looking at you and no we are not talking about the tourists.  216 huge faces were atop 54 towers of Bayon and were quite a sight.  We spent about an hour there before we couldn’t take the crowds and decided to move on to Ta Nei which was the exact opposite of Bayon.  We were the only two people there except for the unofficial tour guide who walked around and pointed at stuff.  Didn’t say anything just pointed.  We hopped back on our bikes and pedalled our way to Ta Prohm.  What made this place unique was the trees that seemed to grow straight out of the ruins.

We then took a quick break by Sras Srang reflecting pool before heading on to the main attraction of Angkor Wat.  This expansive structure is the largest of all of the ruins and most popular.  The reflection in the moat surrounding the temple was one of our favorite features of this site.

Around 3 pm we had been exploring for 10 hours (ridden 15 miles) and decided we needed a break so we pedaled 3 miles back to our hotel for an afternoon siesta.  We really wanted to see the sunset from the ruins and knew that this was our chance so at 5pm we got back on our bikes and returned to Phnom Bakheng with 2000 other people to watch the sunset.  Luckily we knew this going in and were up for the experience.  It was kind of like going to Costco at Christmas, you know what you are getting into but you go anyway.  Even with this in mind it was an incredible amount of people and slightly shocking to go from 15 people here for sunrise to well over 2000 for sunset.  After sunset it was back to the bikes and one quick stop to see Angkor Wat all lit up and then we started 3 1/2 mile ride back to our hotel.  We would not want everyday to look like this but it was really fun way to see the ruins and would recommend it to anyone who happens to be in Cambodia.

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