Siem Reap, Cambodia

A Holiday in Cambodia

Siem Reap is the closest town to many of the ancient Khmer temples of Cambodia, including Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom.

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Our Plane from HCMC to Siem Reap
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A Very Familiar Sight for Us in Cambodia, the Back of Ti's Head (Our Faithful Tuk-Tuk Driver)
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The Hotel Pool
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Vegetable Khmer Curry
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Amok Fish
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Another Type of Khmer Curry
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Cambodian Family of Five on a Motorbike
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Small Kid on a Big Bike
Bayon Temple

Bayon Temple is located inside the ancient city of Angkor Thom. The Buddhist temple was built by King Jayavarman VII around the year 1200. Bayon has 216 giant stone faces which are either images of the bodhisattva of compassion, or Jayavarman VII himself.

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Elephants and Tuk Tuks Carry Visitors Through the Gate to the Ancient City of Angkor Thom
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The Gate to Angkor Thom
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Entrance to Bayon Temple
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Bayon Temple Courtyard
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A Detail of the Intricate Bas-Relief Carvings at Bayon
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One of the Many Faces of Bayon
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Bayon Temple
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People Dressed in Traditional Khmer Costumes
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More Faces of Bayon
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Towers of Bayon
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Linga in the Bayon Temple, Hindu Phallic Symbol and Representative of the God Shiva
Other Temples of Angkor Thom

Angkor Thom was the ancient capital city of the Khmer Empire until it was abandoned sometime before the year 1609. Scholars believe the city once sustained a population between 80,000 and 150,000 people.

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Cute Cambodian Kids Sitting in Angkor Thom
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Baphuon, Pyramid-Shaped Temple in Angkor Thom
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Baphuon has Steep Stairs!!
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View from the Top of Baphuon
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View from the Top of Baphuon
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Baphuon -- Can You Spot the Reclining Buddha in this Photo? Hint: It's Huge
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Phimeanakas Temple
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It's a Steep Climb Up to the Ruined Top of Phimeanakas
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A Small Temple in Angkor Thom with Many Trees Growing from the Foundation
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A Red Tree Ant, Used in Khmer Cuisine -- The Ants' Venom Makes them Taste Like Lemons

Watch James Taste a Local Delicacy: Red Tree Ants, Plucked Fresh from the Bark of a Poisonous Tree

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Later, James Ate This Dish of Beef with Red Tree Ants
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A Modern Day Buddhist Temple in the Ancient City of Angkor Thom -- In This Photo, Khmer People are Being Blessed by a Monk
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Terrace of the Leper King
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These Scary Carvings Below and Surrounding the Terrace of the Leper King Represent the Hindu Hell
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Terrace of the Elephants in Angkor Thom
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Terrace of the Elephants
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Panoramic View from the Terrace of the Elephants -- Ancient Khmers would Hold Elephant Fights in this Clear Area -- The Towers in the Background Once Held Prisoners to be Exposed to the Elements
Ta Prohm

Ta Prohm is a temple intentionally left partially covered by jungle. It is famous for the enormous and ancient strangler figs growing from between the stone blocks. The temple was also featured in the movie Tomb Raider.

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Some Trees in Ta Prohm Were Left in Place by Archaeologists to Show How the Jungle Took Over
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Ta Prohm
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Us at Ta Prohm
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An Ancient Tree in Ta Prohm Temple
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The Roots of This Tree Are Big Enough to Hide Behind
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Tree Roots Easily Shove the Massive Stone Blocks Apart
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Leaving Ta Prohm, We Stopped at this Cambodian Style Gas Station -- They Keep Gas in Johnnie Walker Bottles
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This Kid was the Only One Working at the Gas Station
Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat is the single largest religious monunment in the entire world. It was constructed as a Hindu temple by King Suryavarman II in the early 12th century. Most of the other Khmer Hindu temples are dedicated to Shiva, but Angkor Wat is dedicated to Vishnu. The enormous temple features intricate bas-relief carvings of Hindu myths.

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The Grand Entrance to Angkor Wat is a Huge Bridge Across the Enormous Moat
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Entrance to Angkor Wat
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Entrance to the Outer Wall, Angkor Wat
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Outer Wall, Angkor Wat
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Angkor Wat
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Us at Angkor Wat
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Upper Courtyard in Angkor Wat
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Carvings of Aspara Dancers in Various States of Complete-ness
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The Outer Wall of Angkor Wat at the Back of the Complex
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This Massive Bas-Relief Caring Depicts the Hindu Myth of the Churning of the Milk Sea
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The Churning of the Milk Sea -- Gods Pulling on the Tail of the Many-Headed Naga Snake
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The Other Side of the Mural, Demons Pull from the Head of the Snake
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Carving of a War Elephant
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Another Small Detail from an Absolutely Massive Carving
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This Frog was Living Right Outside the Temple
Banteay Srei

Banteay Srei is a temple further away from Siem Reap than Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom. The 16 mile tuk-tuk ride there gave us our first glimpse of the beautiful Cambodian countryside. The temple was built in the year 967 and so is actually older than both Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom.

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Cambodian Countryside on the Way to Banteay Srei
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An Improvised Cambodian Farm Truck
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Banteay Srei Temple
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What a Beautiful Framed Picture :)
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Cambodian Girl at Banteay Srei
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One of Many Intricate Carvings
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A Monk Visits Banteay Srei Temple
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Banteay Srei
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Another Cambodian Girl at Banteay Srei
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Looking Back at Banteay Srei from the Outer Wall
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A Common Sight at Cambodian Temples, Victims of Landmines Performing Traditional Music
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More Cambodian Kids Hanging Out at the Temple
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Another Kid Hanging Out at the Temple
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Shopowner's Cute Daughter, Actual Quote: "Mom!! There's People Here! It's Not My Life to Sell Clothes!"
Waterfall Hike & 1000 Linga

After Banteay Srei, we ventured even further into the Cambodian countryside for a waterfall hike recommended by our tuk-tuk driver, Ti. The stream feeds into Tonle Sap, the largest freshwater lake in Southeast Asia. Because of the importance of Tonle Sap to the ancient Khmers, they carved many linga into the rocks of the riverbed to bless the water on its way.

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We Saw This Makeshift Truck on the Way to the Waterfall Hike
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Local Shop, a Common Sight Along the Side of the Road
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Small Kids on a Big Bike
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Hiking in the Cambodian Jungle
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Steep, Muddy Cambodian Hills in Slippers? No Problem!
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Cambodian Jungle
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Waterfall and Many Linga Carvings -- These Bless the Water at the Source as it Flows to Tonle Sap
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Another Angle of the Linga Carvings and Waterfall
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More Linga
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River Carvings
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Another, Bigger Waterfall
Other Temples on the Big Circuit

After the waterfall hike and Banteay Srei, we visited several other temples in and around Angkor Thom.

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Another Temple
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Elephant from Below
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Lin at One of the Temple Towers
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James Tries to Learn Cambodian Dance
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Path to the Water Temple
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Walking to the Water Temple
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Near the Water Temple, the Water Gets a Bit Murkier...
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Water Temple
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Preah Khan Temple
Pub Street

Pub Street is the main hangout for tourists and ex-pats in Siem Reap, and has most of the town’s restaurants and nightlife. Sadly, we were unable to find fried tarantula in the Old Market, perhaps it will be available next time. We were told tarantula is only sometimes available in Siem Reap, otherwise we should go to neighboring Battambang province where it is readily available in the markets.

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Pub Street in Siem Reap
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We Saw This Motorbike on the Way to Pub Street -- Look Closely, She is Carrying Her Own IV on a Trip Home from the Hospital!!
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Pub Street Has Many of these Fish Spas -- The Fish Will Nibble the Dead Skin Off Your Feet
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Outside the Old Market
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Flower Shop in the Old Market
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Seafood in the Old Market
Temples on the Way to Tonle Sap

On the way to Tonle Sap, we made several stops along the way as recommended by our driver. Each was a bit different from the other temples we had seen. At one of the temples, James tried to take a picture with a cow. The cow didn’t like this very much and headbutted James in the thigh.

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Moments Later, This Cow Attacked James
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Looking Back from the Top of the Temple
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A Different Temple
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Lots of Bamboo
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Kids on the Way to Tonle Sap
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More Kids on the Way to Tonle Sap -- This Girl Reminded Us of Malie
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This Looks Fun...
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Transporting a Boat to Tonle Sap
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Typical House We Saw on the Way to Tonle Sap
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Kids on the Side of the Road
Tonle Sap

Tonle Sap is the largest freshwater lake in Southeast Asia. The waters of Tonle Sap change direction twice a year because of a complex interaction with the Mekong River and the weather patters. Tonle Sap is very important to the region for fishing and for rice farming. We visited a floating village on the lake, a sunken forest, and watched the sunset from the roof of our boat.

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Boats at Dock, Ready to Take Visitors to Tonle Sap
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People Seem to Walk on Water in the Shallows of Tonle Sap
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Floating Village in Tonle Sap
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House in the Floating Village
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Floating Village Houses
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More Floating village Houses
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"Main Street"?
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Our 13-Year Old Small Boat Captain
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Cambodian Kids Fishing from a Small Boat
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Baby on Board
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Another Typical Village Home
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Near the Village is the Sunken Forest
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Taking a Break at a Floating Restaurant in the Sunken Forest
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All Hands on Deck!
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Waiting for Sunset on the Roof of the Boat
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Another Boat Silhouetted by the Setting Sun
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Beautiful Sunset
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Boats Headed Home at Dusk

3 thoughts on “Siem Reap, Cambodia

  1. haley

    I can’t believe how breathtaking everything is. Those temple stairs look gnarly, good work you two! And that floating village is really interesting
    So many beautiful people too