The Temples of Angkor

The temples of Angkor are ancient, massive, stunning feats of architecture.  Angkor was the capital city of the Khmer Empire from the 9th century until the 15th century and may be the largest pre-industrial city in the world.  “Angkor” is actually the Khmer word for “city.”  There were more than 1,000 temples that made up the Angkor complex, although now many of them are just piles of brick and rock.  The ones that still stand and have been restored include Angkor Wat (the world’s largest single religious monument & Cambodia’s #1 tourist spot), Bayon, Angkor Thom, and Ta Prohm.  They are now protected as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

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Siem Reap & the Khmer New Year

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On April 12, I took the bus to Siem Reap from Phnom Penh.  It left three hours late, and even though it was an AC bus (which are more expensive), the driver never turned it on.  So it was a long, hot eight hours, but I finally arrived and checked in at the Siem Reap Hostel well after dark.  My first impression of Siem Reap was that it was very smoky and smelled like a blazing fire.  I never did figure out where it came from, but it was indeed smoky the entire time I was there.  My second impression of the city, after exploring it on foot, was that I was going to like it.  It seemed fun, hip, easy to get around, and full of restaurants, markets, and bars.  I had specifically planned to be there for the upcoming Khmer New Year because I had heard that it was the only city in Cambodia that really celebrated the holiday with a bang.

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