Khmer Civilisation: Temples, Temples.... and More Temples...

Truckload of pictures! You people better be appreciative and leave a comment because this post took me two days to complete!


Got up at 7, did my usual early morning routine (poop, shower and dress, in that order) and headed downstairs for the complimentary breakfast. Spread was awesome! Abundance of croissants, baguette, sausages, bacon, ham, eggs (sunny side up, omelette or scrambled), local porridge, fried rice and noodles. Whacked an omelette, a plateful of protein and got up to the room to dump another load hehe.

Met up with Hok at the lobby at 8:30am, he was probably there for ages hehe, very punctual guy and once again, we headed for Angkor Thom to catch the Leper King terrace, which we missed yesterday.

As soon as we got out of the car, we melted, solidified, collected and re-attached our limbs before resuming the tour. It's an unforgiving weather!

The terrace is dedicated to the "Leper King" because of the moss and discoloration on the fingers and feet of the statue. The statue is also supposed to represent an Angkorian king who had leprosy.

After a very brief photo-taking session, we were whisked off to Preah Khan, a short drive away from the North Gate of Angkor Thom. The temple also used to be a university for fine arts and sciences. One of the well known features of Preah Khan is an altar set up for the second wife of King Jayavarman VII. Story was, his first wife passed away and he married the sister of the deceased wife... Hok told us that it is not easy to locate the altar of the second wife and gave us pretty vague directions (the temples can get really maze-y you know) and dropped us off lol.

Ugly green nets again!!! Seriously they should use brown nets or beige-y ones. Or camouflage. Something.

By the way, I was stuck at the front of the main entrance, contemplating and bargaining with this nine-year old Cambodian kid who was selling rice paper paintings. Well, they're not exactly paintings but are more like traced paintings on actual sculptures. Ended up paying $7 for one depicting the popular legend 'Churning of the Sea of Milk". Ev got one of the Angkor Wat. The boy threw in a casing (shaped like a bamboo) made of palm leaves for us hehehe.

We tried to follow Hok's directions but ended up nowhere. There are way too many doorways and hallways that we decided to stop the hide and seek game, and ask for help from one of the locals (they are usually the ones just standing at a doorway, waiting).

The local guide then asked us to follow him up another passageway to get a good photo op before viewing the statue of King Jayavarnam VII's wife. We were apprehensive at first, as we've lost quite a bit of time at the main entrance but decided to go for it anyway. Turns out he brought us up on one of the walls within the temple and we could see the top of the towers that make up the temple.

Doesn't look very impressive on this scale but it's really quite nice on a 360 degree view :)

Then the local guide brought us to the very secluded part of the temple...

She is supposed to be the most beautiful statue of all. Back in her glory days, she was adorned with diamonds and all sorts of gems but these have sadly, been looted off. Typically, the locals would make a pit stop to the altar and pray for blessings on their exams, prosperity, marriage... a lot like the Chinese, really lol.

Hok was right about one thing though. It's definitely not an easy place to locate. The guide took us winding in and out of doorways and finally we see it off a section on the edge the temple and at an area that is quite dark and unassuming. Oh, don't be fooled by TY's camera flash, the section was a whole lot darker.

The local guide also offered to show us the apsara dancers, which is another feature that Hok told us to look out for. Again, if we were to locate it ourselves, we would fail miserably -__- .

Happy with what we have seen, we thanked the guide, and tipped him a dollar. Exited on the East side to the courtyard where the others took some more photographs.

Funny shot of myself that I must post up! Looked like my head swelled (no, it's not like that all the while har har har) and everything else from the neck down shrunk. That's ZX doing a robotic dance beside me :p

I think after viewing the lady's statue, some kind of royal spirit must have channeled itself into me because suddenly Ev dropped to his knees and declared his undying loyalty and slavery to me for eternity.

Don't believe? Nah proof:

Lol... not! A random butterfly fluttered over and was tired from its own spiritual journey so it chose my shoe to rejuvenate or whatever -.-

We took a really long time at the courtyard before we finally packed up and climbed into Hok's car (who is already waiting outside hehe, I think he is forever waiting for us). He's very gracious about the whole thing but dropped us off at the next temple, the Preah Neak Pean or the hospital temple.

This temple is pretty interesting. It's called a hospital temple because it is built for medicinal purposes. Preah Neak Pean represents a mythical lake in the Himalayas which is believed to be able to cure all illnesses. The main pool in the middle (bottom pic) plays the source of providing water into four pools connected to it. These four pools represent the elements Fire, Wind, Earth and Water, or the ancient Hindu belief of balance.

Each of the smaller pools had a small opening that connects to the main pool and each of them has a statue of human, lion, elephant and horse.

All of the statues had an almost comical large mouth for water to flow through. We only spend about half an hour here as it is a relatively small temple.

Went back out to meet with Hok and off to Temple #3 of the day...

Ta Som.

Ta Som is also built for King Jayavarnam VII (gee, he must have been on a temple-building spree eh). It's only about 5 minutes drive or so from Preah Neak Pean.

By the way, as we were driven off to Ta Som in the comfort of the air-conditioned Camry, we spotted this braided ang moh who was actually walking to each and every temple! Walk! By foot! In this boiling temperature! We saw tourists cycling, we saw them on tuk-tuks, but never yet, walking from temple to temple. Respect. Ev calls her Gladiator lol.

But I digress.

So. Ta Som. It's even smaller than Preah Neak Pean, the hospital temple. We managed to complete this temple within half an hour. Though I must assure you that we do not compete to finish the temple on time. We took our own leisurely sweet time for photo ops and explored. It is that small.

The particularly large tree engulfing one of the tower entrances has to be the main feature of this temple (no, I don't know that for sure). I think TY used a wide angle lens to take this shot hehehhe made my legs look like a mile or two long. Ev just looks darn weird. Like someone fixed an extra calf to his short legs kekeke.

Phew.... Temple #4. I don't know if you're getting tired of reading about these temples but my hands are aching from typing... This entry is NOT easy to blog :( Need cross-checking, etc. Not to mention that this particular post has almost 40 pictures....... T__T It's late now, I think I'll do it tomorrow morning.

signing off at 1:24am.


Ok, back to business. Temple #4 that Hok brought us was Pre Rup, in Khmer, it means "turn the body" where funerals are held in the temple. Turning of the body is a ritual of taking the ashes of the deceased and rotating it in different directions during the service. Hok tells me that the 'turning of the body' also means reincarnation.
ZX wasn't in this pic not because he was the cameraman (we used a tripod for that) but he seems to have zipped off into the temple...

Most of the temples in Siem Reap are have central tower and is usually flanked by 4 shorter towers on its four diagonal sides. Not to mention that the stair steps leading to the uppermost towers are usually narrow in width and superbly steep! I had to walk like an old auntie (side step, and all the while securing my hands to the walls). Saw a few senior citizens there too and kinda felt sorry for them as the it's not easy making your way up and down the temple, plus seats are not readily available and same goes to the WCs.

Once you have steadily made your way up to the top of Pre Rup, you will be able to catch the peak of Angkor Wat!

Can see or not?? It's not entirely in your face but look closely and you'll see it! We searched and failed at first, but upon eavesdropping on another tourist's guide, we see it kekeke.

Looking down from the top... I get paranoid and held on tightly to my camera at one of those moments. Getting up on top of Pre Rup made me feel like we are a lot more closer to the sun than what Pre Rup made us to believe. Sun was scorching and burning the back of my neck... phew.... I was surprised I didn't get dehydrated or suffer from heat stroke.

Visiting a total of four temples before the sun is at its highest point was a pretty good achievement. Famished, Hok drove us back close to where we started from for lunch.

Our lunch location is just opposite an extremely large swimming pool, the Sras Srang. Hok tells us that he used to come here and swim as a boy and sure enough, we saw a group of kids jumping in and splashing around. The pool measures a whopping 600m by 300m. It's also a popular place for sunrise ops.

Enough about non-food related pieces. Lunch at the Khmer Village. We invited Hok to join us but he declined gracefully, citing he will eat with the other guides. It was not the first time he has refused our offer. The only time he has joined us thus far was during our first meal in Siem Reap.

Hok ordered for us - Clockwise from 12oc - pork with cashewnut, sour fish soup, tomyum and chicken cooked with basil. Everything tasted awesome! Loads of fibre there so I did not have to go hunting for fruits hehehe. I particularly loved the cashewnut pork and basil chicken. Basil chicken was incredibly fragrant with a hint of lemongrass. Lip-smacking.

Tomyum is a lot milder here, if you were to compare it with the way the Thais prepare them. We were given another small bowl of sour soup with chili bits in it which we added to the tomyum to sourfy and spicyfy it lol.
Keen to try the Khmer desserts, we ordered this sweet potato fritters with coconut milk (initially wanted to take the banana fritter but Ev said the bananas served at our hotel tasted raw even though they are already yellow so we tried something else instead). Lunch came to about $20 I think, which was really not bad since we ordered beer to go with our meal.

Lunch, check. Dessert, and thus we were scooted off to one of the anticipated temples!

Ta Prohm or the Angelina Jolie temple. She made the temple famous because the movie 'Tomb Raider' was shot on this location. But we weren't there because of Angelina Jolie (except maybe for Ev). We were there for the jungle overgrowth and for the experience of being in a temple in a forest (yea right). 

BS aside, Ta Prohm is definitely one of the temples I've enjoyed visiting. Unlike the usual 'pyramid' style of layout synonymous with Cambodian temples, Ta Prohm has a 'flatter' temple layout.

Hok laid out his plans on how we should view the temple. He said that instead to get in through the front and view the insides of the temple, he suggested for us to go around from the front and view Ta Prohm from the outside for a different but beautiful view. 

Just 10 minutes into the temple, the weather changed 180 degrees. Suddenly it got dark and cloudy with a very strong gust of wind almost knocking us off our feet *exaggerated
Rubble which is great for photo op :p Only Ev seems prominent in this shot, TY seems almost camouflaged.

For once we were able to walk a couple of steps before breaking into a sweat. As an added advantage, the temple has trees growing on top, over and out of it.

Right about forty-five minutes in, it started to rain! We ended taking cover in one of the temples, along with twenty other tourists. When it rains in Siem Reap, it really rains. Complete with lightning and thunderstorms. With nothing to do, we started doing mad stuff like this.

Ev's apsara pose damn fail hahahahhahha :D Anyways after about 15 minutes of thinking we will wait for the rain to stop, it was still raining cats and dogs and buffaloes. One of the guys suggested we make a run for it but I was adamant as I managed to stay dry, unlike the others hehe. Coincidentally a local Cambodian girl was passing through and selling plastic ponchos lol. Paid her a dollar for a white with pink polka dotted one hehehe. No pictures though :D

I think Hok was horrified to see us coming out of the temple, drenched, complete with muddy shoes. Though he showed none of this hehehehe. A trip back to the hotel was deemed necessary and Hok will pick us up at 6pm for what he calls a 'real local restaurant'.

Got back and showered, gosh the cold shower felt so good. Wanted to take a nap but ended poring over the leaflets I got from the airport. Sharp at 6, Hok drove us to a restaurant in town, only about 5 minutes' drive from our hotel.

Arun: recommended place for meals. Cheap and good :D

Finally Hok agrees to eat with us. He did the ordering as usual. Great meal coming up!

This is one of my favourites (I know, I seem to be having quite a lot of favourites). Omelette with chillis and Thai basil leaves.

The dinner spread. From top, the basil omelette, steamed fish with garlic and chopped red chillis (not bad), chicken salad (with banana flower. awesome, like kerabu, has sweetness, sour and tangy flavours), beef sour soup (the green one. It looks like it may be green curry but it's not. One thing this does not contain santan and has a mild soupy taste to it and has morning glory vege) and the one on the left is the chicken curry (has pineapples in it too, giving the curry an overall sweet taste. I loike).

When the restaurant staff was scooping rice on our plates for us, I realized that the rice portion was pretty small and stopped the waitress to add more rice for me. She was almost confused, which I think later turned to disbelief at this woman who asked for additional rice when the guys, who equally have small portions of rice, did not! heheheh it was pretty funny though I can almost imagine a thought bubble coming out of Hok's head "oh my god, such gluttony". 

Anyways, to make myself not look too bad, the others also had to repeatedly fill up their plates with rice. Through the process we learnt that rice is called 'Bai' in Khmer. Bai Bai Bai.

The stuffed frogs are the last to arrive. Don't you think they look like they're trying to seduce us lol. Ok apologies that might be offensive to the the frog lovers :D Frog meat was a bit tough and thinking back, I can't quite remember what it was stuffed with. I think minced pork with herbs.

At Ev's insistence, we tried the pineapple palm wine (at $3.50, it's a real steal!). Tastes sweet without the strong bitter taste typically attached to alcohol. Contains only about 8% of alcohol.

Bill came to $26.20 for all that, inclusive of beer! For five people, I say it's a good deal, and good food too. Value for money (like I very pro liddat). Not wanting to retire to our rooms too soon, we asked Hok to drop us off at the local night market for some shopping. Soooo many interesting things to buy but soooo hard to be disciplined about it!

Got a number of local crafts here... silk scarfs, pashmina shawls, little trinkets like fridge magnets, some souvenirs for colleagues. I asked Hok before, how much is considered appropriate for purchase. He replied that we can easily start our bargain at half of the price the sellers give us, then maybe agree upon the 60-70% mark hehehe. Well, I'd say that I was pretty good at it, or just follow the universal rule, walk away and chances are they would chase up to you and agree at your initial low price.

Satisfied with our purchases (well at least I was) and finally the guys were bugging me to go somewhere for drinks, we made a beeline for Pub Street. 

Happening place, a tourist haunt. Beer goes as cheap as 75 cents for draft. Order a pitcher and normally the pubs will throw in a free T-shirt.

We had a hard time looking for an empty table as most  of the pubs are quite filled. I saw a couple of restaurants where there are still a lot of vacant tables but Ev refused point blank, citing not happening. We ended at this club/bar called Angkor What?

And one final shot which I shall caption: ZX paying for the bill and asking us to chip in while I duly and innocently complied but Ev giving the screwy face as though we just asked him to chop his right arm off heheheh. 

Next day itinerary: Hok picks us up at 5:00am (!!!) for sunrise at Angkor Wat.

Phew.... finally complete this entry.


  1. Eyer, up to people la if your post is interesting enough to leave comment or not, chaik.

    Hok... always punctual, always smiley, always polite, always declining to makan together and always seem to be waiting for us no matter when or where. But, one time, we caught him off-guard -- after he dropped us off at the temples and we were done earlier than expected and walked to the food stalls that were set up with tents where we had lunch earlier, and found him lepakking with other guides on the hammock tied between tent poles... I think he was a bit pai seh hehe

    Why the first few pictures are dark and gloomy? Was the weather a factor? I think we went to makan at the same restaurant by Sras Srang. It was much cheaper compared to other places that Hok has recommended. But, the cheapest places to eat are from the hawker stalls lined on the street... yummy and dirt cheap!

    One thing that we didn't do is the night market because emak bising with all the dusts... we only managed to walk out of the hotel to nearby sundry shop to replenish water supply. Speaking of which, we used up the bottled water in hotel room, and tried to replace them with the very same ones that we bought, but upon check-out, they said cannot, hotel has different ones, I argued they're the same brand, end up paying for them... @#@#%@#%*%#*@!

  2. Kekekekek can't imagine the scene when you caught him off guard. But they sure do love their hammocks. Even certain restaurants they have hammocks attached for diners hehehe

    I think the first two pics are just dark because of the settings kot. It's not very sunny yet but it's not exactly cloudy or anything either. Oh, Hok brought us to another one, cheaper than the one at Sras Srang, and tastes much, much better too! Wait for it, I have that mentioned in the next installment... still working on it &^#*$^#&^#

    Heheheh too bad about the water bottles! We were lucky that the hotel provides complimentary drinking water in packaged bottles. There are a few chargeable ones like Evian in the mini bar but we were more than happy with the complimentary ones.


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