Cambodia is a small country with a big history. Now a modest player on the world stage, this was once the seat of one of Asia’s most magnificent early civilizations, the mighty Khmer empire of Angkor, whose legendary temples continue to provide a touchstone of national identity – as well as attracting millions of visitors every year. Away from the temples, much of the country remains refreshingly untouristed and, in many places, largely unexplored. Join the ride in Cambodia!
Overlooking the old market of Siem Reap and hearing the vibe of this Asian city calling us like the sirens’ song to odysseus.
The night lights, from our hostel terrace, listening as a faded music beat lifts above the streets of Siem Reap.
Morning rays of sunshine in our hostel room in Siem Reap.
Besides pork, chicken and beef, you can see a whole frog on the skewers of barbecue carts, which is actually a renowned street food in Cambodia.
Phsar Chas also known as The Old Market is located between Pub Street and the riverside.
“Happy pizza” as Cambodians call it is a known dish in Siem Reap that combines weed and pizza. However, if you order an “unhappy” pizza in one of the Herb restaurants lined up across Siem Reap’s Hospital, the price is almost half down, and the food is very tasty too.
“If you get sick you can buy this, it saved my life” said this girl we met in our hostel in Siem Riep who had just arrived from Koh Rong. Indication : For those who lost energy such as hard workers, sportman, athletes, heavy, sweating people as well as those who suffer from dehydration and hot climate.
Morning colors of Angkor
The Angkor Wat temple is the most magnificent and largest of all the monuments at Angkor. It name means “City Temple” and it is considered to be the largest religious structure in the world.
The cool, chilling temperature early in the morning with misty atmosphere around the temple compound adds an extra layer of peace and tranquility that ones can reminisce for years to come.
A woman meditating on the outer walls of Angkor Wat.
That moment when you realize visiting the temple at sunrise what not only your idea!
“There’s no time to be bored in a world as beautiful as this.”
In the late 13th century, Angkor Wat gradually moved from a Hindu temple to a Theravada Buddhist one. Unlike other temples at Angkor which were abandoned after the fall of the Khmer empire in the 15th century, Angkor Wat remained a Buddhist shrine.
The famous bas-reliefs encircling the temple on the first level depict Hindu epics including the mythical “Churning of the Ocean of Milk”, a legend in which Hindu deities stir vast oceans in order to extract the nectar of immortal life. The reliefs, including thousands of female dancers, are carved into the wall of the third enclosure of the temple. This was as far into the Angkor Wat temple as ordinary citizens were allowed to go, and the scenes depicted were meant to contribute to their religious education and impress them with their king’s knowledge.
“God is in the details” – Mies Van Der Rohe
Good morning Angkor Wat
Waiting for the sunrize at Angkor Wat northern library
It’s only 6am!
As with most other ancient temples in Cambodia, Angkor Wat has faced extensive damage and deterioration by a combination of plant overgrowth, fungi, ground movements, war damage and theft. The war damage to Angkor Wat’s temples however has been very limited, compared to the rest of Cambodia’s temple ruins, and it has also received the most attentive restoration.
The temple has drawn praise above all for the harmony of its design. According to Maurice Glaize, a mid-20th-century conservator of Angkor, the temple “attains a classic perfection by the restrained monumentality of its finely balanced elements and the precise arrangement of its proportions. It is a work of power, unity and style
Apsara Statue at Angkor Wat; a female spirit of the clouds and waters in Hindu and Buddhist mythology.
The middle tower of Angkor Wat symbolizes the sacred mountain, mount Meru.
Some people call it a dream. This is our reality!
Sometimes I cannot believe I have seen the places I’ve seen. And when I realize it, I feel so grateful that I have and count these moments as my blessings, my concurs and my values.
Angkor Wat is a miniature replica of the universe in stone and represents an earthly model of the cosmic world. The central tower rises from the center of the monument symbolizing the mythical mountain, Meru, situated at the center of the universe. Its five towers correspond to the peaks of Meru. The outer wall corresponds to the mountains at the edge of the world, and the surrounding moat the oceans beyond.
It is believed this is the Buddhist teacher Nāgārjuna, sitting on a seven-headed nāga. In Cambodian legend, the nāga were a snake-like race of beings who possessed a large kingdom in the Pacific Ocean.
The outer wall, 1,024 m (3,360 ft) by 802 m (2,631 ft) and 4.5 m (15 ft) high, is surrounded by a 30 m (98 ft) apron of open ground and a moat 190 m (620 ft) wide.
Middle tower of Angkor Wat temple is located on upper most level of the main building.
Angkor Wat, in its beauty and state of preservation, is unrivaled. Its mightiness and magnificence bespeak a pomp and a luxury surpassing that of a Pharaoh or a Shah Jahan, an impressiveness greater than that of the Pyramids, an artistic distinctiveness as fine as that of the Taj Mahal.
Portuguese explorers already visited Angkor Wat in the 16th century. But it was the account of French naturalist Henri Mouhot, who came to Angkor in 1860, that turned the ruins into an international obsession. The French explorer wrote of it: “One of these temples, a rival to that of Solomon, and erected by some ancient Michelangelo, might take an honorable place beside our most beautiful buildings. It is grander than anything left to us by Greece or Rome, and presents a sad contrast to the state of barbarism in which the nation is now plunged.”
Every year, about 2 million tourists visit Angkor Wat in Siem Reap, Cambodia.
Entering the gardens you will see the Library of Angkor Wat that is found in almost all outdoor speakers Khmer temples. Libraries are built in pairs on each side of the path.
Angkor Wat as viewed from the side
The Bayon is best known for the mysterious faces on its many towers. Due to its many alterations over time, the structure is of a very complicated design and has a cluttered feel, with the many towers and other structures cramping the monument.
The temple stands on a terrace raised higher than the city. It is made of three rectangular galleries rising to a central tower, each level higher than the last. Mannikka interprets these galleries as being dedicated to the king, Brahma, the moon, and Vishnu.
Unlike most Khmer temples, the Bayon is not surrounded by a moat and walls with gopura entrance gates. Archaeologists believe that instead the moat and walls of Angkor Thom served as the temple’s line of defense.
Angkor Wat is a sight to behold. It forms a nice picture backdrop that one treasures forever. Its beauty belongs more to the postcards than reality…and yet, the temple is as real as they come.
At the centre of the great city of Angkor lies the Bayon Temple. The Bayon Temple has 52 towers with the huge serene faces of the Jayarvaman VII.
Past the libraries are two lakes, reflecting the silhouette of the of Angkor Wat’s towers offering a wonderful photo opportunity capturing the building reflections on them.
Although the Bayon was a Buddhist temple, other Gods were also worshipped. Separate shrines were dedicated to Vishnu and Shiva, while countless other deities were worshipped.
There is still a debate as to who is being depicted in the faces of the Bayon temple. One school of thought says they represent Avalokitesvara, Mahayana Buddhism’s compassionate Bodh. Other think they are a likenesses Jayavarman VII himself or a combination of him and Buddha.
It’s 5:40 am and this is the sunrise from Angkor Wat. Worth every damn waking up effort!
Angkor Wat temples are surrounded by a lake that is supplied with water from the Siem Reap river. To enter Angkor you must go over the Sandstone Cause way.
“The world is such an extraordinary place to explore”
Behind the Elephant terrace are the ruins of the Royal Palace and the pyramid temple of Phimeanakas. The Phimeanakas is a small, laterite Hindu temple in the shape of a three stepped pyramid. The name Phimeanakas translates to “Celestial Palace”. The temple located in the center of the Royal Palace enclosure was used by King Jayavarman VII as his private temple.
The Bayon temple features a sea of over 200 massive stone faces looking in all direction. Each face has an enigmatic smile, an instantly recognizable image of Angkor, as familiar as Angkor Wat itself. In fact, many people assume that the faces are an integral part of Angkor Wat but it stands in fact at the center of Angkor Thom.
For many thousands of years, the art of stone carving has flourished in Cambodia. From the small statues made by local artisans to the famous, breathtaking carvings found at Angkor Wat, stone carving has become one of the country’s most cherished art forms.
Early morning serenity watching the sun rise within the temple of Angkor Wat.
The temples of Angkor Wat are among the most famous and impressive religious buildings in the world. Long hidden in the jungle they have been rediscovered by the world and the tourism industry just recently. Nevertheless, it is still a bit of magic around.
I’m not sure of how many temples we visited, and the names of all them. I know I should have written them down, but you know what, I prefer to tell you to go and explore by yourself.
The Angkor complex represents the entire range of Khmer art from the 9th to the 14th centuries, and includes a number of indisputable artistic masterpieces (e.g. Angkor Wat, the Bayon, Banteay Srei).
Built by Kings, the Ancient Bayon Temple of Cambodia Mixes Spirituality, History and Symbolism
Angkor is one of the most important archaeological sites in South-East Asia. Stretching over some 400 km2, including forested area, Angkor Archaeological Park contains the magnificent remains of the different capitals of the Khmer Empire, from the 9th to the 15th century. They include the famous Temple of Angkor Wat and, at Angkor Thom, the Bayon Temple with its countless sculptural decorations. UNESCO has set up a wide-ranging programme to safeguard this symbolic site and its surroundings.
The Angkor site receives more than 2 million visitors annually for a reason – It ebbs an aura of divinity that can only be found in Incan and Mayan holy shrines.
Khmer architecture evolved largely from that of the Indian sub-continent, from which it soon became clearly distinct as it developed its own special characteristics, some independently evolved and others acquired from neighboring cultural traditions. The result was a new artistic horizon in oriental art and architecture.
The Angkor complex encompasses all major architectural buildings and hydrological engineering systems from the Khmer period and most of these “barays” and canals still exist today. All the individual aspects illustrate the intactness of the site very much reflecting the splendor of the cities that once were.
Relief at the Bayon temple in Angkor, depicting the Khmer and Cham armies going to war.
The Khmer Empire of the 9th-14th centuries encompassed much of South-east Asia and played a formative role in the political and cultural development of the region. All that remains of that civilization is its rich heritage of cult structures in brick and stone.
Angkor Wat, the largest religious monument in the world is so big as to be hard to take in at once. The 200 metres wide moat and causeway with the 350 meters entrance portico is impressive enough, but the grandeur within its square mile of walls is truly stunning. Over 1 kilometer of spectacular carvings lie within its outer galleries and a vast labyrinth of passages, courtyards and the five lotus flower towers at its centre.
The Bayon was the state temple of King Jayavarman VII, built at the end of the 12th century. It is a mountain temple built to represent Mount Meru, the center of the universe in Hindu and Buddhist cosmology.
To get around Angkor Wat you need a vehicle, no way you can walk the whole complex. Foreigners are not allowed to drive inside the park, so you must hire a bicycle, a tuk-tuk or a van driver.
Before visiting Angkor Wat remember to bring along respectful clothing, since all of the ancient temples are active sites of worship. This includes covering your shoulders with sleeves and wearing long pants.
Unlike most temples of Angkor, Ta Prohm has beek largely left to the clutches of the living jungle. With it’s dynamic interaction between nature and architecture, this atmospheric temple is a favorite for many who can’t help but feel a little bit like Indiana Jones or Lara Croft as they pich through the rubble
There is nothing like Angkor Wat anywhere on this planet! The Angkor Temples are spread out over a vast 100sq kilometre jungle site. At its core the 9sq Km Angkor Thom, or Great City, is contained with high square walls with huge faces carved in the spectacular gateways. Many of the fabulous sights within it, are a world class attractions in their own right.
A monk entering Ta Keo, a mountain temple build by Jayavarman V and ne of the tallest monuments of Angkor. Its five sanctuaries are placed on top of a 22 meter high five stepped pyramid, from where there are good views of the surrounding area. The pyramid shaped Ta Keo was build to represent Mount Meru, the mountain that is the center of the world in Hindu mythology.
The large gopuras (entrance gates) were decorated with large faces of Lokeshvara in all four directions, similar to those of the Bayon. Lokeshvara is a Bodhisattva representing the compassion of the Buddha. Only the Western gate is well preserved in Ta Prohm temple.
One of the many strangulating root formations in Ta Prohm, a beautiful temple, bound by massive roots of huge trees.
According to inscriptions of the Prohm temple’s stele thousands of men and women who were attached to the Ta Prohm temple as priests, dancers or servants lived within the fifth enclosure.
Built from 1186 and originally known as Rajavihara (Monastery of the King), Ta Prohm was a Buddhist temple dedicated to the mother of Jayavarman VII.
That moment you cross Angkor Wat off your bucket list!
Waiting for the boat to Koh Rong
Until few years ago, Koh Rong used to be an undiscovered Island with only a few local families living from what the sea provided.
The southern coastline—exposed to the weather and open sea, is particularly spectacular, whereas the eastern coast, which faces towards the land, is characterized by a sequence of smooth hills, gently sloping towards the numerous crescent-shaped beaches, inlets and bays.
Did you know that no recorded and administered settlements existed on Koh Rong island prior to 2000?
Apart from narrow paths in the jungle—many of these are dead ends that had been created by illegal loggers—there exists absolutely no road network. The islands interior remains non-populated, villages and holiday resorts are confined to the coast and the beaches. Conveniently all transport goes via sea routes. As of 2016, local residents and visitors can take advantage of a well-functioning ferry network.
You can’t find this in Thailand anymore,” said Paddy Robinson, an expatriate Brit and the manager of Monkey Island, who has been on the island for more than five years.
Since there are no roads, you can walk into the amazing jungle or reach the beach you prefer!
“Offers dedicated sleep ambassadors to guide guests in achieving the best night’s sleep” Also known as Mosquito
Cambodia’s southern islands have been likened to Thailand 20 years ago, with Lonely Planet describing them as a “tropical Shangri-La”, saying “the time to go is now” before major development changes the region.
It’s the coco fruit, it’s the coco fruit Of the coco tree, of the coco tree From the coco palm familyyyyy
This is the main road of Sok San Village and our balcony view.
If you’re looking for an authentic Cambodian experience on Koh Rong, the villages are the place to go, and Sok San is the most conveniently situated.
Pristine to picture-postcard-perfect. Koh Rong, where the beaches really are white!
“People don’t know that this exists…I didn’t even know there were islands here when I first came to Cambodia!” said Rudy Schmittlein, the owner of Paradise Bungalows, who six years ago became one of the first Westerners to settle on the island.
Did you know that this is where the 32nd season of the Survivor television series was filmed? Of course surviving here is no challenge for visitors who aren’t participating in reality TV.
Love you to the beach and back!
Koh Rong has neither roads nor cash machines and many businesses and guesthouses have electricity only after dark. But the island boasts 43 kilometers of beautiful beaches, and the number of breezy thatched bungalows and even purpose-built accommodation on the island is multiplying. The world has finally started to discover this undiscovered island paradise, and tourists who are willing to forgo five-star amenities to stay on Koh Rong are amply rewarded.
Just chilling at the Coconut Boulevard at Sok San Long Beach
With its white sand beaches and calm turquoise waters, and a refreshing absence of roads and fast-food joints, Koh Rong has recently — no surprise — become a top tourist and backpacker destination.
The dance of the palm trees, the oceans calling, the first rays of sun and heaven is here. Michael Dolan
Koh Rong has so much to offer, from 43 kilometres of impossibly gorgeous, pristine beach front, along seven bays, all teeming with corals, marine life and fluorescent plankton.
The swimming season in Koh Rong lasts from January to December, twelve months per year! During those months, the water temperature does not drop below 20°C/68°F
In recent years the island’s white sand beaches and calm turquoise waters have grown increasingly popular with visitors, who savor the laid-back vibe on one side of the island and the party scene on the other.
This used to be called Sok San Beach, after the nearby fishing village, but now that it’s being developed by foreigners the miles-long stretch of white sand is being called Long Beach. With its perfect white sand beaches, swaying palm trees, and clear blue-green waters, Koh Rong’s western side is a tropical paradise, albeit one with biting sandflies (that did not bite us btw).
The aquamarine waves gently laps the creamy sand and is very inviting from dawn through to the night time when you can snorkel with luminescent plankton.
Sok San is a sleepy village atop a seven-kilometre stretch of white, white sand, that’s a world away from Koh Touch. There are regular direct slow boats from Sihanoukville and a fast boat primarily serving the production company based there, with an accordingly irregular schedule. Family-run over-water stilted bungalows and basic beach huts are the order of the day here.
– I look my best when I’m totally free, on holiday, walking on the beach – Rosamund Pike
Whether you want to lie back, unwind, and admire the magnificent views, swim in the crystal-clear ocean waters, explore the exotic wildlife, or learn the historic Khmer culture, the stunning Koh Rong island will give you the memories for a lifetime…
If lost…please return to the sea
Stunning coastlines, dramatic headlands, powder sand beaches and tropical forests, all framed by the emerald waters of the gulf and the azure sky
– I feel so a funny in my stomach. – Me too. – My heart’s beating so fast. – Mine too.
Did you know that many elements of Cambodian noodle dishes were inspired by Chinese and Vietnamese cooking despite maintaining a distinct Khmer variation?
Koh Rong is a new few tourist, backpackers island, undeveloped for years. You find paradise beaches, bungalows and good places for snorkeling.
To go out with the setting sun on an empty beach is to truly embrace your solitude. – Jeanne Moreau
“A stranger is a friend you haven’t met yet.” And I am very happy to have met these six amazingly beautiful souls from Uruguay and now call them my friends!
“There was nowhere to go but everywhere, so just keep on rolling under the stars.” ― Jack Kerouac
It is no coincidence that Koh Rong island is affectionately considered as “Hawai of Asia”. It is as awesome as quintessential gem outlined against blue sky. It is extremely such a pristine and noble Koh Rong island that it touches deeply people’s heart.
“We travel, some of us forever, to seek other places, other lives, other souls.” – Anais Nin
I won’t stop travelling until I’ve seen the sun set from every coast.
As in the movie The Beach in Maya Bay, on some islands you can see this incredible spetacle! Sparkling Plankton in the water! Yeah, in Koh Rong you can actualy see it!!!
When it gets dark, look for for phosphorescence.
With international flights having begun servicing Sihanoukville last year, the area is set to emerge as one of Asia’s next hot island destinations.
Primary School in Koh Rong The community Soksan has about 45 fishing families and is located in the southern part of the island of Koh Rong,
While the need for volunteers is great all over Cambodia, it is areas like KohRong and KohRongSamloem Islands that really need assistance. Many of the people of these islands know nothing more than fishing, as this has been an isolated area of the country for generations.
Education is a serious issue, especially on the islands, but so is the overall standard of conditions that many live in.
“There are two means of refuge from the misery of life — music and cats.” ― Albert Schweitzer
Koh Rong is the second largest island of Cambodia. Located in Koh Kong Province about 25 kilometers off the Sihanoukville’s coast in the Gulf of Thailand, the island has 43 km of beaches. Currently, there are four small villages and also home to more than a dozen guesthouses and bungalows.
It’s lunch time in Sok San Village for humans and cats.
If you go anywhere, even paradise, you will miss your home. Malala Yousafzai Ready for our next adventure: a 24 hour bus ride from Sihanoukville to Bangkok and our final destination before flying back home.
There is some uncertainty over the history of the word ‘Rong’ – Some islanders say that it refers to a historical person’s name, while others think it might refer to an old term for ‘cave’ or ‘tunnel’, or to the phrase ‘shelter island’.
“The story of life is quicker than the wink of an eye, the story of love is hello and goodbye…until we meet again” ― Jimi Hendrix
This how leaving paradise looks like …
Bus Ride from HELL!!!
“Don’t wash your feet in the toilet” Just don’t
“It is what it is but a cold beer always helps.” Last night in Bangkok
Time to head back home.
“Clouds come floating into my life, no longer to carry rain or usher storm, but to add color to my sunset sky” – Rabindranath Tagore
Overlooking the Shah Albros mountain peak while flying over Iran.