Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Temple Chronicles: Neak Pean

Me: Oh my, are we going to walk again?
DB: Of course, Polla can't go inside.
Me: But I can't even see the end of it.
DB: Do you want to go back to our tuktuk? I'll go ahead alone.
Me: No, I'm going with you.

Don't get me wrong here, I'm used to long walks, believe me. It just so happen that we were up so early to catch our Siem Reap flight from Kuala Lumpur that morning and I was already hungry so exhaustion somehow caught the best of me. But I wouldn't miss seeing the temple up close, what's another  few callouses on the feet right?

The most unconventional temple in Siem Reap, Neak Pean is a unique island-temple in the middle of the Jayatataka or Northern Baray which is at the same time surrounded by 4 smaller square ponds.The artificial island consists of a set of circular steps above which the shrine dedicated to Avalokiteshvara rests. Originally, Neak Pean could only be reached by boat. Two Nagas or serpents encircle the base of the island, giving the temple its actual name, which means "coiled serpents".

The highlight of Neak Pean includes the three-dimensional horse sculpture in the main
pond swimming towards East.

One of the smaller square ponds

Rest period turned photo shoot.

Temple Chronicles: Ta Som

Ta Som Temple is a small and charming Buddhist temple built by King Jayavarman VII in the 12th century in a classical Bayon style. This style of architecture depicts towers with large faces and giant roads in between them.

The design was simple but genius!

In spite of its semi ruinous state Ta Som has a captivating beauty like very few of the Angkor temples due to its remote location and the merge of nature with the temple.

Renovation is still on-going as with most of the temples. From what we've read, a lot of countries including Japan, South Korea and Germany have already sponsored in restoring them.

A large ficus tree has grown out of the East gate causing considerable structural damage but creating a picturesque sight.

I was telling DB to climb but he was shy and too tired already.

So he kept pushing me to climb..

For photo ops only. *wink*

Monday, May 30, 2011

Temple Chronicles: East Mebon

Rising three levels from the ground and crowned by five towers, East Mebon temple was built during the reign of King Rajendravarman on what was an artificial island in the middle of the now dry East Baray. The temple is dedicated to Shiva in honor of the King Rajendravarman II's parents.

Me in one of the five towers

A thousand years ago, the waters of the East Baray would have lapped around the temple's foundation but nowadays it has completely dried up.

Restaurant with No Name at East Mebon, SR

We visited one temple and we were hungry like pigs. Before proceeding to East Mebon, we decided to have lunch first at the restaurant in front of the temple.

It was our first meal in Cambodia so we were clueless on what to order. The cook/waitress told us to try out Amok and Curry, the more famous Khmer dishes.  DB's Amok was too slimy for my taste while my Chicken Curry needed more flavor, my Dad's version is so much better.

Fish Amok

Chicken Curry

Not so bad but not worth raving about.

Temple Chronicles: Banteay Srei

A good one hour tuktuk ride from our hotel, Banteay Srei or "Citadel of Woman" is one of the temples I was looking forward to visiting.  

Completed in 967, this Hindu temple complex is built for Hindu God Shiva. What sets it apart from the other temples is the red sandstone that was used to build it making it stand out even from afar.

You can visit the museum first to get a better understanding of the temple.

Considered the most beautiful temple, Banteay Srei is widely praised as the "Jewel of Khmer Art".

The beautifully detailed carvings is just breathtaking!

If you get tired from all the walking, you can take a rest at the big and sturdy branch of the trees like this one.

As with most tourist spots, souvenir shops are lined up at the exit gate featuring Khmer work of art.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Before Visiting the Temples

there a few things you should keep in mind:

1. Plan your itinerary. There are temples which are out of the way so better make a list so you won't miss it out or waste your time going back.

2. Hire a tuktuk or a car to go around the temples. You can ask the concierge in your hotel to get one for you.  Or if its not too hot, you can borrow a bicycle from your hotel for free.

Hi Polla!

3. Bring US dollars, preferably in small denominations since almost everything is charged in USD.

4. Wear comfortable shoes and clothes, you'll be walking and climbing a lot! If you're visiting Angkor Wat, don't wear shorts or if you must, make sure its knee high or they wont allow you to climb and you'll be missing out on seeing the surroundings of the temple from above just like me.

5. Bring water to keep you hydrated.

6. Wear sunscreen, bring a hat, umbrella or anything that will protect you from the harmful rays of the sun. Two days of visiting the temples and we both got a tan.

7. Don't forget to bring a camera. Keep an extra battery in handy since you'll be taking a lot of pictures here. Siem Reap is a very charming place.

8. You'll need to register at their Tourist Assistance Center and pay the corresponding fee depending on how many days you'll be visiting the temples. USD20 for a one-day pass and USD40 for a two-day and three-day pass.  Once the pass is given to you, you're all set to visit as many temples as you could.

Always have the pass with you at all times because it will be inspected everytime you enter a temple.

Enjoy and happy exploring!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Tara Angkor Hotel

Conveniently located  near the famous Angkor Wat and the Old Market, Tara Angkor Hotel has been our home in the two nights we spent in Siem Reap.

It was love at first sight.

I knew I was going to be spoiled here because from the time we rode the service from the airport, I never lifted a hand to carry my things again. There was always someone to assist you, and boy, they were persistent!

Upon arrival at the hotel, we were ushered to the lounge area instead of queuing in line to check in at the reception lobby. We were given refreshments and cold towel while a staff fill up the forms and all that was left was for me to sign it.

Fresh flowers adorn the lobby

Welcome drinks

Local newspaper and magazines

Now I present you our room..

Standard room

It was very clean not even a layer of dust on the tables.



Other facilities and services that made me fell in love with the hotel even more:
  • Swimming pool with jacuzzi
  • Fitness center
  • Free bicycle usage
  • Tour desk
  • Free wifi internet access

We were also given a lot of freebies which include:
  • Free airport transfers from and to the airport
  • Buffet breakfast at the Tong Tara Restaurant
  • 30-minute foot massage at the Tara Spa
  • Complimentary drinks at the Lily Lounge

The path that leads to the Tara Spa

The warmth, kindness and the willingness to go the extra mile of the staff of Tara Angkor Hotel made our trip extra memorable. A four-star hotel at two-star rate, what more can you ask for?

Modern and elegant design


Tara Angkor Hotel
Vithei Charles de Gaulle
Phum Mondul III, Slorkram
Siem Reap, Kingdom of Cambodia
Tel.: (855) 017 582 231
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