Angkor Wat Archaeological Park: Day 1

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I hired a tuk tuk driver who worked for my hostel on the advice of the front desk. Any driver in the city will offer to take you around the temples for the day, they all have maps and information and know exactly where all the usual tourists go. It should cost about $15 USD for a full day, my driver asked me for $50 for 2 days and dropping me off at the airport. This was before I knew the standard $15/a day and I agreed. However I realized I was staying an extra day, so I told him I wasn’t going to pay him anything more and he had to drive me around for a whole extra day and make a separate trip to the airport because I called him out on overcharging me. So be wary.

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This also happened when I ordered a coffee at a restaurant in Angkor(while I was waiting for my driver whom I had to wait for quite a bit) the server came back with a cup 1/3 of the way full. I handed it back to her and told her I wanted a cup of coffee not a half. She had a look on her face that said she knew exactly what she was doing and was annoyed I complained. Working literally across the street from one of the most sought after tourist destinations in Southeast Asia, if not all of Asia, she should know not to mess with white people and their coffee.what if I was European? I would have been even more pissed.

Tuk tuk is the most common way for small groups or solo visitors to see the park. However, there are other ways. Many (I will say East Asians, because it’s not just Chinese this time) East Asian tourists go in large tour groups that follow around one guide who holds a little flag and they all wear matching hats and name tags, like kids on a school field trip.

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You can rent your own motorbike and drive yourself. Or a green e-bike, an electric bicycle you can rent for $10 a day in Siem Reap city. They have many charging stations throughout the park. Orby a regular bicycle. I wish I knew this option ahead of time. I would have taken an e-bike and seen the temples completely on my own time and schedule. If someday I were to ever see it again I would choose this method and recommend it to everyone planning on going.

A one day pass to Angkor Archaeological Park, is $20 USD, three days $40, and a week $60. I bought a three-day pass. I think for anyone a three-day pass is sufficient. You can use the multi-day passes any time within a month period so you do not have to use them all in a row, which is great if you want to take your time to see the temples and take sufficient breaks in between so you don’t get sick of them. The passes do not include some of the outlying areas, so have some idea of what you want to see before you buy your ticket.

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Angkor Archaeological park itself is amazing. It covers an expanse of over 400 kilometers, housing the ruins of the Khmer Empire from the 9th to 15th centuries, and a vast amount of forest and farmland. The most famous temple of course being Angkor Wat, followed closely by Ta Prom (where scenes from Tomb Raider were filmed), Bayon Temple and Angkor Thom.

The first place we stopped was Bayon and Angkor Thom, the biggest complex in the park. I snapped a million photos along with everyone else not really knowing what I was looking at. The first two hours I was in awe of what I was seeing. I wasn’t allowed to go into Bayon because I was wearing shorts.

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I spent two hours walking around Angkor Thom, a half of one was spent looking for my tuk tuk driver After wandering around there was one more small ruin I had to see in this complex, by that time it was hot and starting to fill up. I was starting to get irritable and a Cambodian guy came up and started walking with me on the path. He started telling me all these facts about the last ruin and asking me questions and telling me he was an orphan and he studies seven languages at school, I should have just told him then to go away. But after he handed me a sheet of paper that said something about his school and it was for orphans and asking for money. I had 3 dollars and about 4,000 Reel, I told him that was all I had and I looked at the other donations on the paper they were all like 40$. Looking back it was clear that he wrote the information from other patrons in himself and I got scammed. As soon as I handed him the money I was pissed. I am sharing this because it probably happens to solo travelers, especially females, all the time. Don’t let anyone walk with you or give you information just tell them straight away to go away. So this made me angry for the rest of the day and I couldn’t fully enjoy the rest of what I saw. I wasn’t mad I lost $4, I was mad I let it happen and felt helpless to stop it.

After a short lunch break, my driver brought me to some fancy restaurant where I walked in looked at the prices on the menu and walked out. I got street food instead. There are vendors everywhere, selling fruit, noodles, shakes, sandwiches, coffee you cannot walk one km without hearing “Hey lady you want cold drink?” No I do not want a cold drink I can’t drink anything cold anymore after living in Asia, I like my lukewarm water that has been sitting in my backpack all day.

All the drivers probably have a deal with the big restaurants in the park. Even the street vendor food is expensive relative to the price of that in the city. So just be aware that unlike the lovely people of Loas, in such a touristy area, they really do not have your best interest at heart.

Next Ta Keo and Ta Promh. Ta Promh (Tomb Raider) was cool because of all the trees growing through it.

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The last stop was Banteay Kedl.

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And that was all I could handle for one day. It left me with a somewhat frustrated feeling with myself. The same feeling I get after visiting the National Palace Museum in Taipei. I am looking at some amazing artifacts, one of the 7 wonders of the world (check) but I have no real idea of the significance of it because I have very little background knowledge of Asian history.

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