Okay, confession. We are back in the USA and not in Cambodia as this blog post might make you think, but we are going to do a few more posts from home to make sure JDAdventure is complete. We had a no-blogging-on-our-Australia-honeymoon rule, then we flew home and moved back into our apartment, went back to work – and anyways, here we are talking about a trip to Angkor Wat that seems like it happened in another lifetime. Oh well!
Anyways, back to Asia!
When we were planning our trip everyone told us we absolutely had to see Angkor Wat, the largest religious monument in the world. ‘Can’t miss it, incredible, 8 days was not enough…’ was all we heard. So we went!
And then it was a little disappointing. Sometimes in blog-land everything seems so perfect and happy, so I’m here to burst your bubble.
You do not absolutely have to see Angkor Wat. There cannot possibly be a place that 100% of travelers love, and in this case, I was definitely part of the minority that was not feeling the Angkor Wat love.
Dan and I both realized that after eight days in Burma with the out-of-this-world temple-viewing in Bagan, we didn’t really have ‘fresh eyes’ (as another traveler put it) to take it all in. We were a bit tired and templed-out.
Case in point, I took a little nap while Dan climbed some steep temple stairs.
We also arrived in Siem Reap on the heels of a very remote and un-touristy trip to Burma. Now with over two million tourists a year (up from about 600,000 in 2006), Angkor Wat felt like Disney World. There were huge tour buses in traffic jams and a bajillion people everywhere, not to mentioned the Dairy Queen in the Siem Reap airport.
The upside is that we really realized how unique our Burma experience was. Burma was totally off the beaten path, and we felt lucky to have been there before it potentially becomes another…Angkor Wat.
Okay, enough on the negativity. After dealing with the tourism culture shock we had a really nice 1.5 days in Siem Reap.
And even though Angkor Wat can feel crowded, there were moments when we were totally alone.
The temples are incredible.
And go on for miles.
Admittedly, we also did not prepare quite as well as we could have for this trip. This comes with traveling for three months. Between Lonely Planet, Trip Advisor, and emails to friends, Dan researched Burma like a crazy man. Then we just showed up in Angkor Wat, ready for a break from planning. Not the best idea since Angkor Wat is a place that requires some research to make it worthwhile. I would highly recommend finding an excellent guide. We skipped the guide and just had a driver from our hotel take us around. He immediately proceeded to lock his keys in the car outside of the first temple. Oops! So not only were we melting in the heat waiting for an extra set of keys, but we didn’t have a great guide to give meaning to the places we saw. Lesson learned for next time.
Thanks for reading our first back-in-the-USA blog post. It’s fun to relive the trip again and a million times easier to blog from a laptop than a tablet. I only wish it was warm enough in San Francisco to break out those hot pink elephant pants! Until next time…