Trip of a Lifetime: Siem Reap, Cambodia

Our Vietnam Adventures ended in Ho Chi Minh City {read about them here and here} and we traveled to Siem Reap, Cambodia.

Let me just go ahead and put this out there now so we can get it out of the way: Cambodia should be on everyone’s Bucket List.  Go there sooner rather than later, because I promise you will want to go back.  I’m pretty much running around in my best Yenta voice telling everyone Have you been to Cambodia?  You have to go to Cambodia!  Why aren’t you going to Cambodia?

We got off the plane and headed straight to Ta Prohm, considered one of the most mysterious of the Angkor temples.  You may think you’re unfamiliar with this temple, but you’ve likely seen it in the Lara Croft: Tomb Raider movie, starring Angelina Jolie {and of course, totally explains her love affair with Cambodia – Have you booked your trip to Cambodia yet?  Why haven’t you called the travel agent yet?!}

When French archaeologists began restoring Ta Prohm during the Colonial Period they deliberately attempted to preserve as much of the existing condition as possible, which meant they left much of the jungle envelopment intact.  As a result, the Temple buildings are smothered with roots of giant banyan trees, which are simply incredible.

taprohm2 taprohm

familyroots

From Ta Prohm we headed over to Angkor Wat to watch the sunset.  You can spend a lifetime reading about Angkor Wat, which is the world’s largest sacred monument and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  It was pretty amazing despite being an overcast day.

angkorsunset

angkorpana

{the full panorama view to include the bridge}

The next morning we woke up at 4:30 AM and hopped on tuk tuks to head to Angkor Wat in time for sunrise.  Yes.  You read that correctly ~ AM.  We waited for dawn with many other crazy people die-hards and watched as the sky turned from pitch black to a slight glow and then finally, the sun peeked through the towers and rose up in full glory to applause from the crowd!  Totally worth the early wake-up without the assistance of Starbucks.

angkorsunrise

We spent the rest of the morning touring Angkor Wat.  The beauty of starting our day so early was that it wasn’t very crowded and we could really explore to our heart’s content.

angkorpeople

angkorwat

After Angkor Wat we headed to another temple that ended up being the family favorite: Bayon.  The last of the Angkor Temples, it is noted for it’s more than 200 faces around the structure {not including ours, of course!}.

familyfaces

facesbayon

It was a little bit like Where’s Waldo trying to find as many faces as possible!

And because I never met an elephant I didn’t love, we took advantage of the opportunity to tour all of Bayon on elephants! {Don’t you think Big Cutie and her Daddy’s elephant looks like he’s wearing a toupee?  Tee Hee!}

ellie

We went back to our hotel and had lunch and a nap, and then went for a boat ride on Tonle Sap, the largest freshwater lake in Asia {quick, anyone have any idea how many boats we’re up to yet?}.  My camera battery died at this point, but we learned a lot about the eco-system there.  Most interesting of all, during the peak of the wet season, the Mekong River gushes into the lake and reverses its current, which increases the surface area four-fold!

On our last day in Cambodia we toured a silk farm and as a special treat went to a photography studio where The Cuties had hair and makeup done and were dressed in traditional Khmer clothing for a photo session.

khmergirlies

As if they didn’t already know they were our princesses! ;-)

At the very last minute, we spontaneously took a helicopter ride over all the temples of Angkor and Siem Reap.  This is one of those things where my children’s enthusiasm encouraged me to do something I’d never otherwise do and I’m so very grateful.  It.was.awesome!

And truly, the perfect way to see the temples we couldn’t possibly fit in visits to.

heli

overview

So that’s our story.

Best 16-day vacation ever.  No fighting.  Amazing history.  Incredible culture.  Lovely people.  Beautiful countries.  Delicious food.  And The Cuties carried their own luggage.  What more could I ask for?

Changed the way we viewed vacations forever more.

And I hadn’t even finished unpacking the duffles when The Husband had another guidebook out and started talking about next winter break…..

So?  Where in the world are you going next? :-)

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2 Responses to Trip of a Lifetime: Siem Reap, Cambodia

  1. Aunt pam says:

    Tokyo! (Well after Boynton beach and Cabo) but those aren’t as exciting!

  2. Kay says:

    I am hiring you as my travel agent.

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