Bayon Temple

bayon

Bayon Temple in Angkor Wat was the last temple that we visited during our stay. We made it there shortly after sunrise when the the air was still cool and the temple was still and quiet. It didn’t take us long to make our way through Bayon Temple as it’s one of the smaller ones in the size. But what it lacks in square footage, it makes up for in detail. Filled with over 200 face carvings of Lokesvara; who embodies the compassion of all Buddhas, it is said to have a striking resemblance to the King at the time it was built. Each face is intricately carved in stone and can be found stacked and carved on every available surface. While Ta Prohm still wins for my favorite temple, this one comes in a close second due to its sheer originality among the other temples.
bayon temple, angkor wat

bayon templetemple entrance angkor wat

 

Cambodia Budget

cambodia budgetTraveling to Cambodia was on of the easies to plan and come up with a Cambodia budget for. I think part of it had to do with the fact that this was our fourth country we had visited in SE Asia. While not identical, prices are fairly similar in this area and you can use budgets from other countries to get a rough idea on how much to budget for. While in Cambodia, our main form of entertainment and activities were the temples of Angkor Wat, walking around the Old Town area at night and lounging by the pool in the heat of the day when is was simply too hot to do much else. While there is much to see an do in Cambodia, it wasn’t nearly as touristy as Thailand and therefore part of the reason why there was not much more on our bucket list than the Angkor Wat temples. Even though I have heard of amazing day trips to be taken but we simply didn’t have any full days to spare. This was great for the budget and also one of our first vacations where we spent more time relaxing and going for leisurely strolls than rushing to be able to see and do everything that we want to. Many times on vacation the main focus is not on relaxing; we can do that any Saturday at home. Instead it’s about taking advantage of every opportunity we can during our short time in a county. With that being said, this break from the norm wasn’t all that bad and we enjoyed being able to see everything we wanted to and be able to spend a lot of time relaxing.

The budget below reflects the prices for six nights and seven days for both my husband and I.
cambodia budget

Ta Prohm-Cambodia

Ta Prohm temple inside of Angkor Thom complex was by far my favorite that we saw while we were in Siem Reap. Remember how I love trees jutting out of rocks? This was pretty much the epitome of just that. It’s even where the tree made famous by Tomb Raider stands in all its glory.

Ta Prohm Temple, Siem Reap Cambodia

That morning we set our alarms for 4:30am wanting to be at the temple just after five. We knew that most people would be heading to Angkor Wat for sunrise so we were hoping to have Ta Prohm all to ourselves in the perfect sunrise light. We weren’t disappointed. When we arrived, there was just one other couple with the same idea as us. Not even the guards were awake as we passed them, still groggy in their hammocks from the night shift.

We wandered through the never ending maze of crumbling walls, tree roots and the reconstruction of the walls they could still salvage. Each tree seemed even more unique than the last as we gave into our click happy fingers, racking up what felt like hundreds of photos in just a matter of hours.
ruined temples at Ta Prohm Temple, Siem Reap CambodiaTa Prohm Temple, Siem Reap Cambodiatrees at Ta Prohm Temple, Siem Reap CambodiaTa Prohm Temple, Siem Reap CambodiaTa Prohm Temple, Siem Reap CambodiaTa Prohm Temple, Siem Reap Cambodia

When we finally managed to pull ourselves away from the awe that we felt, we could see the tourists filling the space, fresh from seeing what I can only imagine to be yet another beautiful sunrise over Angkor Wat. But I would take the silence and emptiness of Ta Prohm over that any day.

A Cambodian Cooking Class Plus Recipes

I’m going to take a break from the temples (even though I have plenty more pictures to come) and head in the food direction. We were able to take a Cambodian cooking class and learn some really easy Cambodian recipes! Food is one of my favorite parts about visiting a country and Cambodia was no different. Right next to our hotel was a quaint little restaurant in which we first fell in love with the Cambodian curry dish of a mok. So when we found out that they offered cooking classes, we jumped at the chance. When we showed up we were pleasantly surprised to see that we were the only students in the class. Perfect.

Cambodian cooking class, siem reap, cambodia

Our teacher started out with a tour of the nearby market, pointing out necessary ingredients, how to pick ripe fruits and veggies (something I tend to struggle with) and pointing out the local vegetation. Below are two different Cambodian recipes: spring rolls and a delicious chicken a mok.cambodian market Plus we got to wear awesome chef’s hats, always a bonus to get blackmail pictures of Jeremy.try a cooking class in cambodia!

A lot of times I have difficulty following complex recipes online when I can’t actually see someone else do it first. I’m always worried that mine doesn’t look right! Our teacher taught us how to make everything from scratch but while we were still in town, we went by the market and grabbed a few packets of the a mok spices that are already blended. It makes it really easy when you’re in a hurry or you can’t find all of the spices that you need!
easy simple recipe for cambodian a mok
easy simple recipe for cambodian a mok
Khmer A Mok (serves 4)
What you need:
+ 1 teaspoon turmeric
+ 4 cloves garlic minced
+ 1 tablespoon ginger minced
+ 1 tablespoon lemongrass minced (about one stem)
+ 1/2 onion
+ 1 cup water
+ 2 chicken breasts
+ spinach
+ two cups coconut cream
+ 1 teaspoon salt
+ 1 tablespoon sugar
+ two eggs
+ 2 tablespoons fish sauce
+ peanut (added on top)
What you do:
Chop turmeric, garlic, ginger, lemon grass and mash in blender or food processor. Alternatively, you can use a mortar
In a pan, heat first half of coconut milk, mix in the paste and chopped onion
+ Lower the heat, add the chicken
+ After a few minutes, add water, stir 1 minute
+ Then add spinach along with the other half of coconut milk, salt and sugar. Continue to cook gently for about 10 minutes until thickened
+ Crack two eggs on top and fry
+ Final touches: add fish sauce and peanuts on top.
Serve with rice


great easy recipe for spring rolls

Spring Rolls (serves 4)

 

What you need:
+ Rice paper
+ 1 chopped garlic clove
+ 2 tablespoons water
+ handful of bean sprouts
+ 1 carrot sliced
+ 1 cucumber cut into long thin strips
+ Handful of basil leaves
+ Chopped lettuce

Sauce
+ 1 tablespoon fish sauce
+ 1 teaspoon brown sugar
+ 2 garlic cloves crushed
+ 1 teaspoon chili paste


What you do:
+ Dip each rice paper in the water just enough to get it wet, set aside on plate
+ Add veggies, start to roll halfway, tuck in the sides and tightly wrap it the rest of the way
+ Rub a small amount of oil on the outside of the spring roll
great easy recipe for spring rolls

Famous for a Reason-Angkor Wat

Angkor wat, siem reap

One place we just couldn’t miss while visiting Siem Reap was Angkor Wat. By far the most famous of all the temple complexes, it’s also the most visited.

Storms over Angkor Wat

TIP: we bought our tickets for the temples the day before we wanted to go at 4:40pm when they were first available for purchase. This allowed us to enter the temple complex that night until close at around 6:30. We used this time to visit Angkor Wat and therefore saving the whole next day for the rest of the temples.

Carvings at Angkor Wat, Siem Reap

We were actually planning to go to Angkor for sunset but the weather had other plans. Ominous clouds loomed over the complex as Jeremy ran to get some shots. These are not the typical rose colored shots that you typically see people capture of the temple but they have their own charm.

Silhouette at Angkor Wat

After capturing shots outside, we ran inside just in time to watch the downpour from the protection of the large stone structure. As the rain pounded outside and we wandered the inner passageways we couldn’t help but wonder what it looked like in its prime. Intricate cavings covered every wall detailing traditional Cambodian apsara dancers, headless statues decapitated during the rise of the Khmer Rouge lined the darkened hallways and the smell of incense from the many offerings wafted through the air. Surreal doesn’t even begin to describe meandering through such a historic site as this.

Quick history lesson: built in 802 and taking 30 years to complete from the work of 5,000 artisans and 50,000 laborers, this 500 acre temple complex is one of the largest ever built. Originally built by a king as a temple for the Hindu god Vishnu, the complex and city around it flourished until the 1400’s when present day Thailand invaded and the temple was abandoned only to be rediscovered in the 1800’s.

Scripture at Angkor Wat, Siem Reap
The actual architecture of Angkor has significant meaning as well. The peaks in the middle of the complex are supposed to signify Mount Meru, the mountain where the Hindu gods are said to dwell at the center of the universe. The five peaks of Meru are represented by the sprouting lotus bud like towers in the middle. The surrounding walls stand for mountains and the moat stands for the ocean.
Angkor wat, siem reap