Cambodia: The Spectacular Journey

 

Why I choose Cambodia to travel as it offers about savouring the sunrise at spectacular Angkor Wat Cambodia’s UNESCO World Heritage Listed Hindu then Buddhist Temple – the city near Siam Reap and the largest religious building in the World.

As I felt after reading so much and listening to people around the world the immense beauty of sandstone temple –city from grey dappled stones to warm peach apricot and brown structures.

I Akshay Rao narrating my life experience of my travel to Cambodia along with my travelling partner Sanjay Tamrakar, Many people said when I was in Raipur my home town it’s not a good place to go on so far and it won’t be worth to see but I feel when you’re passionate about something and you love something you do it.

I and Sanjay planned and done with all tickets and hotel stay one night in Phnom Penh and three nights in Siem Reap so we thought to hire a car over the city or we self drive it if the option is there to travel Floating Village along the outskirts of Siem Reap and explore Angkor Wat.

The final date came and we pushed to Cambodia as it was a tiring journey coz from Raipur we took flight to Kolkata and then Bangkok Swarnabhoomi and changed the terminal to go to Don Mueng Airport to catch the next flight in the morning to Cambodia and with hours of waiting we finally reached the Phnom Penh Airport and the journey which I was waiting for such long time came into reality to explore the beauty of its origin.

When I was standing in front of the Immigration Officer, he asked me why I choose Cambodia for a holiday destination? Then I replied with a smile as I wanna see the largest Hindu temple of Angkor Wat temple complex at Angkor Cambodia, built for the King Suryavarman II in the early 12th century at his state capital city. It is the only one to have remains a significant religious centre since its foundation –first Hindu, dedicated to the God Vishnu, then Buddhist as well as want to experience the life of a village over the lake called as floating village near Siem Reap . By this the immigration officer was stunned with my knowledge of Cambodia which I know little about and I came out of the Airport.

Tips: - There is large number of Counters for Money exchange either by Cash or by credit card with an extra of 2.5% of the amount as well sim card is readily available with a good 3G Network to stay connected.

     I was Searching for Pre-Paid Taxi booth to book and head for the Hotel which I booked was Hotel CCC and while I was in a search I met one Dr Parwinder Sandhu from India as he too was looking for the same , He was from Chandigarh and came to attend a conference so we shared the taxi together of splitting 20 $ in two parts. And we dropped Dr at one location and head for the hotel, upon my arrival warm smiles and a fresh fruit drink welcomed us. I asked the hotel manager to let me know any person who can accompany us with a SUV or Car for my journey of 4 days in Cambodia so he recommended a driver name Toh (+855 078303007 )with a Lexus SUV for 4 days in 170$ and we readily accepted the offer price and told the Toh to come next morning and Next Morning he arrived at 6 am and we were ready to move to the Journey of a life time as I clicked this picture :-

The Journey Started as it was around 318.2 Kms and the road is bad not like the express way but like ok types along the way after 150 kms my friend Sanjay got sick due to motion sickness and we stopped over a clinic for Tabs.

After this we head towards the journey and we came across to people who were selling the wild snakes, I told Toh to pullover and wanted to see and speak to the snake seller and he was selling 5 to 7 snakes in 5 $ and I asked him can I hold them , he said Yes ! And I clicked this shot:-

and I paid the money and little far from a distance I release back all snakes to wild along the lake side of the road. And we continue on the path to see Floating Village first then travel to Siem Reap, after couple of hours we reached a point where we need to take tickets of 20 $ each for the boat which lead us to floating village moreover the boat service is run by a private company which means that the locals don’t really see much of the money generated from tourist,There were many boats along the side.

 It was a joyful ride as water everywhere and saw children were playing on the trees and driving the small boats and showing stunts to us...

Along the path I the saw houses on on stillts, floating pigpens,flower market ,floating kampong phluk school and basketball courts over the water and floating church and floating High Official Govt.office of GENDAMERIE.

The Village has a school and a monastery where prayers were taking place, this was very tranquil and we had soft drinks at KAMPONG PLUK FLOATING RESTAURANT

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My tour guide asked me do I want to sit in small boats and see mangroves forest its very cheap ticket and you came so far so you need to see this , I have purchased the ticket and I was very scared to sit in a small boat along with my camera and mobile phone as if its flipped over my trip will be at stake as I won’t be able to click pictures and all was running on my mind that very moment, I took the courage and let leave things and started it with a smile and a fear together a mixed combination .

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The boats were narrow and one person per boat is allowed, so I sat on the front tip of the boat so can look all 360 degree and click shots from my camera and there was a moment when it became cloudy and I asked the guy who was paddling the boat to click a picture of mine and he did it nice

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Both Sides are covered by mangrove forest and it was a joyful ride after one hour reached back to the same restaurant from where I took this boat and there were many questions were running about the people who are living in this floating village as wanted to know the hard true facts of life of people about how they manage livelihood , about work , their living conditions and I stood beside my tour guide and started asking him , I was informed that due to the lack of power lines in the middle of the lake every household use car batteries to power their cell phones and other electronics. Then I asked what about the water to drink? How they manage?  How do they wash their clothes? My Guide told me “All of their trash ,scraps ,and waste becomes polluted in the same water and with the same water they boil it and they drink and clean their dishes, by hearing this I was amazed and asked myself as we read or see everywhere the large charity organizations who raise awareness about clean drinking water in poverty areas everywhere, I had never quite wrapped my brain around the reality of the situation or come face to face with these people who literally did not have access to drink clean water.

My visit to the floating village had unexpectedly become a rather eye opening experience after having seen what I saw here , I feel we are so lucky and do our best to give back to the world in every way that we can.

I completed this journey with a grief in my heart for the people of floating village and with lots of more questions in my mind and waiting for the time from where and when their journey of life will start with clean water to drink.

 

I need to travel another 33 kms to reach Siem Reap hotel as was too tired, along the way I took halt over a spa for foot massage unlike Thailand then we went to Indian Restaurant to have authentic Indian food restaurant owned by Mr Kulpreet Singh Bhatia ji from Patiala, the food was good and I remember mom as she cook for me with same smell of spices .after having a tasty dinner we head back to the hotel  ( Passaggio Boutique Hotel - 0432 Watdamnak Village, Salakomreurk, Siem Reap, Cambodia ), This hotel has all Amenities yet not good as the carpets in the room smells bad , I think they didn’t washed it or cleaned it for months , the staffs are not friendly at all, and if ever I return back to Cambodia then will look for other hotel.

The Journey of a Life time started next day with a beautiful Sun Rise as it was like an orange ball of fire over my window and my visit to Angkor Wat starts by a symmetrical temple city that replicates the Hindu Universe, then we drove to the park entrance to hand over the entrance fees and the ticket with my photo on it .

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After entering I saw sand stone temple – city from grey dappled stones to warm peach apricot color mixed with brown stones, the entrance has beautiful lotus pond ,

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And it consist of five towers symbolizing the peaks of Mount Meru home to the Hindu pantheon at the centre of the universe, while its sanctuary walls represents the mountains at the edge of the world and its moat the cosmic ocean. The Temple from Entrance looks like heaven is here.

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There is, however, a story about a divine origin of Angkor Wat. Legend has it that the Angkor Wat in Cambodia was built by a son of Hindu god Indra, Khmer King Preh Katomialia. One day he went to the heavenly palace of his father, where everything was perfect, including the barn. He loved the place reserved for the sacred animals so much, that he decided to make its copy on Earth. And that is how a replica of Indra's barn, Angkor Wat, came to existence.

There was a Tower decorated with carvings of Apsara dancers from where I can savor the remnants of the empire & appreciate the evidence of a great undertaking.

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Some of the pillars in the galleries of this site have inscriptions written in Sanskrit and Khmer. And there was huge passage over the top from where the light was coming down.

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This Temple is known for the 216 Giant faces of the King Jayavarman that look serenely down on the temple dwellers. Angkor Wat is also called a "funeral" temple: the reason for its construction was so that the king's ashes could be placed there. To simply it, the purpose of this complex is the same as that of pyramids of Egypt.

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After seeing this temple wanted to see Ta Prohm which is located at the north east corner, Ta Prohm is a beautiful temple, bound by massive roots of huge trees. Back in the days it was very different: one could see walls decorated by precious stones. When in late nineteenth century Ta Prohm was discovered by French, they decided not to conduct a full-scale restoration of the temple. The decision was made due to the fact that giant trees, such as ficus and silk tree, were so merged with ancient walls that eventually they became whole,construction on Ta Prohm began in 1186 AD. Originally known as Rajavihara (Monastery of the King), Ta Prohm was a Buddhist temple dedicated to the mother of King Jayavarman VII.

A rare inscription at Ta Prohm provides statistics on the temple's workers. Allowing for some exaggeration to honor the king, the inscription's report of around 80,000 workers, including 2700 officials and 615 dancers, is still astounding.

Sadly, Ta Prohm was looted quite heavily in recent years due to its relative isolation, and many of its ancient stone reliquaries have been lost.

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I saw many Indian people working on a project ie India – Cambodia Co-operation Project for Conservation and Restoration of Ta Prohm Temple, there was a board on the entrance of Ta Prohm.

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After this I had a walk around on the grass at the rear of the temple and I took lots of shots, by this point a couple of hours had already passed by this time we were hurtling towards sunset and off to my final stop on the grand tour, I wish I have more time to see Phnom Bakeng , this is a temple on top of a hill which is most famous for its sunset views and the view back down to Angkor Wat. I wish I would have more time but could only squeeze a couple of days , even in the short time I visited one of the most memorable and inspiring places on earth .

In other Words it is remarkable beyond words …

Author

Akshay Rao

Akshaymay29@gmail.com

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