Was anyone else terrified by the last part of each episode of Legends of the Hidden Temple? You know, the part where kids run through an obstacle course collecting treasures while guards jump out of nowhere, capture them, and drag them away? In case you’re unfamiliar with this game show kidnapping segment, see the fear it instilled here: 14 kids getting terrified by Legends of the Hidden Temple Guards
Aside from inspiring children’s game shows, the temples in Cambodia are the main attraction that leads SE Asia tourists to visiting. There are thousands throughout the country, and you could spend countless hours exploring the sites and learning about their history. We only had a few days, so we stopped in Siem Reap to visit Angkor Wat, the biggest temple of them all.
Siem Reap is actually synonymous with Angkor Wat. Technically, Siem Reap is the city and Angkor Wat is one of the temples (and they are about 20 minutes apart), but if you’re staying in Siem Reap, you’re probably visiting Angkor Wat and vice versa. I don’t have any actual data on this, but it definitely seemed like almost everyone in Siem Reap was either heading to Angkor Wat or had just visited.
Needless to say, our major adventure here was visiting Angkor Wat. Since we opted for the sunrise tour, the shuttle arrived to our hotel just after 4am (we drew the short straw and were the first of five pick ups…). We arrived at Angkor Wat in total darkness around 5am, but soon were guided to the front entrance where hundreds of similarly sleep-deprived tourists had gathered for sunrise. Despite the early wake up and trekking in the dark, I’m really glad we opted for the early morning tour. Sunrise was beautiful, and it meant we got to explore the temple area before it was super packed and super hot later in the day.
After Angkor Wat, we visited two other temples - the temple of “smiling faces” and the “jungle temple”. (The jungle temple’s claim to fame is that it was featured in a Tomb Raider movie..). They each had their own charm, but my favorite was the OG, Angkor Wat. (Sid’s fave was the jungle temple). Here are a bunch of photos from our temple expedition – first are the photos from Angkor Wat, then (though you can probably tell them apart) from smiling faces, and lastly from the jungle. Check them out!
Aside from visiting the temples in Siem Reap, we spent some time hanging out by the pool and exploring the town that was built to cater to tourists. Siem Reap actually has a street called “Pub Street” in the middle of town, which has - you guessed it - dozens of restaurants and bars, almost all of which offer $0.50 - $1 beers all day. I think this photo sums up the kinds of things you can find on Pub Street (somehow, we resisted from buying a set):
Ice Cream Rolls!
In better news, I discovered one of the best treats in Siem Reap - “fried” ice cream rolls! It’s not fried in a traditional sense (in oil), but is made in front of you on a cold plate (kind of like Coldstone) by mashing together milk, cream, sugar, and toppings (which is quickly solidifying on the plate), spreading it out super thin, and then rolling it up into a set of ice cream rolls! Though I discovered this treat in Siem Reap, it was also all over the place in Thailand, so luckily I got to have it a few times :) The whole process takes a few minutes, but here it is condensed down to about 10 seconds:
And the final product!