arguably the heart of cambodia is angkor archaeological park, 400 square-kilometers (250 sq. miles) of forested area featuring hundreds of remaining hindu and buddhist temples built from the 9th to 15th century. the most famous are the Temple of Angkor Wat (the world’s largest religious monument seen above), Angkor Thom and Bayon Temple with 216 massive stone faces staring back at you. more about angkor wat here.
how you tackle angkor wat is up to you. it’s virtually impossible to see it all, nor do most have a desire to. visitors have three passes to choose from: 1 day, 3 day and 1 week plus a variety of vehicles for exploring: on foot, via tuk tuk, a tour van/bus or bicycle. most people’s decision comes down to their love of ancient ruins, history and/or religion.
we signed up for a single-day guided bike tour (company info here) and without a doubt, it was the perfect decision for us. in addition to covering the main angkor sights, our guide took us on all kinds of back-road trails to hidden mini temples and gave us the perfect cliff-notes history lesson. in total, we covered 36 kilometers (22 miles) on mountain bikes and had a blast doing it.
since we started this journey in asia, we’ve seen a lot of temples but angkor wat is different. its grandeur blew us away. and to think about people and elephants slowly bringing those stones one-by-one from far away places and then managing to lift, build and carve faces in stone really boggles your mind. it’d be a massive project today, much less during the 9th century. there’s a reason many refer to angkor wat as the “8th wonder of the world.”
super official passes – photos and everything. these we kept.
not sure of the last time i was on a mountain bike. looking the part though, right?
elephant photo bomb.
while it may appear he’s falling off the curb, danny is not. he’s the super cool guy in the group sans helmet taking the dirt roads off the side of the street. #toocool
this tree doesn’t really have any significance to angkor wat, but it reminded me of the tree we were married under.
there’s a huge moat around angkor wat. danny called it an island – that really got a laugh out of our tour guide.
so much preservation work has been done to contend with the massive tree roots. beautiful, but destructive.
back in the day, cambodians were hindus but now they’re buddhists.
please, do not sit on the dragon.
cambodia’s most famous silhouette.
angkor whaaaaat? like WAT.
we must have said, “how awesome is this/that” about 896 times that day.
how cool is this? that’s danny’s back cruising through the archway – so rad.
it’s like this everywhere you look.
a man on rocks, on rocks, on rocks.
as danny took this he said, “your dad is really going to like this photo.” dad? yeah? make your faves list?
i mean, come on. the roots that have grown over the temples? it’s crazy cool.
just chillin’ in a tree root.
me just hanging out in some 9th century ruins and snapping digital pics that’ll go on my 2014 blog. talk about standing the test of time.
just a couple of the 216 stone faces of bayon temple.
how pretty are these deserted back roads through the forested park?
something new to explore at every turn. and every doorway.
… danny bockting gives angkor wat two thumbs up!
and we ended the day with a well-deserved margarita and dip in the pool (do you spy the creep in the water?). if you’re headed to angkor wat, we highly recommend booking a hotel with a pool. it’s a must after long, hot day(s) of temple hunting. and speaking of temple hunting, if you’ve seen angelina jolie’s “tomb raider” movie then you’ve seen some angkor wat – the blockbuster’s opening scenes were filmed there.
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