My first trip to Cambodia and Angkor Wat was in 1999. The site was not fully accessible due to land mines; the town was small and consisted of a few old colonial buildings and wood frame houses. Today the city shines with new buildings, over 200 hotels, and an entire central area of restaurants and bars. This is a stark contrast to the country side where you see small wooden houses build on stilts. the one small room houses an entire family. Many of the homes do not have electricity and of course only an outdoor toilet.
Angkor Wat–11 years later
The tourist area with its glitz and lights and paved streets are a stark contrast to the way of life of the average Cambodian.
On the first day after our arrival at Siem Reap we toured the small circuit of temples which starts with the majestic Angkor Wat and then continues on to the other smaller temples. Although they may be smaller, they each have special attractions, such as Ta Prohm with the trees growing out of the walls. Angkor Thom has over 500 heads peering from you from everywhere.
The second day we did the long circuit which highlights a visit to Banteay Srei which is known as the “women’s temples” due it is fine carvings. It is reported that only the hands of a women could carve such fine detail and with so much elegance.