Category Archives: Travel

Ta Prohm

Ta Prohm temple Siem Reap Angkor Cambodia. Crumbling ruins reclaimed by nature and overgrown with trees and roots. Ta Prohm temple doorway Siem Reap Angkor Cambodia. Crumbling ruins reclaimed by nature and overgrown with trees and plants. Ta Prohm temple Siem Reap Angkor Cambodia. Ruins with large tree roots. Ta Prohm temple path Siem Reap Angkor Cambodia. Crumbling ruins reclaimed by nature and overgrown with trees and plants. Ta Prohm temple Siem Reap Angkor Cambodia. Crumbling ruins. Ta Prohm temple Siem Reap Angkor Cambodia. Crumbling ruins reclaimed by nature and overgrown with trees and plants. Ta Prohm temple arch hallway Siem Reap Angkor Cambodia. Crumbling ruins reclaimed by nature and overgrown with trees and plants. Ta Prohm temple Siem Reap Angkor Cambodia. Crumbling ruins reclaimed by nature and overgrown with trees and roots. Ta Prohm temple Siem Reap Angkor Cambodia. Crumbling ruins reclaimed by nature and overgrown with trees and roots. Ta Prohm temple Siem Reap Angkor Cambodia. Stray dog waiting by Tuk Tuk. Ta Prohm temple Siem Reap Angkor Cambodia. Crumbling ruins reclaimed by nature and overgrown with trees and roots. Ta Prohm temple Siem Reap Angkor Cambodia. Crumbling ruins reclaimed by nature and overgrown with trees and roots. Ta Prohm temple Siem Reap Angkor Cambodia. Crumbling ruins reclaimed by nature and overgrown with trees and roots. Ta Prohm temple Siem Reap Angkor Cambodia. Crumbling ruins with huge tree. Ta Prohm temple Siem Reap Angkor Cambodia. Crumbling ruins reclaimed by nature and overgrown with trees and plants. Ta Prohm temple Siem Reap Angkor Cambodia. Crumbling ruins reclaimed by nature and overgrown with trees and roots. Ta Prohm temple Siem Reap Angkor Cambodia. Crumbling ruins reclaimed by nature and overgrown with trees and plants. Ta Prohm temple doorway Siem Reap Angkor Cambodia. Crumbling ruins reclaimed by nature and overgrown with trees and roots.

Out of all the temples we visited whilst we were in Siem Reap, Ta Prohm was my favourite. Nestled amongst the ancient trees, this magnificent structure rises up. Abandoned and left to ruin by those who built it, its crumbling frame now becoming steadily reclaimed by the jungle surrounding it. Heavy, twisted tree roots creep down the moss covered walls as if melting in the heat of the sun, and tendrils spill over doorways and snake around pillars, smothering its remains.

Whilst walking around Angkor Wat filled me with an open-mouthed sense of awe, Ta Prohm left me feeling completely enchanted. Inside the temple complex it feels as if you’ve stumbled into a place where time has stood still, where each corridor, doorway and fallen brick seem to tease the possibility of discovery. I can only imagine what it must have felt like for those explorers who first uncovered it, but here you’re given that rare opportunity to get a small glimpse into that feeling of wonder for yourself. As it featured prominently in the first Tomb Raider film, it’s often referred to as the ‘Tomb Raider Temple’ by both locals and tourists alike. I must admit, being a huge fan of the games as a teen, I definitely felt like I was getting to live out all of my Lara Croft tomb raiding fantasies here!

Many of the rooms and passages through the temple are now impassible, blocked by jumbled piles of stone and the remains of long-dead trees. Wandering down a dark hallway and emerging into a small courtyard to find all other routes blocked, really adds to the sense of adventure and discovery, especially when there are no crowds to follow. We reached Ta Prohm around mid-afternoon, and this seemed like an ideal time. It was quiet and peaceful, with small groups spread out across the large site, a world away from the bustling crowds we found at the other temples we visited that day. This was a happy accident for us, but if you can, I’d reccomend trying to time your visit to arrive during the least busy times of the day. It’s so worth the extra planning to experience the site at a slower, more relaxed pace.

If you’re only in Siem Reap for a short while, Ta Prohm and Angkor Wat should be at the top of your list. Both are unmissable and extraordinary in their own unique ways and you should allow yourself plenty of time to get lost amongst the walls of each.

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Angkor Wat

Pink purple sunrise at Angkor Wat temple complex Siem Reap Cambodia. Crowd with mobile phones in the dark waiting for sunrise at Angkor Wat temple complex Siem Reap Cambodia.

Angkor Wat has been somewhere I’ve longed to visit ever since I was a child. It always seemed like such an enchanting place, brimming with history and the promise of adventure. I dreamt of getting lost in its corridors, peering through windows, running my hands along pillars and carvings, and wondering what sights this ancient place must have witnessed over its lifetime.

I hadn’t been able to sleep that night, but it didn’t matter, the excitement of knowing I was finally going to see the sun rise over Angkor Wat had already kicked in and taken over. We set off from our hotel at 5am and headed into the night as our taxi driver sped off towards the site. Once we arrived we stumbled through the pitch black across the main bridge, guided by the light of the hundreds of phones and torches in front of us. As we approached, my eyes began to adjust and I could just make out the distinctive shape of the five towers in the distance. We settled ourselves in front of the reflection pool, and waited for morning to break.

The sky was very overcast that morning, and I admit I felt a twinge of sadness when I realised I wasn’t going to see one of those magnificent sunrises I’d seen in all of those travel photos I’d poured over. Instead, a hazy lilac pink wash enveloped us as the sky gradually faded from black. It wasn’t what I had pictured for all of those years, but the dusky colours and soft early morning light gave it a magical, otherworldly quality.
 

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Despite the number of people crowded around the pool as the sun rose, once we were inside the temple it felt much more relaxed. This is in part because a lot of people leave after the sunrise and return later in the day, but also because of the size of the site. I knew Angkor Wat was a huge complex, but I don’t think you can truly realise quite how vast it is until you’re standing there.

I went off by myself to explore as Nat stayed by the shrine, and whilst walking through the corridors there were moments where it felt like I had the place all to myself. I stopped to take a break and sat down on top of a platform by one set of stairs, as I looked out across the grounds I couldn’t see or hear a single other person. It was so peaceful and one of my favourite moments, one I remember telling myself to really drink in and savour.

The site itself was everything I had imagined. I felt like a child again as I stood in complete awe, viewing the same sights I’d devoured photos of through my own eyes. We spent most of the morning there, but I could honestly have stayed all day. It really deserves at least half a day to properly appreciate.

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Banteay Srei

Banteay Srei Citadel of Women beautiful carved pink sandstone Hindu temple in Siem Reap Cambodia. Banteay Srei Siem Reap Cambodia beautiful forest countryside with buffalo. Banteay Srei Citadel of Women beautiful carved pink sandstone Hindu temple in Siem Reap Cambodia. Banteay Srei Citadel of Women beautiful carved pink sandstone Hindu temple in Siem Reap Cambodia. Banteay Srei Citadel of Women beautiful carved pink sandstone Hindu temple in Siem Reap Cambodia. Banteay Srei Citadel of Women beautiful carved pink sandstone Hindu temple in Siem Reap Cambodia. Banteay Srei Citadel of Women beautiful carved pink sandstone Hindu temple in Siem Reap Cambodia. Banteay Srei Citadel of Women beautiful carved pink sandstone Hindu temple in Siem Reap Cambodia. Banteay Srei Citadel of Women beautiful carved pink sandstone Hindu temple in Siem Reap Cambodia.

Banteay Srei is a small, but breathtaking 10th-century temple complex built from solid pink sandstone and nestled within the Cambodian forest. Dedicated to the Hindu goddess Shiva, it’s also known as the ‘Citadel of Women’ and is renowned for the beauty of the intricate carvings which cover the walls like a tapestry. It’s considered by many to be a jewel in the crown of Angkorian art and architecture, and features some of the most beautiful and detailed carvings from the ancient world.

As we made our way through the trees along sandy paths, we passed buffalo roaming next to the baray. We reached Banteay Srei just as the sun was beginning to descend, bathing the pink stone in a beautiful golden hour glow. We hadn’t expected it to be so small. It looked like a perfectly formed miniature of the others, as if it had come straight from a fairytale. I can only imagine how magical this place must have looked and felt as a place of worship, before it was abandoned and left to the forest.

The crumbling structure, blackened from years of weathering still holds some magic though. The delicate carvings depicting Hindu epics and tales have been so beautifully preserved, and the detail they contain is completely enchanting. It’s often said that this place was named ‘Citadel of Women’ not only for its beauty and grace, but also because these delicate carvings could only have been created by female hands.

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Motorbiking Through The Cambodian Countryside

Motorbiking through the Siem Reap countryside in Cambodia on a Honda Dream. Dusty red orange sand roads. Motorbiking through the Siem Reap countryside in Cambodia, tuk tuks on the road. Motorbiking through the Siem Reap countryside in Cambodia. Motorbiking through the Siem Reap countryside in Cambodia. Local fisherman on the road. Siem Reap countryside in Cambodia, local shops by the side of the road. Motorbiking through the Siem Reap countryside in Cambodia, local on motorbike carrying rugs and blankets. Countryside landscape in Siem Reap Cambodia. Motorbiking through the Siem Reap countryside in Cambodia on a Honda Dream with Khmer Ways. Dusty red orange sand roads. Countryside landscape in Siem Reap Cambodia, cows by the side of the road. Countryside landscape in Siem Reap Cambodia, reservoir with wooden shelters. Motorbiking throught the Siem Reap countryside in Cambodia on a Honda Dream, roadside stop. Countryside landscape in Siem Reap Cambodia, fields and Kulen mountain. Motorbiking through the Siem Reap countryside in Cambodia on a Honda Dream with Khmer Ways, roadside stop. Countryside landscape in Siem Reap Cambodia by reservoir. Countryside landscape in Siem Reap Cambodia wooden shack shelter. Countryside landscape in Siem Reap Cambodia, stream and views of Phnom Kulen mountain. Countryside landscape in Siem Reap Cambodia, dusty sand roads. Motorbiking through the Siem Reap countryside in Cambodia lake and landscape. Motorbiking throught the Siem Reap countryside in Cambodia on a Honda Dream. Dusty red orange sand roads. Motorbiking throught the Siem Reap countryside in Cambodia on a Honda Dream with Khmer Ways. Countryside landscape in Siem Reap Cambodia, dusty sand roads and local on bike. Siem Reap Cambodia countryside ruins of Koh Kyorng overgrown with trees. Siem Reap Cambodia countryside ruins of Koh Kyorng overgrown with trees. Siem Reap Cambodia countryside ruins of Koh Kyorng overgrown with trees. Countryside landscape in Siem Reap Cambodia, dusty roads. Siem Reap countryside in Cambodia, small stupa on temple grounds. Siem Reap countryside in Cambodia, local shop with Cambodian flags. Siem Reap Cambodia Buddhist Temple. Colourful flags and decorations hanging inside bright painted Buddhist temple in Siem Reap Cambodia. Siem Reap Cambodia countryside dog and young boy with bike. Siem Reap Cambodia Buddhist temple small stupas in the garden. Colourful flags and decorations hanging inside bright painted Buddhist temple in Siem Reap Cambodia. Countryside landscape in Siem Reap Cambodia, field and Phnom Kulen mountain. Siem Reap Cambodia countryside houses. Countryside landscape in Siem Reap Cambodia, dusty red orange roads.. Countryside landscape in Siem Reap Cambodia, local girl and buffalo in field. Motorbiking throught the Siem Reap countryside in Cambodia on a Honda Dream with Khmer Ways. Dusty red orange sand roads.

Sat atop my little Honda Dream, covered in dust and squinting at the sun baked road, was when I knew I’d fallen in love with Cambodia. I can’t even begin to tell you how beautiful the countryside here is. Rusty roads, lush green fields, mountains peeking up from every horizon and bright blue skies as far as you can see. We spent 8 hours on our bikes riding down dusty roads, exploring ruins and temples, and almost every moment of it took my breath away.

This was one of the highlights of our trip, and I’d even go as far as to say it’s been one of my favourite life experiences too. I’m doing a happy sigh right now just thinking about it.

We came across Khmer Ways and their moto tours a few days before we left and immediately set aside a day to get out and explore the other side of Siem Reap, away from the busy city. We emailed to book the day before and were picked up from our hotel by our guide for the day, Nee, who took us over to their office to pick up our bikes. After a quick practice in the back yard and alleyway next to the house, we were lead out onto the busy main road to make our way north. Driving in the crazy Cambodian traffic was definitely an experience, but soon we were away from it all and onto the quieter country roads winding out of town.

As we drove along, we passed by villages and local kids rushed to the side of the road to wave at us as we went past. Riding through such beauty, the wind in your hair and the sun beating down on your skin was such a strange mixture of exciting and relaxing, it was kind of blissful. I genuinely could have spent days out here on my bike. Nee took us into his own village a few hours in, where we stopped for a snack and some ice cold drinks before making our way further out towards the mountain.

After more riding we stopped by a huge restored ancient reservoir for BBQ lunch. We were welcomed into the open hut by two women and treated to such a feast! A huge platter of fresh fruit to share, rice, BBQ chicken for Nat and vegetables for me, plus lots of fizzy drinks to keep our energy up. I took a walk around the grounds and sat on the dock for a while, dipping my feet into the cool water and trying the take it all in.

After a little nap in the hut, we set off again to our next stop, the ruins of Koh Kyorng. This temple is completely in ruins, overgrown with trees and roots, with only a few doorways and windows still standing amid the rubble. Despite this, we saw offerings and piles of stacking stones scattered around, showing that it is still visited and holds some importance. After the busy main temples, it was nice to see this one with no one else around, it truly felt like we’d just stumbled upon something special.

Last of our stops was a beautiful, active temple surrounded by a moat. It was so peaceful here, with barely another person in sight. A young monk curiously followed us around, hiding around corners and peeking out at us, too shy to come over until his friend appeared and came over to talk to us. Before heading off back to town, we sat inside and had a quiet few moments, listening to the birds sing and the cloth decorations flutter in the cool breeze. It was the perfect end to such a magical day.

If you’re in Siem Reap, this is something you really need to make time to fit in. I couldn’t recommend Khmer Ways more, and Nee was such a wonderful guide and a lovely guy too, we had so much fun with him. He took us to see all of the best sights along the way, stopped to point out photo opportunities and made sure we were both well looked after with a seemingly never ending supply of water and drinks. I don’t think I’ve ever been so dirty as I was when we got back, but it was so worth it!

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Sokhalay Angkor Villa Resort

Sokhalay Angkor Villa Resort in Siem Reap Cambodia, tropical pool with flowers and bridge. Sokhalay Angkor Villa Resort in Siem Reap Cambodia, room and bed with towel swan. Sokhalay Angkor Villa Resort in Siem Reap Cambodia, room and bed. Sokhalay Angkor Villa Resort room in Siem Reap Cambodia. Sokhalay Angkor Villa Resort lounge area of room in Siem Reap Cambodia Sokhalay Angkor Villa Resort in Siem Reap Cambodia, view from balcony terrace. Sokhalay Angkor Villa Resort balcony terrace in Siem Reap Cambodia. Sokhalay Angkor Villa Resort in Siem Reap Cambodia, pathway through the trees. Sokhalay Angkor Villa Resort in Siem Reap Cambodia, pool area with palm trees and flowers. Sokhalay Angkor Villa Resort in Siem Reap Cambodia. Sokhalay Angkor Villa Resort in Siem Reap Cambodia. Sokhalay Angkor Villa Resort in Siem Reap Cambodia, tropical pool area with palm trees. Sokhalay Angkor Villa Resort in Siem Reap Cambodia, tropical trees and flowers. Sokhalay Angkor Villa Resort in Siem Reap Cambodia, path through the trees. Sokhalay Angkor Villa Resort in Siem Reap Cambodia. Sokhalay Angkor Villa Resort in Siem Reap Cambodia, pathway through the forest with tropical plants. Sokhalay Angkor Villa Resort in Siem Reap Cambodia, dining area next to pond with lily pads. Sokhalay Angkor Villa Resort in Siem Reap Cambodia, bridge over pond water with lily pads and flowers. Sokhalay Angkor Villa Resort in Siem Reap Cambodia, dining area next to pond water with lily pads.

After a hectic few days battling the crowds and enjoying city life in Bangkok, arriving at Sokhalay Angkor Villa Resort felt like another world. A tranquil little oasis surrounded by nature, it was exactly what our worn out bodies and minds needed. We arrived around mid-afternoon, and after sacrificing sleep to make the most of our time in Bangkok, we decided to spend the rest of the day relaxing in the sunshine and playing around in the pool to wind down properly.

Our room was so beautifully furnished and such a generous size. With gorgeous dark wood throughout, traditional textiles and a spacious open plan layout, it felt both luxurious and homely all at once. The beds here were also one of the most comfortable things I’ve ever slept on, in fact we both found ourselves reminiscing about how dreamy they were for pretty much the rest of our holiday! I don’t think I’ve ever slept so well. Our room was on the ground floor and its doors opened out onto a private terrace overlooking the pool, surrounded by greenery and tropical flowers. We couldn’t have asked for a prettier view to wake up to, especially in the early morning as the sunlight peeked through the trees and glinted off the pool.

We spent quite a few of our afternoons and evenings around the pool, even if only for an hour or so. It would have been a real shame not to take advantage of such a pretty area and it was pure bliss to jump in and cool off after spending the day getting hot, sticky and covered in dust at the temples and from walking through town.

Wandering along the the lush, tree lined pathways in the early morning light and again in the evenings as we made our way home under the lanterns and street lamps was such a wonderful way to start and finish each day. It’s rare for me not be rushing out of the hotel eager for the days adventure, but everywhere was so beautiful and relaxing here that it was hard not to slow down and take your time.

Breakfast was delicious, and there was a huge variety to choose from, all laid out buffet style in the main dining area. The staff here really deserve a special mention too, they were wonderful, especially Luy who worked in the restaurant at breakfast. He was one of the friendliest, kindest and most helpful people we have ever come across. He asked our names on our first day and said hello to us every morning. We so enjoyed talking to him about life in Cambodia and hearing his recommendations over breakfast.

One important thing to note, this resort is actually a number of separate hotels all in one place. We stayed at the Villa Resort, which is made up of the wooden villas surrounding the pool, but there are also 3 hotel blocks on site to choose from too. They all have access to the same facilities, including an indoor pool and spa inside the main hotel block. Despite this, it never felt crowded and the large grounds meant it often felt like we had the place all to ourselves.

Far enough away from the busy centre to be a relaxing and peaceful retreat, but close enough to all of the main attractions, it was the perfect base to explore Siem Reap from. The town was just a quick Tuk Tuk ride away and it took us barely 30 minutes to reach Angkor Wat. We had such a wonderful stay here, and I’ve already recommended it to almost everyone I know.

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