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Find Yourself on the Journey
Tune in for More from our Bucket Lists Series
The Bucket List series is meant, in part, to inspire you to visit these places during your lifetime. But, more than site specific inspiration, we hope it inspires you to make a bucket list and get started ticking off the places and experiences that will make your life more rewarding and your memoires more exciting. Bear and I will be writing separate bucket list blogs and travel guides for you, and you can learn more about bucket list creation, travel tips, and history on this website and our social media, so, please follow us and, as always take the time to “Find Yourself on the Journey.”
Why Angkor Wat Should Be on Your Bucket List
Far more than just one of the most amazing archaeological parks in the World, Siem Reap is one of a few places in Southeast Asia where you can be in the fast-paced city enjoying street food one minute and in the rural farmlands the next. Angkor Wat is affordable, appealing to most types of travelers, and unique culturally and in terms of biodiversity. The food and massages are amazing and inexpensive, the wetlands and ruins host a cornucopia of tropical plants and wildlife, and no matter where you find yourself, the locals are friendly.
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Affordability: While not the easiest or least expensive place to get to from North America, Cambodia, like most of Southeast Asian countries, have extremely affordable accommodations, food, and activities when compared to the popular destination in North America, Western Europe, and the South Pacific. In fact, no matter what the level of accommodations you desire, the prices in Cambodia will make it feasible to live that lifestyle for a fraction of what it would cost you in most places on Earth. I ate well, drank well, slept in a good hostel, hired a personal tuk tuk, and bought a 3 day pass to all of the temple complexes for less than $40 per day as a solo backpacker, and many do so for less than $20. Additionally, more upscale options are readily available and still much cheaper than you would think.
The temple were built during periods of time when the Khmer venerated Hindu gods and during their transitions to Buddhism, and the art and architecture resemble several other complexes found in Asia but on a scale and with a flair that is only rivaled in Bagan, Myanmar and Rajasthan, India.
The Khmer society who built Angkor was one of the most advanced civilizations of its time and carved out a living in a less than hospitable ecosystem due to significant advances in technology and art. Small farms still dot the landscape, making fresh produce readily available and extremely affordable for the inhabitants and visitors alike, but the carrying capacity of the land is much lower now than at the peak of Khmer Civilization when Angkor Wat was only eclipsed in population by Teotihuacan in Mexico. The crux of the ancient Khmer city was in the waterworks which receive less fanfare than the extravagantly decorated temple complexes. (End different?)
Art: If you love architecture and sculpture, Angkor rivals Italy and Greece and all of its masterpieces are on display year round. Most are also free of the unfortunate “modern art” defacement that is all to frequent these days due to heavy police present. However, nature is making a steady foe for these sites and, particularly for the art and architecture traveler, I would try to make it there as soon as possible to see the relief sculptures in great condition.
I will say the fare was almost exclusively barbequed or deep fried, but the freshness and flavor complexity was unbelievable. Fresh fish was my favorite. It was served whole, fried or grilled, and with several dipping sauces that were out of this world. In town I tried to concentrate on traditional rice dishes and soups that were refreshingly similar to those I enjoyed in Thailand, but with a more citrus forward flare. Then there were the more adventurous foods, the best of which was stir fried grubs, and the worst of which was dried jellyfish (only food I have spit out as an adult).
Spa Treatment and Yoga: While this is not a traditional part of my normal routine, it was a great opportunity and experience in Southeast Asia. Yoga just seems to fit with Asian temples in the background and it is a great excuse to stretch during long days of trekking through temples. Add in a massage at the end of the day for less than $10/hour and you will be refreshed and sleep well for your next early wake up to catch the sites without the crowds.
Social Media: Want to grow your social media following? Don’t we all. Go to Angkor Wat. The number of instagramable photo spots is unbelievable. From sunrises over Angkor Wat Temple, to banyan trees engulfing stone structures, to selfies with the heads of Bayon, to crazy food, Siem Reap and Angkor Wat will fill your social media with popular posts for years after you visit. Please follow us, as well. There are a bunch of images there from Angkor that you can like (Shameless plug).
Thank you for reading. Please leave any relevant questions or comments below, and we will be sure to answer them or thank you for the advice in a timely manner. Stay tuned for more on the 186 places on my bucket list, as well as travel guides for the hundreds of places we have been and have on our agenda.
Old Soles Travel, Find Yourself on the Journey!
Not the least interesting man in the World; Turtle is a Coast Guard Veteran, Maya archaeologist, museum curator, and world traveler. His passions for culture, history, preservation, and the welfare of people drives his desire to travel widely and share his travels for the inspiration of others, like yourself.