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Amazing Angkor Wat in Photos

35 photo tour of Cambodia’s Angkor Wat temples

Angkor Wat is one of the most impressive sites in the world, and was immediately a highlight of my southeast Asia trip. The temples are breathtaking!  While you need to visit them in Cambodia to appreciate it, below is a photo tour of the experience.

Angkor Wat at sunrise
Angkor Wat at sunrise. This brilliant photo is from one of my favorite travel photographers, Trey Ratcliff at Stuck in Customs

Angkor Wat is located in Siem Reap, in Cambodia. Along with Angkor Thom, Bayon, and Ta Prohm, Angkor might be the best two-day trip you can take in all of Asia.

Angkor Wat, in Siem Reap, Cambodia

Angkor Wat was built by the vanished Khmer empire. It was constructed during the reign of King Suryavarman II, who ruled from 1113 to at least 1145.

the walls of Angkor Wat are filled with details carvings, each depicting the rich history
the walls of Angkor Wat are filled with details carvings, each depicting the rich history
Angkor Wat in Cambodia
photo by JonJon Pascua
Buddhist monk explores Angkor Wat
Buddhist monk explores Angkor Wat
The Library at Angkor Wat.
The Library at Angkor Wat. Photo from one of my favorite travel photographers, Trey Ratcliff
There are more than 1,860 carved Apsara dancers in Angkor Wat.
There are more than 1,860 carved Apsara dancers in Angkor Wat.
Angkor Wat entrance - Angkor Wat at Visit50.com
“Angkor Wat” translates to “The city that is a temple.”
The Battle of Kurukshetra is the subject of this bas-relief at Angkor Wat.
The Battle of Kurukshetra is the subject of this bas-relief at Angkor Wat.
Count the arms...VERY powerful!
Count the arms…VERY powerful!

Scholars say the temples of Angkor Wat were built for funerary purposes, since its bas-reliefs are meant to be viewed anti-clockwise, a direction that was associated with death in the Khmer empire. This is Angkor’s only temple with tombs, despite the “Tomb Raider” movie being shot at nearby Ta Prohm, where there’s no tombs.

naga - the long causeway is decorated with mythical snake-like animals called naga
naga – the long causeway is decorated with mythical snake-like animals called naga
 this stone sculptures depicts the 8 arms of Vishnu, the powerful Hindu god, but with the head of Buddha. When Angkor Wat became a Buddhist temple, the head of Vishnu was replaced with the head of Buddha - Angkor Wat at Visit50.com
This stone sculpture depicts the 8 arms of Vishnu, the powerful Hindu god, but with the head of Buddha. When Angkor Wat became a Buddhist temple, the head of Vishnu was replaced with the head of Buddha.

“Angkor Wat” translates to “The city that is a temple.”

a devata graces the walls in Angkor Wat. Devata is another word for deva, the Hindu term for deity
a devata graces the walls in Angkor Wat. Devata is another word for deva, the Hindu term for deity
a youthful monk learns to read the future
a youthful monk learns to read the future
a monk at - Angkor Wat - Visit50.com
They say Angkor Wat took 30 years to build, which seems like a long time, until you see all the rich detail on nearly every wall

Angkor is located in Siem Reap, Cambodia. Siem Reap literally translates to ‘defeat of Siam,’ which is today’s Thailand. It’s a conflict that goes back centuries, between the Siamese and Khmer people.

Raided. They stole the heads!
Raided. They stole the heads!

 

"Angkor Wat" translates to The city that is a temple - Visit50.com
“Angkor Wat” translates to The city that is a temple
Cambodian wedding photo shoot
Cambodian wedding photo shoot. I saw wedding photo shoots both times I visited, so perhaps it’s a popular spot for wedding photos.
Anchor Wat was under repair when we went
under repair when we went – the green tarps typically aren’t there

reflection of the temple towers in Siem Reap, Cambodia - Visit50.com

The walls of Ankor Wat tell stories of war heroes and battles from their troubled past - Visit50.com
The temple walls tell stories of war heroes and battles from their troubled past
Ankor Wat and the reflecting pond
my first time in Cambodia and the reflecting pond

amazing Angkor Wat - temples in Cambodia
Photo from ITLWMT

temple - Visit50.com

"Library" - their true purpose remains unknown. Most likely they functioned broadly as religious shrines rather than strictly as repositories of manuscripts
“Library”. While its true purpose remains unknown, scholars say it most likely functioned broadly as a religious shrine, rather than strictly as repositories of manuscripts
devata at the entrance
devatas at the entrance
guarding the walls
guarding the walls of Angkor Wat
The walls at the entrance are 8 meters high and 3 km long, and flanked by a moat.
The walls at the entrance are 8 meters high and 3 km long, and flanked by a moat.
The "swimming pool" - looks good for being 1000 yrs old!
The “swimming pool” – looks good for being 1000 yrs old!
Cruciform gallery separating the courtyards
Cruciform gallery separating the courtyards
look closely at everything - from a distance this looked like a pile of rocks
look closely at everything – from a distance this looked like a pile of rocks
tower - Visit50.com
closeup of one of the towers at Angkor Wat

Halong Bay in Vietnam

Halong Bay’s limestone islands in the Gulf of Tonkin, Vietnam

HaLong Bay was visually one of the highlights of my Vietnam trip. Halong Bay is a UNESCO World Heritage Site featuring  1500-2000 islands and islets in various shapes and sizes, forming a spectacular seascape of limestone pillars.

Halong Bay, Vietnam
Halong Bay is so beautiful!

Hạ Long Bay (also written as Halong Bay or Ha Long Bay) is located in the Gulf of Tonkin, in Quáng Ninh province, in northeastern Vietnam.

Kayaking in Halong Bay, Vietnam
We went kayaking while surrounded by breathtaking views

Halong Bay 1024x768 - Visit50

Annika profile - nearly every moment of the Halong Bay Vietnam trip included a backdrop this striking
Annika profile – nearly every moment of the Halong Bay trip included a backdrop this striking

Ha Long Bay in Vietnam

Halong Bay limestone
this photo gives you a sense of the scale – by Ms Saigon

Jumping off the boat in Ha Long Bay, Vietnam
Jumping off the boat – so much fun! (more fun jumping photos of these to come)

Vietnam - Halong Bay - view from the boatSeveral of the islands are hollow, with enormous caves, other support floating villages of fishermen, who ply the shallow waters for 200 species of fish.

beautiful sunset in Vietnam - Visit50.comHalong Bay is a Unesco World Heritage Site

Sarah's view from the boat
Sarah’s view from the boat
here's a photo of me from just outside a cave
my view from just outside a cave
Annika and Lisa
my new friends Annika and Lisa – view from the boat

It’s often compared favorably to Guilin in China (photos coming soon!) and Krabi in Thailand – Lonely Planet called Ha Long Bay in Vietnam even more spectacular. While Halong Bay can be a bit of a “tourist trap,” it’s so beautiful that it’s worth the tradeoff.

Where is Halong Bay?  In Vietnam, 105 miles east of Hanoi, Vietnam’s largest city, and takes about 3 hours from Hanoi via bus.

floating school in floating village
This is a floating school in their floating village, Vietnam

Getting to Halong Bay:  Fly to Hanoi, Vietnam, and book a tour. This will be easily the best way to do it and comparatively it’ll be hassle free.  There’s a huge range in pricing and service – agents will promise the world and offer terrible service. Choosing a tour company.

Halong Bay, Vietnam panorama

Flying to Hanoi:  The closest airport is Noi Bai International Airport, 25 miles (40km) north of Hanoi. If you can’t get a direct flight, head to Bangkok, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur or Singapore, and then catch a connecting flight.

Halong Bay limestonethis photo gives you a sense of the scale of the limestone pillars – by Ms Saigon

Halong Bay, Vietnam limestone pillar
Halong Bay Vietnam from the lookout Photo credit

Follow the rest of my adventures at Visit50.com.  You can also follow Visit50 on InstagramVisit50 on Twitter and Visit50 on Facebook.  

Where to get more info:  wiki-travel and Lonely Planet have a wealth of info.

Going to Vietnam? I used a Lonely Planet book on my trip –



Orangutans in the Borneo wild

Bornean Orangutans and baby orangutans

I’m still buzzing from being just steps away from a couple of orangutans in the Sarawak region of Malaysia, western Borneo (semi-wild). Humans are close relatives, sharing more than 95% of DNA with humans, and you could tell. They’re rare and were fascinating to watch.

Orangutans are about four times stronger than humans, so this is the closest I’d want to be

I actually saw orang-utans twice earlier in my trip, but they were so far away that it just looked like shadowy ape-like figure in the tree with a slightly reddish/brown color. It was exciting at the time, but turned out to be just an appetizer for this experience.

Orangutan infants often cling to their mothers for the first 2-4 years

I went to Semenggoh Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre, a temporary home for various endangered wildlife of Sarawak, especially orang-utans that were rescued from captivity. There’s no bars or cages – the orangutans come and go as they please, and they help train them with basic skills that they would have learned with the goal of re-initroducing them into the wild.  Visitors can have a chance to see them at twice daily feeding times. Since I already saw that earlier in my trip, I’ll skip to the good part.

I was on my way out of the park when we spotted an orangutan right near us, and continuing to approach.  Wow!

I get that hungry too!

Quick facts on Orangutans:

  • You might think their name comes from the color of their fur (appears orange at times), but that’s not correct. The word orangutan is derived from two malay words:  ‘orang’ = ‘man’ (people), and ‘hutan’ meaning ‘forest’
  • Our closest relatives: The orangutan is a member of the Great Apes, which also includes humans, chimpanzees, bonobos, and gorillas (chimps are not monkeys).
  • The major difference between Great Apes and monkeys: apes do not have tails.
  • There’s 2 species of Orangutans: Sumatran (found in northern Sumatra, island of Indonesia) and Bornean, aka Pongo Pigmaeus
  • Population – there are estimated to be just 30-50,000 orangutans in the wild
  • Orangutans are big, the largest tree dwelling mammals in the world. The females are 75-110 lbs, 3’9-4’2. The males are typically twice that weight, at 110-220 lbs, 4’6-4’7 feet.
  • They spend nearly their entire day in the trees, 20-100 feet off the ground.
Orangutans are the largest tree dwelling mammal in the world
Orangutans are the largest tree dwelling mammal in the world
Orangutan arms are twice as long as their legs. Their outstretched arms can reach up to 7.5 feet!
Orangutan arms are twice as long as their legs. Their outstretched arms can reach up to 7.5 feet!

Eat, sleep, play: Their typical day revolves around eating, resting, and moving between eating and resting sites. Outstanding!  Day travel ranges from a few hundred feet, to as much as nearly two miles (half mile on average). They make a new nest every night.

Solitary Creatures: males primarily live alone and only come together with females for mating. Adult females live with their offspring when their young.

What have you been eating?? Their diet is 60% fruit. In addition they also eat some plants, flowers, bark, ants, caterpillars, fungi, spiders, termites, and more.

If you’ve been reading this blog, by now you’ve realized that I’m fascinated by wildlife. Outside of deers and raccoons in the woods behind my yard growing up, the only wild life I experienced was the Bronx Zoo (still one of the most impressive zoos I’ve been to!).  This was memorable!

I thought that might be the only time I was that close to anything so human-like in the wild, but little did I know that the very next day I discovered Probiscus Monkeys in the Borneo wild!

Other amazing baby wildlife from my trip included seeing baby elephants and baby monkeys in Borneo were adorable!  I also saw other types of animals up close – tarsiersmacaquesproboscis monkeyssharkspythons, camels, and more!