We departed from the hotel at 5am and queued up to get our 1 day temple pass for $20. The q was fast-moving as it is not peak season, but I knew 5am was a late start so the sun was already up when we arrived at Angkor Wat. The sunlit bridge below:
Up-close shot of the library:
Sigh beautiful Angkor Wat profile:
There was a cute puppy at the entrance!
The hotel provided a breakfast set with pastries, water and an apple - how thoughtful! :)
We then drove to Ta Phrom to avoid the crowd at Angkor Wat:
We walked around the Bayon temple:
We walked to the Terrace of Elephants, see video below:
The Phimeanakas was closed for maintenance unfortunately so we could only view it from afar :(
Off through the jungle...
... to the Leper King Terrace
Then breakfast at Angkor Reach restaurant:
After a satisfying breakfast, we went to Ta Phrom, the famous venue where the Tomb Raider movie was filmed. The structure here was different; the bricks are whiter and there are more trees covering the original building.
I wanted to proceed to Angkor Wat but we were feeling sticky and uncomfortable with the weather so we we headed back to the hotel to freshen up and went to visit Tonle Sap lake. We had lunch at Kitchen Angkor Chey, recommended by our driver but the food and ambiance was so-so.
The journey to Tonle Sap was a long, dusty, 30 min drive where one can see the transition from small town to rural village and finally $15 per person for the boat ride. The river "cruise" is another 20 min before we reach the floating village. The "houses" literally float on the lake. There are even pig pens! Ugh.
Word of advice: do not be conned into buying expensive sacks of rice for the orphanages. Our river guide talked about how rice is important to the children and brought us to this floating shop where rice was sold for a ridiculous $50 per bag. The merchant even assured us that the balance will be distributed to the other villagers. When we went to the orphanage, there were so many bags of rice and I realized this was a scam. So tell the river guide from the start that you only want to go to the crocodile farm (which isn't much of an attraction IMO).
After the long ride back (when our friend steered the boat for a while!), we went back to the hotel and got a good rest before dinner at Koulen restaurant. We were entertained by live performance of traditional music and the ever-enchanting Apsara dance! :) Coincidentally I read an article on the plane about the history of Apsara; during Khmer reign, many dancers were killed so it is a miracle that the dance is making a comeback and I felt touched to be able to witness the performance :)
After dinner we went to Pub Street. Me & the bf had 1.5 hand and foot massage for $8, including shoulder and neck massage...what a treat! :D I also bought ointment to sooth itches due to mosquito bites; for $8 each, it was a good buy.
We headed back to the hotel for our last night in Siem Reap, and slept well. Read about the 3rd and final day here! :)