I definitely left a little piece of my heart in Siem Reap.
- Kahleel Hamilton
In my mind, Cambodia has long been synonymous with lush jungles and orange-robed monks, moving mysteriously through ancient temples. I've dreamt of visiting this place long before travel seemed like a possibility for me.
With just 55 hours to explore the city of Siem Reap, I wanted to cram every minute with unforgettable moments.
Although my goal was to experience as much of Siem Reap as possible, I also wanted the trip to have a measure of flexibility to do whatever I wanted, or in some cases, didn't want.
I arrived in the city mid-afternoon. My Airbnb host was awesome and had a tuk-tuk waiting for me at the airport. It's great when I don't have to worry about finding my way around a new city. That takes a lot of the anxiety away.
My first stop was to buy a one-day pass for the temples. If you purchase the ticket after 3 pm, you can use it that same evening to see a temple of your choice for a sunset viewing, and it's valid for the next full day. My driver took me to Phnom Bakheng, which was the optimal choice because it was a 25-minute trek uphill to get to the actual temple. This temple is best visited after sundown because otherwise, the humidity and heat can be intolerable. Once there though, the view is stunning — and it's worth it.
My second day was spent traversing the Angkor area and seeing the temples there. Despite the intense heat and humidity, I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. To walk amidst ruins that have been around since the 9th century AD is indescribable. There were moments when I was alone in the temples and felt like I was in a different time altogether.
It was surreal to finally see Angkor Wat in real life after seeing it in so many pictures. And the best part of the experience was seeing the monks offering blessings to visitors.
I definitely left a little piece of my heart in Siem Reap. It feels amazing to finally be able to check it off my bucket list.