A Day in the Ruins of Angkor

This mini-documentary deals with our trip during the Khmer New Year to the ruins of Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom – the last two capitals of the great Monument Building Period of the Khmer Empire. Although it would eventually become a Buddhist realm, the civilization of the Khmer during the start of this period was largely Hindu. Even today, Cambodia’s Theravada Buddhism is a mix of Hindu, animistic and Buddhist rituals and concepts. They certainly don’t consider themselves Hindu, but Cambodians have long-since fused these belief systems into their culture.

The Khmer people are one of the older ethnic groups in the region, much older than the empire they founded. Not unlike other ethnic groups in Southeast Asia they were heavily influenced by Indian culture, in particular the Tamil influence of the Chola Dynasty that flourished in eastern and southeastern India. So these early Cambodians adopted Hinduism as their religion long before they built Angkor Wat.

Our excursion to these vast ruins was conducted on the second day of the Khmer New Year celebration – a celebration that lasts for three days. These former capitals of the Khmer Empire are too extensive to be fully covered in a single day. However, we were able to go to the three most iconic locations and show them to you. Angkor Wat lies about 7km from the town of Siem Reap and Angkor Thom is roughly 3 kilometers from Angkor Wat.

It was really a lot of fun putting this together, though it was hard work. As with our previous mini-doc on the first Angkorian capital (Hariharalaya), it was a long and very hot day. This made filming and moving about even more difficult, but it was truly a great experience. We are very happy to share these monumental wonders of architecture and engineering with all of you!

For more information on these incredible ruins, don’t forget to read our posts on Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom.

Tuk tuk anyone?

Going by different names in different regions of this beautiful world, tuk tuks (also spelled tuk-tuk with hyphen) are one of the more common forms of public transportation you will find. Anyone who has been to places such as Cambodia, India or Thailand (among other countries) are probably very familiar with the tuk tuk.

It really is a novel & fun way to travel about, but there are scams & drivers (who for whatever reason) are not the nicest people you will find. In one instance, we witnessed a Chinese tourist pay a driver $35 (USD) for a fare that should have been about two or three dollars. I decided to engage in a social experiment & asked him for a ride. The second he realized I was a local ex-pat as opposed to a clueless tourist, he told me to look for someone else. Most tuk tuk drivers who work for a hotel or guesthouse, only receive a little bit of the money you are paying them.

Nevertheless, there are a number of tuk tuk drivers that are really lovely people – just trying to do the right thing. In this short video, we present our good friend Souy – a truly kind, energetic & responsible tuk-tuk driver. He is by no means the only one out there, but if your trip to Siem Reap is just a few days or weeks long, it would be difficult to get a good idea of where to find a driver who sees people and not dollar bills.