I just went to see Angkor Wat Exhibition in Asian Civilizations Museum (my husband most favourite museum in Singapore) with my 6-years-old C and my husband M last weekend. We also joined the one hour guided tour. The Asian Civilisations Museum presents this exhibition in major collaboration with the Guimet Museum in Paris. It's interesting to see the sculptures, drawings, photographs, and to hear the story behind them.
This reminded me of my visit to Angkor Wat ten years ago with two friends.
The three of us flew to Phnom Penh, the capital and most populous city in Cambodia. Phnom Penh has been the national capital since French colonization of Cambodia. I remember riding the Tuk Tuk that took us around the city square - Royal Palace (a complex of buildings which serves as the royal residence of the king of Cambodia), Silver Pagoda (or known as Wat Preah Keo Morakot, "Temple of the Emerald-Crystal Buddha", located on the south side of the Royal Palace), and the surroundings.
I did not take many photos this time. I think it's because I was puzzled and it's like a new world to me. There're quite a few little children on the street, looked poor and some of them were handicapped. They came to me asking for money even while I sat down having my meal inside a restaurant. The whole things just made me feel quite sad. It's just gloomy for me (although the sun shone very brightly - it was one hot day in early April).
When I was in university, a friend of mine suggested a book about Cambodia titled A Cambodian Odyssey by Haing Ngor and Roger Warner. It's about the story of the destruction of Cambodia by the Khmer Rouge in The Killing Fields, as told by Dr. Haing Somnang Ngor himself. It was the most horrifying book I've ever read. I skipped quite a few chapters. So when I was in Phnom Penh, I and my travel companion took a Tuk tuk ride to this one of the Killing Fields. No pictures I took. It's quite depressing and sad. May they all rest in peace.
From Phnom Penh, we took a bus to Siem Reap, a popular resort town and a gateway to the Angkor region. It is located around 320 km north-west of Phnom Penh. The bus ride took about 5-6 hours. Siem Reap was very different from Phnom Penh. Here, I felt better and relieved. It looked a bit like Little Paris.
We went to Angkor Wat, a temple complex and the largest religious monument in the world. It was originally constructed as a Hindu temple dedicated to the god Vishnu for the Khmer Empire, gradually transforming into a Buddhist temple towards the end of the 12th century. It was such a huge area and it was an extremely hot day - I was exhausted. The middle photo below is the location where Angelina Jolie was filmed in Tomb Raider (2001).
Will I come back to Siem Reap and Angkor Wat? Maybe. But it will be highly unlikely to come back to Phnom Penh. Not with young kids.