Ever wondered what happens on an Overland Tour during a cruise?
During this year’s hosted Holland America Grand World Voyage, our intrepid host Henk Barnhoorn lead Cruise Specialists guests on three overland tours: China, Taj Mahal, and Angkor Wat. One of the great things about having multiple hosts on board is they can each do different things with our guests, getting to know everyone throughout the voyage.
Today we’re sharing more about the fun they had on the Angkor Wat tour and what you might expect on one of our personalized, small group tours. But don’t miss our complete recap of the 2017 Holland America Grand World Voyage.
Day 1: Bakong
Day one our small group boarded a short flight from Ho Chi Minh City to Siem Reap. There we met our knowledgeable and interesting guide, Mr Leap, and made a stop at the hotel for lunch before beginning our historic tour.
After lunch, we boarded a motorcoach to Bakong Temple, the first of the large mountain temples in Angkor. It belongs to the Roluos group constructed at the end of the 9th century. Its lintels contain intricate, detailed and well preserved carvings of mythical creatures like Nagas (male serpents) and Makaras (half otter and half fish).It was a beautiful way to begin our explorations in this ancient city.
Day Two: Angkor Wat
This was the big day, so we fueled up with a great breakfast at the hotel and then made our way to Angkor Wat, one of the world’s most beautiful monuments.
Angkor’s most impressive, best known and well-preserved temple, Angkor Wat (which means temple city) is an object of pride for Cambodia. It even appears on the national flag.
The total temple area including the moat measures just over 1.2 square miles and is the biggest Hindu temple in Cambodia. The design is oriented to the west to symbolize the setting sun and death, which is depicted in the bas-reliefs, from left to right in the order of Hindu funereal ritual. And the ingenious plan of Angkor Wat only allows a view of all five towers from certain angles.After taking a walk throughout the Park, we headed off to lunch at Champey Restaurant in Old Town Siem Reap. A wonderful clean local restaurant with fantastic local food like fish soup, jasmine rice, fried chicken spring rolls and duck salad.
Next it was time to venture to Bayon Temple, known for its mysterious faces on the towers.
Unlike most temples, the Bayon is not surrounded by a moat and has been altered repeatedly over time, creating a complicated design that often makes it feel cramped or cluttered. Yet that only seems to add to the intrigue as we walked around admiring the towers.
After being deserted for many years, in 1910 they began clearing the monument and finally completed restoring the sanctuary and towers in the 1940’s.
The day wasn’t done yet, we still had three more amazing temples to see.
The Terrace of the Elephants, from the early 1300’s.
The Terrace of the Leper-King.
Ta Prohm, the Temple that shows very clearly, the destructive power of the luxuriant tropical vegetation.
The King would watch events on the parade grounds standing on the Elephant terrace, which he also used as an audience hall to listen to the complaints and problems of the citizens of Angkor. The terraces also contain many depictions of mythological animals and demons, alongside the many elephants.
Finally it was back to the Hotel for a wonderful sit down dinner, outside the Hotel at the Royal Gardens, catered by Grand Hotel D’Angkor (Raffles). Our tables were set up near a stage, which allowed us to enjoy a fantastic local show while we dined and passed around the wine.
Day 3: Clean Water Project
Day three was a special one because we all set out to complete a small volunteer project. It’s a wonderful way to feel like our travels allow us to give back to those who have been so kind to us.Cruise Specialists guests have donated two wells to ensure families in rural Siem Reap can enjoy clean, bacteria free water. Clean water is one of the most pressing issues for them. Where it’s provided communities are able to thrive thanks to better health, food security and coming together that results in education and jobs.
And now at last it was time to fly back and board the ship, where we couldn’t wait to regal those who didn’t join us with the sights we’d seen.
Learn more about our hosted 2018 & 2019 Grand World Voyages >>