The Temples of Angkor
11.04.2008 - 15.04.2008 38 °C
Up early to go on our temple tour – First stop is Angkor Thom – Bayon. I don’t know why I had expected it to be quiet- but it wasn’t there were people everywhere – kind of felt similar to going to a theme park. Bayon was amazing though – so many serene faces (54 towers and 216 faces) and the detail of all the carvings was amazing. We wondered how many carvers must have been involved in the project – if you could complete one face it was probably a great life achievement. I can’t believe they still let people climb all over them and touch everything – great to see everything up close but kind of feels wrong to be walking over structures that are sooo old. Older than anything we have ever seen before so we are struggling to grasp it. This would have to be the highlight of our day.
Onto Baphuon, which was mostly closed off to tourists as they are doing conservation work. There are heaps of children everywhere selling (postcards, books, bracelets, musical instruments, fans). They follow you trying to convience you to buy and then they do this heartbreaking little groan – why you no buy? We are going to have to toughen up or we will have even bigger packs than we already have.
Then over to Phimeanakas with its ridiculously steep steps. Luckily there is a wooden ladder/stairway that has been added so we can get up – still very steep and scary for Shaz. The temperature is 38oC!!!
Over to walk along the Terrace of the Elephants and it is amazing to think that elephants actually used to walk along here with soldiers on their backs high enough to keep away from the tigers!! We chill out for a bit on the side under a tree and watch all the activity – so many motos, buses and cars go driving by taking tourists back and forth. Little markets and stalls are set up along the road its all go and sooo hot. The wall is covered with carvings of elephants and soldiers on everything from snakes to crabs!
That is the end of Angkor Thom – we are very impressed!! Onto a temple called Ta Keo where the steps were even steeper than at Phimeanakas! And there were a few tourists who had managed to get up but were struggling to get down again as the width of the steps is about 20cm. Between the heat and the steps we decided to sit in the shade and just admire it from ground level.
Next is Ta Prohm (jungle temple). What an amazing site – huge trees growing on and through the ruins. Gaz is pretty excited that Angelina Jolie had walked in this very spot (Tomb Raider movie was shot here) – I think he thinks that means he has basically meet her
Last stop Angkor Wat – we have timed this well as due to the midday heat not many others are dumb enough to be here and are all in town having lunch – don’t know how as it is way to hot to eat. As it is the Cambodian new years there are heaps of locals visiting the Wat which is pretty cool. They seem to laugh at us a lot – we cant figure out why so laugh and smile with them…. Quite a maze of a building it must of taken some serious planning. This is the newest (constructed mid 12th century) of the Wats but it is still amazing the amount of detail – every wall, roof, piller is carved I can’t imagine how much work is involved. While we are at the top of Angkor Wat (well as far up as we are allowed to go) the loudest thunder we have ever heard rolls in. Really sounds like someone has offended the gods - we hope it wasnt us! We start our way down and the rain starts as we get to the West Gate and onto our Tuk Tuk. But this didn’t mean we were safe from the rain – the skys open up and it bucketed down and we were saturated in seconds – loved every second of it – we were finally cooling down.
Very tired from our tour so sign up for a hour long foot massage – heaven!