Note: The Angkor archaeological park is a giant area, and it is impossible at this age for me to remember all the details (yeah, I am blaming the 30’s for everything nowadays). Hence, this post is not very descriptive, rather more of a photo-story.
The sunrise was upon us. And the Tuk Tuk driver couldn’t have found a better place to drop us off. Right in front of the magnificient Angkor Wat temple complex!
We had spent the last night getting knackered in the party streets of Siem Reap’s Club Street, and walked in tripping, into our hostel. The mad monkey hostel is as mad as the name suggests, but at 1 midnight, the madness had subsided and all the revelers had been put to sleep. So, we had slept too.
To Read: Going to Phnom Penh, and not Siem Reap. Well, you can also check out my photos from the streets of Phnom Penh.
Only to wake up at 5 AM, as we had planned. If we were going to explore the grandest temple complex ever built, a few hours of sleep was a worthy sacrifice.
Obviously, we were not the only people who planned on this, as the Tuk Tuks lined up outside our hostel clearly proclaimed. We found 2 tuk-tuks (we were 6!) and squeezed in.
Note: We first had to buy the passes for the Angkor area, which are funnily sold near the Angkor Panorama museum, about 9 KM away from the Angkor wat itself! If the Tuk Tuk driver had not told us, we have never even known this.
I must have dozed off a little bit on the way to the temple, because I was woken up by the majestic sight of the sun just having risen behind the temple, as we looked at awe at the 190 m wide moat that helped preserved the Angkor Wat from being completely encroached by the jungle. And of course, the monks who had woken up early and were heading into the temple complex.
And that – for us – signaled the beginning of a long day of walking.
At the Angkor Wat
After grabbing a cup of coffee outside the moat, we entered the Angkor archaeological area, through the west entrance: straight away being greeted by the Angkor Wat Gateway. From this point on, we stayed together as a group, because the place was literally a giant maze! A multitude of corridors stretched every way, and we often found ourselves coming back to the same point we started from. Not once, but multiple times.
One of these points was the central courtyard, surrounded by 5 towers – each representing a peak of Mt. Meru, the home of the gods. And in most of the corridors of the courtyard, we ran into small groups of kiddie monks. These guys were the cutest thing that I have come across. They even made faces!
Angkor Thom and Bayon
After spending the first half of the day at the Angkor Wat, we decided it was time to move on to the rest of Angkor Archaeological area. That meant, Angkor Thom, which was a good 2 km away. Luckily, there were bicycles available for rent at the Angkor wat itself. We rented a bicycle each and cycled towards the Angkor Thom. Of course, this meant cycling back to the west entrance of Angkor wat, and towards the South gate of the Angkor Thom.
Unlike Angkor wat, which was built as a temple complex, Angkor Thom was an entire city. (which probably explains the translation of Angkor Thom: “Great city”). It was the last capital city of the Khmer empire. And although it is not designed as a temple complex like Angkor Wat, it did have one spectacular temple in the middle: The bayon. Most probably best remembered for the scenes from ‘Lara Croft: Tomb raider’, when Lara Croft visits the Angkor thom to search for some historic relic.
The most captivating aspect of the Bayon temple has got to be the “face towers”, which have smiling faces on them. It was a little creepy at first, but 5 minutes in the place, and we got used to all those faces.
Finishing the day at Ta prohm and the River
We rounded off the day by visiting the Ta Prohm temples, which was slightly outside the Angkor Thom. But we had to! I mean, even Angelina Jolie was there, right?
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