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The Beautiful Temples of Angkor

CAMBODIA | Tuesday, 13 January 2009 | Views [824] | Comments [3]

Today I went to visit the beautiful temples of Angkor just outside of the city of Siem Reap. I organised a tuk tuk through my guesthouse and it was only 12USD for the whole day.

I woke early and went down stairs for breakfast. My guesthouse is full of dogs, cats and at night chit-chat lizards cling to the wall chirping and eating mosquitos. As I ate my breakfast I had a cat in my lap and a dog at my feet.

At 9am I went outside to meet my driver. His name was Han, he had a bright smile and happy eyes. I climmed aboard my 'chariot' and off we went through the busy morning streets of Seam Riep and to the tree lined streets of Angkor.

My first stop was the very grand Angkor Wat; the best preserved temple in Angkor that was build by King Suryavarman II in the early 12th century. The entrance is a long brick causeway (called the 'Naga Causeway') that stretches over the river and leads through three gates to the main temple buildings. In the grounds and buildings I saw what remains of courtyards, swimming pools, statues and towers. It was amazing to think of the history of the place and what life would have been like for those living there during the rein of the Khmer Empire.

Next stop was the Bayon Temple, a richly decorated smaller temple which was built in the late 12th century as the official state temple of the Mahayana Buddhist King Jayavarman VII. On every stone tower that rises above the main terrace building there are smiling faces looking at you from every direction. These faces are meant to represent the king as the Bodhisattva Lokesvara (enlightened being of compassion).

After a good hour wandering around the beautiful grounds of Bayon, I jumped back into my tuk tuk and told Han to take me to one of the temples further east. We went to Ta Prohm Temple, one of the most famous Angkor temples due to it being a set location for the film Tomb Raider.

Huge silk cotton and strangler trees grandly tower overhead and many of them grow right on top of the ruins; their roots running along the moss covered stone and into the ground.

There were tourists everywhere and it took me quite a while to find an area to my self so I could sit and admire my surroundings. I got quite annoyed with some of the tourists because they were all being so loud, yelling and laughing to each other in such a peaceful place. Silence is never possible when you're visiting a tourist attraction. I wonder what it would be like to wander around the temples of Angkor completely alone.

There are two main groupings of temple buildings and the path that leads from east to west is sandy and lined with tall trees. I passed some mine victims playing traditional Khmer music and I bought one of their CD's for my Dad. It was inspiring to see people who had been through such suffering laughing and playing their music in the sun.

 We visited a few other temples in the afternoon. Each time Han waited for me outside and each time I came out I found him fast asleep in the back of the tuk tuk with the sun on his face. Not a bad way to make a buck! I asked him if he enjoyed being a tuk tuk driver and he said he did. I asked him if he had a family and he said he did. Han is a man of few words. :)

We left Angkor in the late afternoon sun and sped through the outskirts of town and back to the guesthouse. It's always a bit scary being in a tuk tuk when it's going fast. Through the city it's never so bad because the traffic is slow, but when you ride one through country streets or on an empty highway it tends to be quite terrifying.
Being that it's an open carriage with no doors, windows or seat belts...there is absolutely nothing to protect you from the cold hard tarmac beneath. Although it still makes me cringe from time to time I have somehow managed to get used to it, and these things don't bother me as much as I thought they would. Adapting to tuk tuks and crazy Asia traffic is something you must do if you don't want a holiday full of panic attacks and swear words.

I had a fantastic dinner after I got home from Angkor. I found an Indian Restaurant in town and had mixed lental dahl, rice and hot nann bread. Delicious!

 

Comments

1

Ah hon, it's so good hearing your tales and reliving the memories!! Man it was SO hot and humid when we were there - especially at Ta Prohm.

But I especially remember getting rip-roaring drunk: we got chatting to the French bartender at one bar, and he took us with him when he shut up the place to a gay bar that was absolutely BRILLIANT!! They loved us as aussies and we got free food and drinks..except we woke up and couldn't remember how we'd got home :/

  Leanne Jan 15, 2009 3:26 AM

2

THAT IS SO WEIRD I BOUGHT EXACTLY THE SAME CD!!!!!
=D

Is it Khmer wedding music? I love that CD hahaha

  Aallecks Jan 15, 2009 9:44 AM

3

No, its just traditional music I think...not wedding music. Although I'm sure it could be played at a wedding. Its lovely music. :)

  mazystar Jan 21, 2009 5:33 PM

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