This is Niel, as his jacket says.
He’s a very humble man, very sweet and patient. Felt like I was going traveling with a kindly grandfather/uncle actually. I felt very safe while he was driving me around, even to the more remote temples. You’ll see more photos of him over the next few days.
My room. Double bed because the single room was booked for the week.
Room was very nice and clean, and Rosy Guesthouse had tons of free DVDs and books that you can borrow if you were bored. They even have a dressing table for you to do your makeup. So I showered and unpacked for a while, before going to the main Siem Reap town area, which was actually pretty near.
Pub Street, which is where all the bars, pubs and restaurants are.
Cambodians doing their shopping at the Old Market.
My dinner for the night. Tried the Cambodian national dish – the fish amok. Which is essentially like a milder form of curry.
Over the course of the next few days I would learn that Cambodian cuisine is not inherently spicy. They have this pepper condiment that they serve at almost every single meal, but Cambodian is more similar to Chinese cuisine than Thai, in that their dishes aren’t spicy or hot by nature.
There are tons of solo travelers in Cambodia. At the restaurant I was eating in, there were at least 4 lone travelers who came in, had their dinner, sat for a while, and left. So I didn’t feel conspicuous or left out.
Walked for a while more and went to Blue Pumpkin, which is famous for their amazing tarts and bread and other baked goods. Bought madeleines and a brioche to try.
Went back to guesthouse to sleep because I would be waking up at dawn the next day.
Temples, temples and a fair bit of being klutzy.
Left the guesthouse at 5am to see the sunrise! It was so cold that Cambodians were burning little bonfires by their huts to keep warm. Being unprepared, I wore only jeans and a t-shirt. Brr.
I must confess something dumb. I took so many photos in the tuktuk that by the time I reached Angkor Wat my battery was kind of dying and I had a full day of temple exploring to go (IN MY DEFENSE, I DIDN’T KNOW MY BATTERY WAS GOING TO DIE SO FAST!).
So I was in panic mode. I had to ‘ration’ my shots of the temples so that I can have photos of every single one I visited. So I had like tons of dark, blurry photos like that above but when it came to the temples it was all fleetingly sparse. 0_o
Gorgeous view prior to Angkor Wat
Like what every other visitor says… the first time you see Angkor Wat you would be awed by the sheer scale of the temple. I went during the break of dawn so I must say… seeing it half in darkness, half in light was mystical. It was beautiful. Follow me and say ommm now.
The long walk towards the main Angkor Wat area.
My ommm-at-peace-with-da-world mood was spoilt though, by a scrupulous Cambodian dude who scammed me of $20USD. He saw me walking past him, so he thrust some lit joss sticks at me. I thought it was part of the Angkor Wat experience so I took it. Then he led me to this side corridor where there was a statue of a Buddha, and asked me to pray several times and stuff. Then after that? Donate $20USD for the monks.
afdjasfasdafkjfa. Ok no longer feeling one with the world and mother nature.
A closer look at the icon.
Here’s when I did something stupid. I saw, from a distance away, that the main Angkor Wat building seemed to be under construction, since there were support beams outside and all. I peered and squinted and it didn’t seem to have anything behind….. so I left Angkor Wat.
I LEFT ANGKOR WAT AFTER BARELY 15 MINUTES! *Facepalm to the max.
And I continued on my merry, ignorant way. This is the entrance to Angkor Thom, which is way way bigger than Ankor Wat (but because it’s so big, you don’t realise you are in a temple complex at all).
My super short stay in Angkor Wat surprised my driver, but he took me to the next stop, which is the Bayon.
Gonna quote from Wikipedia, because this is my personal blog and I do not need to cite scholarly articles, biatch:
The Bayon (Khmer: ប្រាសាទបាយ័ន, Prasat Bayon) is a well-known and richly decorated Khmer temple at Angkor in Cambodia. Built in the late 12th century or early 13th century as the official state temple of the Mahayana Buddhist King Jayavarman VII, the Bayon stands at the centre of Jayavarman’s capital, Angkor Thom.
You are now entering prehistoric times.
This is my second favorite temple after Beng Melea (another entry). It was so imposing and eerie, with the giant stone faces and silent, dark corridors.
Because I left Angkor Wat even before the dawn spectacle, I was ahead of the tourist crowds. I had the Bayon almost entirely to myself, and it was awesome. And it was so quiet I got a bit disconcerted. Was actually relieved to see that there was a few other tourists around at the top of the temple.
Terrace of the Elephants. Visually not very exciting though.
I had brought along my madeleines in case I got hungry while exploring the temples. When I saw the two dogs, I gave them my food and they followed me for a while. Heh.
Next was Preah Khan:
Preah Khan (Khmer: ប្រាសាទព្រះខ័ន), sometimes transliterated as Prah Khan, is a temple at Angkor, Cambodia, built in the 12th century for King Jayavarman VII. It is located northeast of Angkor Thom and just west of the Jayatataka baray, with which it was associated. It was the centre of a substantial organisation, with almost 100,000 officials and servants.
Snake slithering outside Preah Khan!
I don’t have an external shot of Preah Khan because by then I was really worried that my camera was going to die suddenly, and I wanted to save my camera for Ta Phrom.
Endless corridors after corridors. You walk through this corridor, and turn to your right….
Then you see that there’s another endless connection of hallways here.
Preah Khan is gigantic. The photos I took did not do the place justice. It was huge and sprawling and so very majestic.
The Baphuon (Khmer: ប្រាសាទបាពួន) is a temple at Angkor, Cambodia. It is located in Angkor Thom, northwest of the Bayon. Built in the mid-11th century, it is a three-tiered temple mountain built as the state temple of Udayadityavarman II dedicated to the Hindu God Shiva.
Baphuon is a very newly restored temple. Prior to its restoration it looked like this:
Hahaha. Ok I don’t know how it looks like before restoration but news reports say it was like fitting a giant jigsaw together. So I would imagine it was pretty tough.
I tried to wait a long time for the staircase to be free of people, but there were simply too many tourists there. Too bad for you purple auntie.
Really steep stairs as you can see!
Ta Prohm (Khmer: ប្រាសាទតាព្រហ្ម) is the modern name of a temple at Angkor, Siem Reap Province, Cambodia, built in the Bayon style largely in the late 12th and early 13th centuries and originally called Rajavihara (in Khmer: រាជវិហារ).
Ta Phrom is the famous Tomb Raider temple that is supposedly the epitome of how Cambodian temples should be like – wild, overgrown, with trees and ruins intertwined together.
It is very impressive but there are so many tourists that you no longer get the whole ‘I-just-discovered-this-temple-deep-in-the-jungle’ feel. Which is very sad. Lucky then, that I went to Beng Melea… which is the true undiscovered jungle temple gem.
Massive trees and roots over every inch of the temple. Love it.
A quiet corner.
How many centuries of isolation must it have taken for the roots to grow so massively?
A hidden part of the temple that was not accessible to the public.
Look at the beautifully rampant tree roots, spreading all over the temple.
Banteay Kdei (Khmer: ប្រាសាទបន្ទាយក្តី, Prasat Banteay Kdei), meaning “A Citadel of Chambers”, also known as “Citadel of Monks’ cells”, is a Buddhist temple in Angkor, Cambodia.
A collapsing corridor, supported by wooden beams.
Endless corridors, and a Buddha statue in the middle.
Srah Srang (Khmer: ស្រះស្រង់) is a baray at Angkor, Cambodia, located south of the East Baray and east of Banteay Kdei.
Srah Srang is just across the road from Banteay Kdei. It’s nothing much.. just a platform. But as you can see from the photo, it faces a beautiful body of water which I would imagine would look very beautiful during sunset.
Angkor Wat (Khmer: អង្គរវត្ត) is a temple complex at Angkor, Cambodia, built for the king Suryavarman II in the early 12th century as his state temple and capital city. As the best-preserved temple at the site, it is the only one to have remained a significant religious centre since its foundation – first Hindu, dedicated to the god Vishnu, then Buddhist. It is the world’s largest religious building.
So after I left Angkor Wat at dawn and went to all the other temples, I remembered thinking to myself that what I saw couldn’t be the extent of Angkor Wat after all. It’s supposed to be huge! And yet I only went through one set of temple corridors.
So I decided that since I still had time, I shall return to Angkor Wat and walk to the supposedly under restoration part. And I was so glad I did, because if not I would have missed out these:
See the hot air balloon in the distance? That’s the boundary of Angkor Wat.
“Soldiers! I stand before you in a time of peril! Fight for our empire or it shall be vanquished forever!”
I am dwarfed and I am insignificant.
Really really steep stairs. To climb up the top level, you have to have your knees and bare arms covered (kinda the same rule as Thailand when visiting the royal palace). So if you want to really explore the whole of Angkor Wat, remember to cover up. 🙂
Am so glad I went back. After all the temple exploring, I was exhausted to the bone so I was relieved when Niel said that was the last temple of the day. Went back to Rosy Guesthouse and had some tea break.
Then I went back to my room and knocked out until about 6pm.