Angkor Wow

Trip Start Mar 14, 2006
Trip End Mar 15, 2007

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Flag of Cambodia  ,
Thursday, September 28, 2006

There must be something special about the temples of Angkor for them to be able to get me up at 4am to go see the sunrise over them.

Waiting for me was my moto guide for the day called 'Me' but if was too early in the morning to crack any jokes about the obvious.

After paying the hefty entrance fee (lining the pockets of some Vietnamese company no less) for a one day pass, ignoring all the guide books advice about needing more than one day, we arrived at the entrance to Angkor Wat or at least I think we did since it was still too dark to tell where we where.

Standing in front of Angkor Wat I knew it was there, probably more due to the hoards of other people waiting around too, but could still only just make out the faint silhouette of it's towers against the dim morning light.

I had a lot of expectations of Angkor Wat having wanted to see it for a long time and standing there waiting for it to be revealed my mind kept flashing back to all those who had said they had been disappointed by it and that it was 'nothing that special' hoping that would not be the case for me even after already having more than my fill of temples so far.

As the sun slowly rose behind showing off the outline of the temple with it becoming beautifully reflected in the appropriately placed reflecting pools lying in front of it I was glad I was not one of those people.

From here I joined 'Me' again to drive over to my second most anticipated temples here, mainly because it was the only other one I'd heard of, Bayon. The Bayon is decorated with 216 faces of Avalokitshvara (I'll admit I had to look that one up) along with 12000 meters of bas-refliefs (that too) and around 11000 figures (yup) all of which add up to another impressive sight.

Nearby I checked out the Terrace of Elephants and Terrace of the Leper King before taking a peak at Baphum which is still under restoration.

Next on the hit list was Ta Keo a large pyramid shaped temple more impressive as of it's size than any elaborate carvings due to it having none.

From here we explored the ruins of Ta Prohm which really are just ruins due to it being left largely untouched complete with the surrounding jungle moving in and taking up residence amongst the aged stonework. It may also be the most viewed temple if not visited with the Tomb Raider film having been filmed here which given it's look and atmosphere is not hard to see why.

With a quick stop at Banteay Kdei I then headed over to the opposite lake where there were plenty of sellers clustered many of them kids all selling everything from t-shirts to bottle water a the standard temple price of $1. One kid tried to sell me 20 bracelets for $1 and another 2 wooden flutes for the same price not that I could have made much musical use of one.

Circling back to Angkor Wat to explore it in the daylight I'll admit that it did appear a little less impressive when not bathed in the morning sunrise but only a little. I was glad though to be able to explore it with hardly anyone else around at all like most of the temples today which I like to think was due to the well thought out and meticulously pre-arranged planning to arrive at each temple at precisely the correct time.

Or maybe just sheer luck.
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