Two days of templing!
Trip Start Sep 05, 2011
20Trip End Nov 23, 2011
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We spent two days visiting the Angkor Wat archeological park. It's the main reason that anybody goes to Siem Reap (the only reason for some) and probably the only reason that the city has developed into the place that it is today.
We were both a little unsure about how much we would enjoy this experience as we have seen, read and heard so much about it that in many ways you know exactly what to expect before you've even got there. Also, with neither of us being crazy about temples (or ruins in general except castles for Anna) there was a real possibility of us wandering around, necks craned upwards, thinking 'Ah, another huge temple.'
But we resolved to make the most of what would surely be our only opportunity to see one of the seven man made wonders of the world (Points on offer for naming the others!!!)
On the first day we did the ''small tour'' which is the tour you would do if you only had one day to spend there. This included Angkor Wat, (which our driver saved until the end as it is by far the largest and busiest temple) Angkor Thom, Bayon (the one with all the faces), and Ta Phrom (the Tomb Raider temple haha!).
All of these temples were incredible. They were built between the 8th and 13th Centuries by the Angkorian civilization who lived and worked there and you could imagine how magnificent they must have been in their prime. However, our ability to sit and take in the temples and their surrounds (which did have that slightly strange feel to them that very old, important buildings seem to have) was hampered significantly by the seemingly endless stream of noisy, inconsiderate tourists. Now the irony of us saying this as tourists is not lost on us but, and it is a big but, we tried our very hardest to take things in, in a quiet, unobtrusive manner. Unfortunately nobody else seemed interested in maintaining the natural peace. As a result we spent much of our time ducking and weaving around huge tour groups taking countless photos of each other in various poses in front of pretty much everything (all poses seemed to include a peace sign for good measure!).
Tourists aside, we both really enjoyed Ta Phrom (the tomb raider one) as it has been intentionally left in the same state that much of the temples were when European archaeologists found them. This meant that huge trees had taken root in the temple walls which made for a very impressive sight that even we managed to take a good photo of
The ''best'' was saved until last and we were both looking forward to seeing the famous Angkor Wat. The approach to the largest religious building in the world was as impressive as you'd expect. The wide stone bridge taking you across a huge man made moat did make you feel as though you were approaching something very special. The scaffolding and reconstruction work however, did not! Sadly our visit had coincided with a rather large restoration project on the front of the temple, meaning the classic photo showing all five towers was a bit of a non starter for us. Walking around the actual temple was interesting and the carvings and reliefs that cover many of the walls were certainly impressive. I think we were both more impressed by the sheer scale of the place rather than the interior which was a little dark and lacked the atmosphere of some of the smaller temples. Also by this point we were both cream crackered as we'd been yomping from one temple to the next for a good 5 hours!
The second day was much of the same and the small tour was definitely our favourite. However, there were far fewer tourists on the ''Grand tour'' which did make for a more enjoyable temple experience.
On reflection we feel so lucky to have had the opportunity to see the temples but we still think that those people who opt for the week long pass are nuts!
This signals the end of our time in Siem Reap. Up next Battambang - ''the heart of Cambodia's rice bowl!''
Hope you're all well and we send our love as always