Angkor day 4: The Grand Tour

Trip Start Mar 18, 2009
Trip End Jan 12, 2010

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Thursday, July 2, 2009

Following yesterday's race to Angkor Wat for the sunrise, we left even earlier and arrived in the temple at 5am, as we cycled in the darkness with just our dynamo powered lights little bugs splattered into us – we are again at one with nature !

The sunrise was a little disappointing again, there was a blanket of clouds and the sun didn't really break through – bad light for photos, but we couldn't resist a sneak peak at Angkor Wat for an hour – but we've planned to dedicate the whole of tomorrow to Angkor Wat, so Paul will tell you about that tomorrow :)

Even though we were very tired, we summoned the strength to cycle north to Ta Som (late 12th Century) – Bayon style temple, with faces on the towers. It had a lovely atmosphere, a bit tumble down and overtaken by the jungle, the east gate was covered by a strangler fig tree. It was very peaceful and we were pleased we'd made the effort to get there.

We cycled back along the road through the forest to Neak Pean – a small temple on an island, surrounded by 4 other ponds – but there wasn't any water so it wasn't as impressive. Each of the outside ponds had a little temple with a statue with a water-spout. Worshipers pour water into a channel behind the statues head and water comes pouring out – a bit like the lingas and yonis we've seen in temples.

We cycled back into Angkor Thom and got a sneak preview of the Terrace of Elephants and onto Ta Keo (late 10th Century) – a huge temple that was never finished. It's a mountain temple, like East Mebon and Pre Rup that we saw yesterday. We climbed all the way to the top, munching on banana chips to replace all the calories we're using up, and you can see in the photos – it's a bit block-like. We're not sure why it wasn't finished, but it would have been amazing if it was complete.

We carefully climbed down the almost vertical steps and cycled back towards Angkor Thom, stopping at Spean Thma – an old bridge completely covered by trees and then onto Thommanon – which looks like a cathedral, pretty, with carvings of dancers on the walls but small. Then we crossed the road to Chao Say Tevoda which once looked like Thommanon but was more ruined until a recent re-build. We think it would have looked better as a ruin rather than the tacky addition of new concrete block to make it look as it used to.

After this punishing morning of cycling and climbing up and over ruins we cycled straight into Siem Reap town and went to the Blue Pumpkin again for lunch. This time we sat upstairs on big sofas with little tray tables over our stretched out legs – just what we needed after all that exercise. Then Paul tipped half his banana milkshake into his lap and I nearly cried laughing at his attempts to subtly mop it up. Thankfully back outside in the 33 degree heat it soon dried ;o)

Another stop to re-stock on banana chips, water and pot noodles and we returned to the hotel for a well-earned rest ! The Golden Mango Inn is proving to be a good choice – quiet, with fast Internet and lots of TV channels. This holiday is hard work – but it's paying off!
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