Angkor day 6 – Elephants and Leper Kings
Trip Start Mar 18, 2009
134Trip End Jan 12, 2010
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Our first stop on our revised plan was Phimeanakas, the Royal Palace. It was used from the 10th to 16th Centuries – the most used temple complex, and so it was a bit of a jumble of styles. The main temple was extremely steep and a bit of a ruin. To the North there was a large pond with beautifully carved walls – with sea creatures and princes and princesses. The guidebook says “one can imagine the king installing himself to watch aquatic sports”.
We cycled on north out of Angkor Thom to Preah Khan – a huge version of the Tomb Raider temple Ta Prohm. We walked around this ruined complex for a good hour, enjoying the peaceful forest setting. There were some pretty apsara carvings in the dancers hall and a couple of temples dedicated to shiva and Vishnu as well as some great shots of silk-cotton trees growing out of the walls. It was a real gem of a temple, one of the big king Jayavarman VII's largest works, and it used to be a Buddhist University.
The sun was starting to push its way through the clouds so we cycled back into Angkor Thom and spent a while admiring the Leper King Terrace, and the secret carved passage inside, where the camera batteries ran out just as Paul and I were perching on rocks above the flooded walkway. The Leper King Terrace is named after a statue found on top of the terrace covered in lichen. There were some fantastic carvings of 9 headed Naga snakes, but also a few begging children. It's Saturday so I can't use my “why aren't you in school” line.
Next was the amazing Elephant Terrace, a long procession of carved elephants pulling lotus flowers from the ground. Really beautiful.
We stopped at Bayon on the way back to get some photos now that the sun was out – but they will have to wait until tomorrow – our last day exploring the temples of Angkor and we're saving the best til last !
After a quick pit-stop at the Blue Pumpkin to refuel (milkshakes and ice cream) we cycled into Siem Reap and had Mexican food and beers for a late lunch and spent the rest of the day recovering with some Asahi beer in the cool of our room.
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