Majestic Angkor Wat

Trip Start Sep 24, 2009
Trip End Apr 30, 2010

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Flag of Cambodia  , Siĕm Réab,
Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Today, we decided to tackle the main Angkor Wat temple. Rather than face the crowds at sunrise, we arrived around 7am, and found that we were able to wander around for a few hours in relative peace.  Until the tour buses full of Chinese, Taiwanese, etc. start to show up at around 9am, that is!    I think we spent close to 3 hours there in the end.  You can usually find some nice quiet spots around the back.

So what is Angkor Wat?  It was a temple built back in the 1100's, and took about 30 years to build, and was dedicated to the Hindu God, Vishnu.  It is approx. 1.5km sq, and is surrounded by a moat that is 200m wide.  I think it’s an amazing feat to think of the engineering involved to build it!  (That applies to all the temples, of course, not just Angkor Wat).  There is a gallery or corridor that side has a bas relief running along the wall that has intricate carvings depicting various stories from Hindu epics.  It really is amazing to walk around.

After Angkor Wat, our tuk-tuk driver took us further field to Banteay Srei (the citadel of women), which is about 15km further out.  It was a nice drive through local villages and the countryside.  This temple is particularly lovely as it has been built out of rose-coloured sandstone, has beautiful and intricate carvings and is believed to have been designed and built by women.   This was built back in the 900’s – absolutely mind-blowing to think of how old that is!   When the French discovered in 1914, it was overgrown with jungle which was subsequently cleared away.

Near Banteay Srei is a landmine museum, established by an ex-Khmer Rouge who was responsible for planting many of the mines in the first place.  At some stage, he defected to the other side, and later, once the civil war was finished, he dedicated himself to help clear the mines.   Apparently he was a bit cavalier (although successful) in his approach to clearing the mines and the government eventually shut him down.  He was later sponsored to go overseas to learn the correct protocols (eg record keeping, methods of finding, detonating or defusing the mines) – and was then back in business.  The museum basically represents some of the landmines that he has cleared over the years.

So.. that was our day.  Another day of temple gazing, followed by a refreshing swim in the pool.  It’s hard to make the day sound exciting, and I suspect to some, the prospect of wandering around temples for 2 days is a bit daunting.  But honestly, it’s been a great couple of days!  The temples are actually really interesting to see, and they’re all quite different from each other.  And as mentioned before, if you’re into photography in any sort of way, it’s very easy to kill a couple of hours at each!

For my records, the temples that we saw today are:

  • Angkor Wat
  • Banteay Srei
  • Pre Rup
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