Siem Reap Day 2

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Saturday, January 8, 2011

Siem Reap Day 2

It is 5:30am and once again our group is sitting in our bus in pitch black darkness.

We drive to the entry registration point, for this is our first visit to the massive Angkor complex. We alight from the bus and each of us still half asleep, stand in front of a camera to have our photo taken – not a pretty picture.

Every one entering the Angkor region must always carry an identity tag (with picture). This is always checked by security when entering into individual temples and other areas within this vast complex. A three day pass costs USD40.00.

We get back on the bus, for our mission this morning is to photograph the mother of all temples with dawn breaking behind her. Angkor Wat is the largest religious building in the world.

Being at the temple at dawn is also extremely popular with the tourists, especially the Japanese.

We arrive at the moat and with torches we carry our cameras and tripods across the causeway (being rebuilt) to the inner grounds and to where the crowds are gathering.

On glancing to the sky and in the pre-dawn light we take note of the clouds and our hopes for a shining red ball appearing behind the temple diminishes. We, also note some scaffolding within the temple that would affect that otherwise perfect image we all had in mind. However, never mind we are still pleased to have this opportunity. Kim advises the group from where exactly the sun will and explains that on the 23rd or 24th September each year, the sum rises immediately behind the centre tower of Angkor Wat. As the light strengthens we note the hundreds of people that have also made this early morning pilgrimage to the temple.

Angkor was built from 1130 – 1170 and consists of sandstone and volcanic rock. The sandstone was floated down the river to the site.

A point for those visiting Angkor Wat in relation to toilets – looking east towards the temple the toilets on the left are squat and you pay for their use whereas on the right, the toilets are of western style and are free.

Back to our hotel for breakfast and then the group visit the Bakong (881AD) and Preah (879 AD) temples photographing and taking in the history.

The Cham people from Vietnam invaded Cambodia in 1177 AD and occupied Angkor Wat for a period of four years. Angkor Tom was built in 1181 AD to replace Angkor Wat as the capital city. From 1181-1219 AD the ruling King changed the religion from Hinduism to Buddhism. But this was reversed in 1243 and Hinduism once again became the religion in Angkor.

Angkor Wat was never completely abandoned, so it never succumbs to the jungle growth as did many other temples in the area.

Ta Prom is one such temple that was engulfed by the jungle and lay unclaimed. This is a very interesting temple and was used in the filming of "Tomb Raider"

In the afternoon we visit Ta Prom after first stopping to photograph the “Bayou”.
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