More magical Angkor sights and scenery

Trip Start Jun 29, 2005
Trip End Nov 30, 2009

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Flag of Cambodia  , Khétt Siĕm Réab,
Monday, November 28, 2005

Just so you know, most of the temples in this and the last entry were built in the 12th century AD, at a time when there were more than a million inhabitants in the area. London had only 30-50,000 at the time!

There are hundreds of temples in the greater Angkor area and you would need a week or two to visit most major sites. Still, with a 3 day pass for $US40 you can make a good start. Also note that if you're backpacking, Siem Reap is quite expensive in terms of food, transportation and accommodation.

Preah Khan

One of the Grand Circuit (outer) temples, a huge complex (800m x 700m) filled with long and narrow passageways with adjoining nooks and crannies, as well as a variety of interesting outer compound structures such as the two storey colonnade pictured middle below (how did that get here from Rome?). Plenty to see and do here for an hour or two.

Banteay Srei

A more remote temple, around 17km north of the main Angkor sites. This was a female temple constructed out of different stone and intricately carved throughout. The temple is in great shape despite its age. The far right picture is of an unknown temple somewhere in the vicinity of Banteay Srei and is an imposing structure in its own right.

Bakong (Roluos group)

The Roluos group, south east of Siem Reap, is the oldest group in the area and were the founding temples of the Khmer empire back in the 9th century. Simple in comparison to some later sites, it is still large and impressive in its own right, with large stone animal carvings on the corners of its eight levels (ascending to the central stupa tower) and a multitude of 2 to 3 storey external towers at the periphery.

Kabal Spean

This is an unusual site about 50km north of Angkor. A 45 minute walk is required along a pretty path through some extraordinarily viney jungle to reach a waterfall and a series of elaborate carvings - most carved right into the rocks of the riverbed! Called the River of a Thousand Lingams, most are of rounded phallic shapes, however there are a variety of more intricate and unusual religious designs. Must have been long and cold work for these isolated monks indeed!


With the size and scope of the temples it is easy to overlook the smaller details, such as the many thousands of carvings that adorn them. Most depict voluptuous angel spirits however many also tell the stories of great battles, virtues of various Kings or the minutiae of everyday life. I should have paid more attention to them myself, but its hard unless you have plenty of time here!

Siem Reap itself is a bit of a dump unfortunately. Still, there's some attractive colonial architecture, all mod cons are available and pockets of the place have westernised to such a degree that they now sport names such as 'Bar Street'. Construction is going on everywhere so this trend will no doubt continue. Just find a friendly guesthouse in the backstreets and spend most of your time at the temples (unless you can afford Le Grand Hotel, pictured below).

Phew - that's all I have time for in Cambodia but I'm happy in the knowledge that there is two places I would definitely like to come back to, plus a couple still to be explored on a later trip (Battambang and the south coast around Sihanoukville). Anyone want to join me sometime?

Next entry -> Saigon

Great Brands of the World - Cambodia

Cambodia is a bit short on marketing imagination unfortunately. Probably other things to worry about before they get too carried away with the creative stuff.

Anyway, one brand I have noticed stuck about everywhere is Cosmic.

Any idea what it is? Would be a great name for a chain of happy shake peddling cafes but no, it's a portfolio motor oils and lubricants. Hmmm, as long as it doesn't do anything too cosmic to your engine...
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