From Here to Eternity

Trip Start Dec 26, 2010
Trip End Feb 03, 2011

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Where I stayed
Heart of Angkor guesthouse

Flag of Cambodia  ,
Friday, January 21, 2011

To rise at 430 am is not an easy thing to do especially when I am travelling. However today was no ordinary day. Pov picked me up at 5am and headed straight to the grounds of Angkor Wat. I sure was not the only insane visitor at this ungodly hour. It was apparent that the left pond facing Angkor Wat was massively popular with photographers. I managed to park myself on the edge and digged my butt in at 530am. All we can see was the faint outline of Angkor Wat against a dark sky turning purple..
In less than 45 minutes, the area behind me was completely packed with throngs of visitors with their cameras but none could get a shot unless they were right at the front. By 530am the sky was starting to brighten up. The moment the sun peeked behind the south wing of Angkor Wat, all cameras and flashes were in full action. The sunrise itself was beautiful, creating a mystical outline of Angkor Wat, although one would notice the reconstruction/conservation work on the front entrance. I was actually quite happy with the silhoutte shots, masking away the scaffoldings and intrusive plastic tarps.
Entering Angkor Wat via the southern corridors, the beautiful bas reliefs became apparent, depicting mythical khmer stories. One of them - The Churning of the Ocean of Milk - deities grasping a long dragon with nine snakeheads above the ocean. This was really entertaining, like reading a graphical novel off the wall. The low morning sun rays were also starting to creep through rows of columns creating light and shadows as I wandered along the long passageways. In the middle of Angkor Wat after climbing some of the steepest ladders around Cambodia, you would enter the sacred temple grounds surrounded by sunken courtyards and the outer perimeter of passageways. The morning light reaching into these courtyards was pale and soft but gave the entire space the most sacred atmosphere I had ever experienced. On the lower ground, you would enter larger and deeper courtyards so eerily illuminated by the sky that it was awe-inspiring.
Headed out to the nearby food stalls for a fish porridge breakfast at 9am, I was thirsty for the next ruins stop. Entering Angkor Thom, some ten minutes away on tuktuk, the faces of Bayon greeted me as they did for thousands of years. The Bayon was indeed unique from the rest. Huge stone faces on temple walls, some completely ruined and some smiled for eternity. Getting any clear shots of the Bayon was no easy feat. At this time of the day, The Bayon had hundred more faces than usual, many with sunglasses on. It was nonetheless an amazing experience to be at The Bayon.
A short walk towards north, Baphuon came into view. The ruins of this pyramid temple looked insignificant initially with restoration scaffolding atop. After viewing the history of Baphuon, I realised that a monumental brick reclining Buddha forms the western face of the pyramid. That in itself was awe-striking to say the least. I wandered carelessly off track and chanced upon a small terraced pyramid temple called Phimeanakas and took upon myself to scale it to the top. Exiting to the north, meant that I missed out the interesting walled entrance to Phimeanakas - Terrace of the Elephants. Managed to wander the northern tip pf the entrance without realising it later. One surprise attraction was the Terrace of the Leper King, containing a high walled corridor through a simple maze, decorated with ancient bas reliefs. The high walls meant restricted light and the shadows casted on the figurines were splendid.
A short lunch with Pov, we were off again, this time to Ta Keo. At this lesser decorated temple mountain, I first met Naseem from the US, navigating her way down the steep steps. We met again at Ta Prohm and Banteay Kdei to later sharing Pov's tuktuk the following day. After marvelling in the delightful ruins of Beng Mealea yesterday, Ta Prohm was just slightly short of being exciting. Although the terrifying tree roots over two distinctive parts of the temple ruins were recognisable in the film Lara Croft, it failed to make a deeper impression on me. Partly due to the throngs of tourists making so much din that it felt more like a wet market than a sacred temple ruin. Banteay Kdei the last stop of the day, was an easy wander in this fairly flat and small temple ruin.
Back at the guesthouse, I was just dying to have a shower and freshen up. It was truly an eye feast on the three most major attractions of Angkor - namely Angkor Wat, Bayon and Ta Prohm. The very act of being there itself was a thrilling experience.
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Nas on

That was so much fun! The photos turned out very beautiful.

Shower and freshen up at the guest house?...I swear you just hang out naked in your room! :-)

wilsonheng on

Thanks everyone is having a mental picture of me in my birthday suit

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