From Here to Eternity
Trip Start Dec 26, 2010
40Trip End Feb 03, 2011
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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
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
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
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.