I know I’m jumping around a bit with which time period of my travels I’m writing about but I’m trying to write about the ‘highlights’ of my trip because I tend to have more pictures of those. I’ll get back to current time every so often too, but eventually I will be back on track 🙂
So after learning to dive and spending a couple more days in Pulau Weh, myself, Todd, Lou-lou and Arte went to Cambodia together (well actually Todd went to Vietnam but we flew out of Indonesia together). After visiting Phnom Pehn together, I said bye to Lou-lou and Arte (who weren’t sure where they were going) and spent another day there, before I decided to go to Siam Reap. Funnily enough, I got to Siam Reap and was walking around for about an hour, and guess who I bump in to – literally!
So this was perfect timing because I wanted to go to Angkor Wat but I didn’t want to go by myself and I was trying to figure out how to go with other people. Well it turns out the girls were planning to go there the next day, so after going for a drink (and convincing us all to have one more) we agreed to go to Angkor Wat together the next day.
Off our adventure begins around the temples!
We took the ‘Small Circuit’ one day tour of the temples (purple on the map), because it gets pretty expensive to do more, as entry alone is $20 for the day! Koko told us that it’s better to do Angkor Wat itself last, as it’s less busy around 4, so we started off with Sras Srang and Banteay Kdei which are opposite each other. I didn’t know much about the temples so I didn’t really know what to expect, and was pleasantly surprised by the rich history and culture I could appreciate from them.
Sras Srang is the one that looks like a platform/stairs before the lake, and Banteay Kdei is much bigger – it took about an hour for us to explore from one side to the other. I got a couple of cool shots, including the chicken and her chicks, the one framed by 2 trees and the close-ups. That was me trying to be #artsy 😉
Next up we have Ta Prohm, the one that made an appearance in the new Tomb Raider movie. Many people (myself included) like this temple the most, and you can see why – the nature growing in and around the temple structures makes for some fantastical scenes. As you can see the nature has altered the fundamental structure of the temple in some places, and it causes certain parts of it to be a bit dangerous so there are many signs telling you not to climb. The main attraction is the last 2 pictures – two trees that have grown in such a way that they have become part of the temple. And whatever wildlife you happen to find crawling around, of course 😉
Ta Keo was honestly a challenge for me. I’m not sure how many of you know this but I’m scared of heights, and am not the surest on my feet, so climbing up was a mental challenge that I decided to overcome. However, climbing up proved to be fairly easy. It was climbing down that was the problem. It’s more a fear of falling than heights, as I was able to enjoy the view from the top quite a lot!
By the time I got down Arte and Lou-lou and Koko were waitng for me. I felt a bit bad but they hadn’t been waiting long and were glad that I managed to make it to the top, because the view was stunning and it would’ve been a shame if I missed out. We drove a while towards the East gate and stopped to walk across the bridge, which as you can see had some interesting statues and a beautiful view of the lake. Actually I have to say we had some beautiful weather that day – sunny but cloudy enough that it wasn’t too hot.
Before we carried on to the text temple, we got some coconut sticky rice that Koko recommended. I didn’t think I would like it but it wasn’t too expensive and the 3 of us split the cost. Honestly, I realised after the first mouthful that I absolutely hated it – I really don’t like coconut in things. Coconut water or fresh coconut is great though! Arte and Lou-lou didn’t really like it either but Koko was happy to take it so that worked out!
Angkor Thom was pretty interesting, there was more intricate art on the walls and a lot of buddist imagery, including quite a few statues like the last picture where you had faces on all 4 sides. I enjoyed walking around this one a lot because there was a lot to observe.
The big one. Angkor Wat itself. It is the only temple of this whole set that has always been in use. As with a lot of the other temples, it was originally a Hindu temple dedicated to Vishnu, and was converted to a Buddhist temple in the 14th century. I have got to say, the one-day tour for these temples is enough for any casual traveller, because after a whole day of visiting temples we were tired of seeing temples, to the point where we joked about just going back instead of visiting another temple. Luckily we got some food and felt a bit refreshed so we did in fact visit the temple in the end, which we would definitely have regretted missing. I have to say that I’m glad we got a tour guide, because after seeing so many temples it was more enjoyable to go around Angkor Wat and really lear about it. Our tour guide was pretty good, and taught us a lot we didn’t know about some of the other temples too! We just spoke to one of the guys outside the temple and bargained the price down (although I was a bit quick on the gun and agreed to a price slightly higher than what we could’ve paid – oops, sorry again Lou-lou and Arte!).
It’s a really big temple, in fact it’s 208 hectares (500 acres – about 250 football pitches!) in total, defined by a laetrile wall. The temple is surrounded by a huge moat going all the way around, and as you can see on a sunny day can produce some beautiful reflection pictures. Inside there’s a very large statue that was originally meant to depict Vishnu, but they’ve pretty much just renamed it to Buddah, that has partially been reconstructed. They also have a statue of Lakshmi that has had some damage but they’ve preserved it. On the first gate/wall, there are some AK-47 bullet holes from the shootout between the Khmer Rouge and Vietnamese forces. Through that there is another long bridge that leads to the main part of the temple in the centre of the grounds, with other smaller buildings coming of the sides, one of which was a library. At the end of this bridge is the central temple overlooking a lovely lake, which is where all the famous pictures of Angkor (and the money shot before) are taken.
Outside the main temple was some cool plants, called ‘Mimosa pudica’, which shrinks when you touch it. I know it’s quite random to mention it but we had fun watching it, I don’t think I’ve encountered it before! On the inside, there is a lot to see, including 4 pools (similar to the giant Roman baths) which currently have no water in them, so you can walk around and take some cool pictures. There is a spot in the middle where you can supposedly see all 4 pools. Also, if I remember correctly, there was a room on one of the sides which had great acoustics. Right in the middle there was another tower where you can climb up and get a spectacular shot of the sunset but we would have to wait in a long line and sunset wasn’t for about 3 hours so we decided to go back instead
The Money Shot
All in all I had a pretty fantastic day, and I’m really glad I got a chance to Angkor Wat with Lou-lou and Arte, we had a lot of fun 🙂
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Til the next one,