Temple Overload

Trip Start Oct 30, 2012
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41
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Trip End May 30, 2013


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Flag of Cambodia  ,
Wednesday, November 21, 2012

After spending almost 3 weeks in Cambodia, we've done well at avoiding almost all temples and wats.  I guess we were saving up for this!

We're here! Siem Reap! Temples of Angkor! The whole reason people travel to Cambodia (apparently) – many only breezing in and out of this place and never seeing anywhere else.

Have actually been a little concerned about this as it will be our first real 'tourist' activity since leaving. We avoided the other biggie in Cambodia (Sianokville) and don't really like the idea of participating in all of this. You pay huge entry fees and tuk-tuk or taxi costs and I've heard that Cambodia doesn't even own Angkor anymore...I'd rather my money go to something a little bit more beneficial to the people. But, we can't really come to Cambodia and not take a wee peek.

The early morning was quite magical. With the mist rising out of the trees from the previous evening's rain. We went to quite a derelict and remote temple – Bantteay Kdei. This was a lovely little temple that seemed to endlessly stretch further and further into the woods with lovely ponds around. It had some great examples of the lotus flower towers and even had a few trees growing amount the ruins. I was excited to see the dance room covered in carvings depicting Apsara dancers that we saw last night.

Today, being at the temples and seeing those huge faces in Bayon, I actually did get an excited feeling of: 'I'm in Cambodia!'. Even though we've been here for 2 weeks, this is a completely different side.  Seeing the rich cultural heritage, architecture and history. I have enjoyed many other aspects of Khemer life so far, but this was just one more experience piecing things together.

What a variety of buildings: temple mountains, small temples, the conversions from Hinduism to Buddhism back to Hinduism. Without a guide, I know I've just barely skimmed the surface of everything that's there.

Upon arrival, seeing so many tour buses packed with people is a little worrying. But a few buses help to occupy the desperate sellers!  Also, once you get into the temple areas, they are usually quite large and you can find your own hide away places.

One of my favourites of the day was Bayon. This is the one with all of the huge faces carved. It's large and upright like one of the 'mountain temples' but with endless little stairways and hidden corridors below.

Last stop was Angkor, the most famous of them all with the classic image you'll see on everything.

Day two, we did together and it was super full! A beautiful full day, so we were roasting out in the sun when the temples were not in the forest.

Saved Ta Prohm to see with Brian as this was his number one to see. At first, we were really worried as there were hoards of people and all we could see were these raised pathways, cranes and noise of reconstruction. Where was the mystique? Brian wanted to relive the film (Tomb Raider was filmed at this one). However, soon we found some wonderful little rooms and closed in areas where no one was. I think of the day, it was our favourite. Not any incredible carvings or history, but just time spent marvelling at how time can pass and things can change.



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