Sunrise and many, many more temples
Siem Reap Travel Blog› entry 178 of 254 › view all entries
We had arranged for the tuk-tuks to pick us up at 5am so that we could watch the sunrise at Angkor Wat. When we got there it was still dark. We walked across the inner causeway and sat waiting for the red disc to appear in the sky. In the end it was a little disappointing as it was too cloudy to see the sun, but it was still worth being up early just to avoid the crowds. Emma had a wander over to the outside of the central temple to have a look at the bas-reliefs, which stretch for 800m. They are intricate and incredibly detailed carvings of armies and battle scenes.
We had decided to devote most of our morning to exploring Angkor Thom. Known as the 'Great City,' it is surrounded by a wall 8m high and 12 km long, encircled by a moat.
At the heart of Angkor Thom is the structure known as 'Bayon.' From a distance it looks like a jumbled pile of stones, and it is not until you enter that you sense the detail and symmetry. The feature that makes Bayon unique, however, is its 54 towers, each decorated with 4 enigmatic looking faces, staring out in all directions. Wherever you go, there are several faces looking at you from various directions and heights. It is quite imposing.
After grabbing some breakfast at one of the many stalls near the temples, we walked over to the nearby Baphuon, which would have been one of Angkor's most spectacular temples back in the 11th century when it was completed.
Back in the tuk-tuks, we passed the Terrace of the Elephants (350m long, it was used as a viewing stand for public ceremonies) and made our way to Ta Prohm (after a quick stop at the temple never completed - Ta Keo), our last stop. All the temples we had seen so far had been surrounded by forest, but with Ta Prohm you get a real sense that the forest is closing in on it. If you can block out the tourists, it's not difficult to imagine how the first European explorers felt when they 'discovered' these temples, finding a lost, ancient civilisation.
Back at La Villa Loti, we rested for the afternoon before making our way out for our last evening with Carol and Nicola.