Tomb Raider Time!

Angkor Travel Blog

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Sunrise over Angkor Wat

As a continuation of my trek through Hollywood filming sites, I was very excited to check out the temples of Angkor where part of Tomb Raider was filmed (the temple Ta Prohm to be exact).  I don't know what it is about my interest in visiting fantastical places I've seen in a dark theater with hundreds of strangers.  Maybe it makes me feel like I'm living a little of the cinematic magic.  In any case, it's all a bit cheesy but I can't deny that I'm into the cheese.

The temples of Angkor can best be described as the Disneyland of old Buddhist and Hindu temples.  (I wish I could give you more history about the temples, but unfortunately, I don't remember much from the Lonely Planet guidebook.

Sunrise over Angkor Wat
)  The temples are spread out over a large area and although you can bike around the structures in one area, it's much easier and more efficient to have someone chaufer you around (especially when it costs $12 a day to rent a tuk tuk and its driver).  Tuk tuks in Cambodia are basically rickshaws pulled by a moped.  It's also incredibly hot and dusty, so it's nice to have a little bit of reprieve from those conditions.

I opted for the tuk tuk option of course and toured around with my super awesome (and very cute) Cambodian driver, Hung or Ah Hung (the communication thing didn't work out very well), who put up with my lightning fast temple tours (kind of how I approach museum visits).  He also indulged my sporadic and frequent bathroom needs - I swear I have the world's smallest bladder and I wasn't about to get dehydrated either.

Sunrise over Angkor Wat
  We would pass a bathroom and when we had arrived at the next temple 2 km away, I would decide that I needed to pee.

So, at 5:20am when I descended 10 minutes early, Hung was already waiting for me.  It was pitch black and I dressed way too lightly for the pre-dawn chill.  In any case, I was prepared for the dust with my facemask and sunglasses.  When I arrived at Angkor Wat, the sky was just beginning to lighten a bit and there were heaps of people (mostly Chinese tourists) already perched all around the outer walls.  The great thing about traveling alone is that there is always room for a solitary Chinese girl to squeeze in.  I had a delicious breakfast of seaweed-flavored Cambodian version of Goldfish and waited for the sun to make its way up.

Sunrise over Angkor Wat - me in one of my professional self-portraits
 

I don't how to describe to you the immense size of Angkor Wat and the spiritual effect of watching the blood-orange red orb rise over the towers of Angkor Wat.  Perhaps, it has become nothing more than an exploited tourist attraction but it s incredible to ponder the longevity of these temples which have survived centuries of war and natural disasters (with a little help from modern restorations).  And though I'm not a very religious person, the quasi-pilgramage of visiting the temples had a profound effect on my voyage of self-discovery.  I'm not sure you can consider my $10 ultra-contrived elephant ride around the Bayou Temple a quasi-pilgramage, but I guess the fruition of months of planning and finally arriving in a very foreign country on my own to soak in the millenium of history felt like a bonafide pilgramage.

Sunrise over Angkor Wat

The first day I went from sunrise to sunset, a tiring but interesting trip through Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom (Bayou and other temples), Preah Khan, and Ta Prohm where I relived Tomb Raider.  I watched the sunset over a tiny lake (that's being generous...could have been a cesspool), in which little kids were playing in the unequivocally unhygenic water.  A boy of around 10 years old wore me down until I bought a bottle of his water. 

"Buy my water."
No, I don't want any, I have my own. 
"What you like? Buy my coconuts.  Buy my postcards.  10 for $1." 
No thank you.  I don't want 10 postcards. 
"Whaaatt?  Buy my water.  I need the money go to school." 
Ummm, (damn, he used the school excuse and I'm a sucker for education) I'm just trying to watch the sunset.  If I buy your water, will you leave me alone?

Good to know that the children of Cambodia are receiving a proper education in the English language and economics.

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Sunrise over Angkor Wat
Sunrise over Angkor Wat
Sunrise over Angkor Wat
Sunrise over Angkor Wat
Sunrise over Angkor Wat
Sunrise over Angkor Wat
Sunrise over Angkor Wat - me in on…
Sunrise over Angkor Wat - me in o…
Sunrise over Angkor Wat
Sunrise over Angkor Wat
Sunrise over Angkor Wat
Sunrise over Angkor Wat
Sunrise over Angkor Wat - it just …
Sunrise over Angkor Wat - it just…
The loads of people taking it all …
The loads of people taking it all…
Causeway to the outer walls
Causeway to the outer walls
Me and the temple
Me and the temple
Temple entrance
Temple entrance
Me in my comfy window seat where I…
Me in my comfy window seat where …
More views of teh inner court
More views of teh inner court
Excellent cloud formations
Excellent cloud formations
Wall of temple
Wall of temple
Outer wall
Outer wall
Wall carvings
Wall carvings
Famous reliefs that encircle the t…
Famous reliefs that encircle the …
Temple entrance
Temple entrance
Nagas (or magical serpents) that g…
Nagas (or magical serpents) that …
Monkeys
Monkeys
Monkeys looking for breakfast
Monkeys looking for breakfast
Bug I found in my hair
Bug I found in my hair
West entrance
West entrance
Vishnu
Vishnu
Moat around Angkor Wat
Moat around Angkor Wat
Elephant Ride around Bayou Temple …
Elephant Ride around Bayou Temple…
Me and my elephant
Me and my elephant
Driver...doesnt look comfy
Driver...doesn't look comfy
A fellow traveler
A fellow traveler
Modes of transport just arent afr…
Modes of transport just aren't af…
Bayou, temple of many faces
Bayou, temple of many faces
All day long in this position - ou…
All day long in this position - o…
Buddhist temple
Buddhist temple
Bayou Temple
Bayou Temple
Elephant ear
Elephant ear
Happy elephant (I hope)
Happy elephant (I hope)
South Gate
South Gate
South Gate of Angkor Thom
South Gate of Angkor Thom
Prepared for the dust
Prepared for the dust
Self-explanatory tips for the bath…
Self-explanatory tips for the bat…
Preah Khan northern entrance - dev…
Preah Khan northern entrance - de…
Preah Khan
Preah Khan
Preah Khan
Preah Khan
Preah Khan - entrance
Preah Khan - entrance
Preah Khan
Preah Khan
Preah Khan
Preah Khan
Preah Khan
Preah Khan
Preah Khan
Preah Khan
Preah Khan - oddly Alexandrian col…
Preah Khan - oddly Alexandrian co…
Preah Khan
Preah Khan
Preah Khan
Preah Khan
Preah Khan - tree overgrowing temp…
Preah Khan - tree overgrowing tem…
Preah Khan - sculptures in wall
Preah Khan - sculptures in wall
Preah Khan - linga, phallic struct…
Preah Khan - linga, phallic struc…
Preah Khan - bordering moat
Preah Khan - bordering moat
Preah Khan - western entrance
Preah Khan - western entrance
Lunch outside of Ta Prohm - stir f…
Lunch outside of Ta Prohm - stir …
Lunch stalls outside of Ta Prohm
Lunch stalls outside of Ta Prohm
Bathroom behind food stalls
"Bathroom" behind food stalls
Food Stalls
Food Stalls
Ta Prohm - Iconic crocodylic tree
Ta Prohm - "Iconic" crocodylic tree
Ta Prohm - Me and Iconic crocody…
Ta Prohm - Me and "Iconic" crocod…
Ta Prohm - Tomb Raider Tree - the …
Ta Prohm - Tomb Raider Tree - the…
Ta Prohm - Me and the Tomb Raider …
Ta Prohm - Me and the Tomb Raider…
Ta Prohm - Me as Angelina Jolie
Ta Prohm - Me as Angelina Jolie
Ta Prohm - Me posing
Ta Prohm - Me posing
Ta Prohm - More cool overgrown tre…
Ta Prohm - More cool overgrown tr…
Ta Prohm - Hung, my driver, always…
Ta Prohm - Hung, my driver, alway…
Ta Keo
Ta Keo
Breath-takingly steep stairs of Ta…
Breath-takingly steep stairs of T…
Me at the top of Ta Keo
Me at the top of Ta Keo
Ta Keo
Ta Keo
Ta Keo
Ta Keo
Angkor Thom - Nagas serpents
Angkor Thom - Nagas serpents
Angkor Thom - Terrace of the Leper…
Angkor Thom - Terrace of the Lepe…
Angkor Thom
Angkor Thom
Angkor Thom - Terrace of the Eleph…
Angkor Thom - Terrace of the Elep…
Angkor Thom - Terrace of the Eleph…
Angkor Thom - Terrace of the Elep…
Nagas
Nagas
Garudas: Half-man, half-bird
Garudas: Half-man, half-bird
Angkor Thom - Phimeanakas
Angkor Thom - Phimeanakas
Angkor Thom - Phimeanakas
Angkor Thom - Phimeanakas
Sunset over lake / cesspool near A…
Sunset over lake / cesspool near …
Angkor Thom - Baphuon
Angkor Thom - Baphuon
Angkor Thom - Preah Palilay
Angkor Thom - Preah Palilay
Angkor Thom - Preah Palilay
Angkor Thom - Preah Palilay
Angkor Thom - Bayou Temple
Angkor Thom - Bayou Temple
Angkor Thom - Bayou Temple, temple…
Angkor Thom - Bayou Temple, templ…
Angkor Thom - Bayou Temple
Angkor Thom - Bayou Temple
Angkor Thom - Bayou Temple - dance…
Angkor Thom - Bayou Temple - danc…
Angkor Thom - Bayou Temple - beaut…
Angkor Thom - Bayou Temple - beau…
Angkor Thom - Bayou Temple
Angkor Thom - Bayou Temple
Angkor Thom - Bayou Temple
Angkor Thom - Bayou Temple
Angkor Thom - Bayou Temple
Angkor Thom - Bayou Temple
Angkor Thom - Bayou Temple
Angkor Thom - Bayou Temple
Angkor Thom - Bayou Temple, me in …
Angkor Thom - Bayou Temple, me in…
Angkor Thom - Bayou Temple
Angkor Thom - Bayou Temple
Angkor Thom - Bayou Temple, a happ…
Angkor Thom - Bayou Temple, a hap…
Angkor Thom - Sun descending on Ba…
Angkor Thom - Sun descending on B…
Angkor Thom - Sun descending on Ba…
Angkor Thom - Sun descending on B…
Sunset over lake
Sunset over lake
Sunset over lake
Sunset over lake
Sunset over lake
Sunset over lake
Food stalls near lake
Food stalls near lake
Cattle near lake
Cattle near lake
Little kids playing in really clea…
Little kids playing in really cle…
Sunset over lake
Sunset over lake
Sunset over lake
Sunset over lake
Sunset over lake
Sunset over lake
Sunset over lake
Sunset over lake
Kids playing in some beer-bottle-l…
Kids playing in some beer-bottle-…
Last bits of sunset
Last bits of sunset
Me in tuk tuk back in hostal
Me in tuk tuk back in hostal
Hung, my hot Cambodian driver
Hung, my hot Cambodian driver
Angkor
photo by: ulysses