Angkor temples mini circuit
Siem Reap Travel Blog› entry 6 of 8 › view all entries
Our Tuk Tuk driver met us at our hotel and insisted that we call him Jackie Chan which is probably just as well as we had several attepts at trying his real name but never got it right to his satisfaction. The temples of Angkor are much more that just Angkor Wat there are complexes spread across a vast area with at least 50 sites to visit possibly many more. The tuk tuk ride out to the temples takes 20 to 30 minutes and we strongly recommend taking sunglasses and a scarf to protect your eyes, nose and mouth from the considerable clouds of dust thrown up by the traffic. On the way into the reserve you have to stop at the checkpoint where on your first day you will be required to pay for your pass ($40 for a three day one) and have one of those digital photos taken which always manage to make you seem fat.
Frustrated with the tour group crowds which are currently even worse than normal as it's Chinese New Year, we moved on hoping to get in front of them and next stop was a pair of temples opposite each other. The first called the Thomanom was in much better condition than its opposite number Chau Say Thevoda. You might be forgiven for thinking that it would be a case of seen one temple seen them all but they all have unique characteristics and styles which make no two the same. The building of temples went on between the 9th and 12th centuries and construction techniques, materials used and carving methods all changed and developed during that time.
The next site was called the Ta Keo involved a crazy climb up the steepest and most narrow steps imaginable. The very helpful sign at the bottom stating that we climb at our own risk said all that was needed to say. The climb though was totally worth it as it was a lovely view from the top and some really nice carvings of dancing girls which were in good condition. As is always the way the climb down is worse than the climb up as you can see how far you can fall but we made it intact. In fact during our whole three days we didn't see a single person fall and if that sounds like dissapointment it probably is as there were alot of very annoying people around.
After Angkor Wat, probably the most famous temple in the Angkor complex is Ta Prom which is where the Tomb Raider film was shot.
Banteay Kdei is another huge sprawling complex in a similar style to Bayon and the as yet unseen (by us) Angkor Wat. It has also been left largely unrestored and made for excellent exploring and this temple was originally built by Buddhists only for the predominant religion to switch back to Hinduism and as a consequence the many images of poor old Buddha had there faces hacked off or recarved in the likeness of hindu deities.
The day was wearing on and we were getting tired and (as it turned out later) we made the inspired decision to forgo visiting Angkor Wat itself today in favour of seeing it at sunrise tommorrow. We stopped off at one last temple called Prasat Kravan which was built from brick and had them carved with reliefs but not much carving remains to be seen so it wasn't really worth it especially in light of the wonders we had seen at the other temples.
We headed back to the hotel for a swim in the pool and a coconut shake which was heaven after a dusty and very sweaty day. Make no mistake temple exploration is hard work, lots of climbs, dusty walks, dodging begging monster kids and the dangers of blocks of stone to trip over. We were exhausted. Happy hour in 'pub street' beconned and a few cheap beers and a slap up meal at our favourite restaurant the Khmer Kitchen later we felt much better. We bumped into a Canadian guy called Jason who introduced us to Bubble tea which we have become instantly addicted to (Sorry to David who has been recommending it to us forever, if only we'd listened to you!!).