Angkor Temples - The small circuit
Siem Reap Travel Blog› entry 98 of 658 › view all entries
People i met here, who contributed to and improved my trip: Juliana (Russia), Jim (England)
We found a really lovely hotel in Siem Reap with air conditioning, hot shower and nice owner for only $8.75 a night, which was relative luxury after some of the other places we had inhabited! Next step was to sort our laundry and then hire a tuk tuk driver for the next 3 days. All of this accomplished and we were ready to explore the amazing Angkor ruins.
We had met up with Jim again to do the 3 day excursion and on the first day we did the popular small circuit, which i had done on my last visit to Cambodia.
We entered Angkor Thom through the impressive South Gate, which is lined with huge faces carved from rock. Once into the complex, we were greeted by a number of monkeys, swimming in some shallow water, which came as an added, unexpected bonus. The first temple you come across is Bayon, famous for the 216 massive faces of Avalokiteshvara, constantly watching your every move! Other than the more obvious large carvings, staring down at you, are the other 11,000 carved figures throughout the temple.
After Bayon we walked to the nearby Baphuon temple, which was undergoing massive reconstruction due to various collapses over the years. The temple was originally a pyramid and it should look pretty imposing if its ever restored to its former glory. Another short walk and we reached Phimeanakas, where we clambered to the top of the extremely steep staircase. Although not as famous as the other temples in Angkor Thom, it holds its own in design and serenity. We walked back to our starting point near Bayon, passing both the Terrace of the Leper King and the Terrace of Elephants, both with intricately carved depictions from the period.
We were pleased to escape the sun and jumped in the tuk tuk to be whisked around to Ta Keo, a massive pyramid, made from stone that had been transported from 70km away by elephant. The views from the top were lovely, even if the climb wasn't one for someone with vertigo.
Next on our list was the fascinating complex of Ta Prohm. Unlike any of the other temples, many of the trees that had been growing for hundreds of years at the site, had been left to run riot. We walked in and out of decrepit ruins, finding it not too hard to believe that Tomb Raider had been filmed here. After more than an hour, we bode a fond farewell and went to see what is arguably the jewel in the Angkor crown, Angkor Wat.
The temple is accessed across a moat and as you approach the outer wall it is hard to grasp the true magnitude of the site, as the distances are so great.