The Temples Of Angkor
Siem Reap Travel Blog› entry 51 of 117 › view all entries
The big one, the main event: The Temples Of Angkor. This is the reason why Cambodia is packed with backpackers right now. Get ready for photo-madness on the blog- everywhere you turn there's something worth snapping.
But not right now - cos the internet here is about as fast as the boat we got here!
Built by the Khmer civilisation between 802 and 1220AD, you wouldn't believe the hundreds of religious temples would still be in as good condition as they are today. There's over 100, so way more than you could visit in a couple of days. Restoration work is undergoing in places, and has been in others, and it's hard to tell where, it's so subtle. There are several main temples that you must visit, which we tried our best to on our first day.
Back on the road an hour later, we visited another biggie - Ta Prohm - which was used for location in the film, Tomb Raider.
As you come out of each temple, there's about 10-15 stalls, each selling cold drinks and snacks. And every time you come out you can bet your bottom dollar that each one is going to shout at you, "Cold drinks, sir" or similar, trying to out-shout their peers. It gets to the point where if you buy anything, you almost get lynched by the others who you ignored. It got to the point where I would shout, "Who will bring me one large cold water" and people would flock towards you. They line up like horses at the Grand National, and I enjoyed seeing this one young kid race past all the early leaders to bring me his bottle first, much to the bitter resentment of the losers.
Angkor Wat, of all the temples, is supposed to be the biggest and best: numero one. It's the biggest religious building in the world. We were told in our guide and by previous visitors it was the highlight, something we would drop our jaws in admiration for. But, seen as the image is a source of pride in Cambodia, plastered on its national flag, every other shop that also uses its name and pretty much anywhere else you care to think of, we had pretty much been decensitised by it. Plus the fact that it's hard to make out from the hundreds of Japanese tourists that flood down its entrance path, like the walkway at Disneyland, it was only a little disappointing. That said, we still hadn't visited all parts of it on day one, and some of the bas-reliefs on the walls within the building are incredible.
Sunset was supposed to be the best time of day to view the temple and we were unlucky to have cloud in the final half an hour before the sun said goodbye. Not to worry - we were due to visit again for sunrise the next day. So a lovely 5:00 start to look forward to.