Gate to Angkor Thom
It was on my short visit back to the Netherlands that people asked me if I saw the temples a lot. I was living in Siem Reap
, it's obvious if you live so near. The truth is that I have to work hard on my research and sometimes also in the weekend. And usually there were the trips elsewhere in the weekend. With the sad result that I actually just spend one day visiting the temples while living in Siem Reap for almost two months. So I decided to do another Angkor trip last Sunday and ofcourse it was well worth it.
The day didn't start very well, because I wanted to see the sunrise, but my tuktuk driver obviously not. Although I did ask him to come and pick me up at 5, he came at 5.
Face at the Bayon
30 on a moto. All very well, but no sunrise for me that day. But that also meant I dodged the crowds for that day. I started at six at the Bayon, which was there for me all alone =). (I'd already seen Angkor Wat and Ta Phrom, so I skipped that). The Bayon seems like a big pile of unimpressive rubble at first, you just have to climb up to the third level to appreciate it. It was magical, with all the faces staring down at you. Makes you feel very, very small. I think I strolled around here for about 45 minutes till an hour. This temple is really a must-see on everyone's list.
Then I had breakfast and explored Angkor Thom somewhat further on foot. It's a great place, especially with the forests around it. Because I was quite early - the crowds were still at Angkor Wat - it was a really quiet site-seeing by myself.
the Bayon temple
I really enjoyed the jungle around the Baphuon, very beautiful. The Baphuon itself is still closed for a renovation, which is quite difficult according to the Lonely Planet, as the Khmer Rouge destroyed most of the papers and maps of this temple. But I can recommend to walk around it, it's a very scenic walk. I am curious about when they're going to open it for public though. From there I walked to the next temple the Phimeanakas, which is small, but somehow mountainlike. And a really nice temple to check out. You can climb on top of it, but the stairs are really steep, so I was quite scared going down. I've become afraid of hights through the years, I don't know why, but it is highly inconvenient. From there I went through the jungle to the Preah Palilay and at some point I thought I got lost. Untill I bumped into this Korean guy, who I saw on a few occasions that morning already, and saw the temple. The last temple I went to was Preah Khan, which is a very beautiful temple, but has more tourgroups around. The tree at the west entrance makes pretty pictures. The children trying to sell their junk to you somewhat less. Preah Khan has also some magic, but it is such a different temple from the Bayon, it's almost all on one level. And there's rubble too =). But I think I like the Bayon more.
So dodge the crowds in the morning and don't go to Angkor Wat first! The Bayon is great at six.