…entre nous soit dit…

between me you and the gatepost.

Cambodia Details (Part 5): The Temples

(Click on the map for a larger version to see detail)

SEIM REAP

THE ANGKOR WAT COMPLEX OF TEMPLES

First off, a few dos and don’ts:

DO:

  • CLOTHING: Wear long shorts to the knees or below (men and women) and wear a t-shirt with sleeves (no singlets). Without these and enclosed shoes, you won’t be able to climb to the topmost section of Angkor Wat – and you may wait for an hour in line before discovering that. 
     
  • Do not wear sandals or thongs (the shoes) if you plan on actually going anywhere other than the entrance gate to each place. These are old stones and very steep stairs so they can be tricky to climb sometimes – thongs don’t help. 
  • Wear a hat if you have one and take lots of sunscreen (obviously).
     
  • Take a lot of water because they will try to rip you of in there and, damn, your going to need it (especially if riding or walking instead of hiring a tuk tuk because it is a huge place.
     
  • If you go for the sunrise (roughly around 6 or 6.30am) then make sure you get there early for a good spot so that you don’t get other photographers in your photos (and if your lucky, one of the plastic chairs – although they may try making you buy coffee if you sit in one).
     
  • If you make it there for sunrise, head straight into Angkor Wat afterwards if your awake enough because that’s it’s quietest time your going to get – everyone else (including all the annoying as hell tourist groups) go off for breakfast and comes back around 9.30am. Although warning, the climb to the centre top doesn’t open until 8.30am (although the men who work there are prone to US$5 bribes – when its usually free – if you get there before there are people waiting)
     
  • Take a camera and hire a driver for the day for around US$14-16 and ask them about the history.
     
  • Enjoy yourself and make others pose for stupid photos (see end of post).

DON’T

  • Don’t make a scene and swear loudly etc.
     
  • Don’t be one of those annoying as all hell tourists that everybody hates.
     
  • Don’t throw your litter on the ground, draw/graffitti on anything, or run the stones – think of how many hundreds of thousands of people go through there every year damaging the place.
     
  • Don’t bother buying one of the history books they try flogging there – they start at US$30 and go down to US$5 but if you look for them before your trip to the temples, there are a couple of free tourist guides found at cafes, restaurants and hotels that give you the history, maps and pictures. If you have a guide (tuk tuk man), ask if they’ve got one you can borrow because they probably do – just give t back at the end of the day.
     
  • Don’t wear a skirt or short shorts and a singlet and expect to be allowed to climb the stairs where everyone is going to be staring at your ass and/or up your skirt. No one wants to see it. Seriously. Even long skirts are bad.

 

The Temples to See

Angkor 

Wat – this is usually the main attraction. Personally I was sort of disappointed in it. yes it’s big, but it wasn’t that amazing and it was almost plain in comparison to some of the others (in terms of architecture and things to climb). I went in 2009/2010 Summer and it was under reconstruction and so there was huge green things over it – so it didn’t even have the big impressive look from far away.

Angkor Thom – This is where we spent most of our time (it involves a number of different temples – see map) and it was more impressive in my opinion although there was construction on some of these ones too. But not noticeably like Angkor Wat.

  • Bayon – This was probably my one of if not my top favourite of all the temples. It’s old, its big, it’s climbable and it has a beautiful falling apart feel to it. It doesn’t feel sterile and like it’s basically had plastic surgery (like Angkor Wat does). You can get some gorgeous photos here as well. Be sure to get one kissing one of the many faces (see me making Mum do it on the right)

  • Baphuon – If I remember correctly, this is the one with construction on the sideways budha face around the back – follow the trail around the side and go see the work being done (and see if you can spot the budha – it took me a couple of minutes to see it was sideways). Because so many of the blocks have fallen down/been taken down methodically, they are scattered around and look pretty. Go to the north west corner (the back right corner) for the best area. There’s a beautiful big twisted tree and it’s where I created the photo where there’s a billion of one person in the same photo (see the end)
     
  • Phimeanakas – You can jump through to this are through one of the archway doors in the wall that runs around the whole area and goes along the side of Baphuon as well. This one was old, and not that big, but it’s kinda pretty if you go all the way to the back where the royal palace area is. 
     
  • Terrace of the Elephants and Terrace of the Lepar King  – Apparently the terrace of the lepar king is nice, but that’s coming from my mother who is a history teacher and likes shallow relief sculptures (which don’t really float my boat)… I wouldn’t know. I was napping in the tuk tuk at this point while Mum had a look. I do remember walking along the terrace of elephants and seeing some crazy elephant sculptures on it though. That’s also where I met this little girl sitting ther with a baby. At first she was all shyly “yes take photo”. It was a good shot. But then she wanted money for it… and she proceeded to follow me for the next five minutes while I shook my head. Classic example of the begging that’s rife in Cambodia.

    

  • Ta Prohm – Now this is the one place that I was so looking forward to seeing. I knew about it and I’d seen pictures of Ta Prohm before I’d ever seen pictures of Angkor Wat. Mostly it draws a crowd because it was used as part of the set for Tomb Raider (staring Angelina Jolie)… but that was before it all basically fell down… Personally I just love the look of the trees and the aged look of the stone combined. I think it’s beautiful. So having built it up in my head, I was extremely disappointed to get there and discover that there was even more construction work going on here than at Angkor Wat. There are whole sections closed off and the rest of it is in rubble piles and a lot of it is held up with wooden supports (they’re not exactly worried about health and safety standards for the tourists there). There were even top parts held together with hockey straps. But don’t get me wrong, the rest of it is still kind of cool in it’s own way and there were a million places to crawl through to which was cool – the further in you go, the less tourists there are. It was relatively more quiet than the other main attractions.
     
  • And as for the other temples… well I can’t really remember which photos go with what name… but I’m pretty sure the other temples we went to were (and I’ll just put some other photos below):
    • Banteay Kdei
    • Ta Keo
    • Pre Rup
    • Ta Som
    • Preah Khan

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The photo to the right is the same place as the photo directly below

These two photos (above and below) of the lion figures are actually in completely different places. They are just common amongst pretty much every single temple there.

SILLY TIMES 🙂

Corner of Baphuon

Gotta love being able to use a timer on cameras these days… Mum just doesn’t know what the Toyota jump is lol

She was supposed to look like she was falling, but Mum’s strong suit definitely isn’t acting.

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May 11, 2010 Posted by | Cambodia/Vietnam Trip, lists, Notes, observation, Travel | Leave a comment