Mar 2, 2014

CAMBODIA : Charmed by the Temples of ANGKOR (Part 1)

Witnessing up-close the temples of ANGKOR felt surreal, am I really here? It seemed like I time traveled while watching a NAT GEO documentary :). It's an awesome sight knowing that Khmers built this UNESCO World Heritage archaeological wonder when the term technology was still unheard of. The ANGKOR is a true testament that an exceptional civilization existed during the 9th to the 15th century of the Khmer Empire

Our first day in Siem Reap, started before the break of dawn, hoping to catch the burst of colors as the sun rises at the ANGKOR WAT Temples. Our booked tuktuk ride was outside the hotel by 4:30am waiting to fetch us and brought to these massive ANGKOR Complex stretching over some 400 sq km and consists of some hundreds of temples and monuments, hydraulic structures and ancient urban plans. Among the famous temples that we planned to visit are the Angkor Wat, the Bayon, and Ta Prohm.


It was still dark when we got there but a lot of people with their cameras and flashlights have already positioned themselves in front of the lake, some with their tripods. I just looked for a spot at the back and tiptoed to get a clear shot without all the heads popping out on my frame. But the thick clouds hovering around the area hindered the sun to show its majesty as it rises, nonetheless as the Angkor temple slowly appeared into sight at the break of dawn,  the splendor of the ancient monument awed us into silence.

Getting there, we have to secure an entry pass. A one day entry around the ANGKOR Complex costs 20USD. Get your smiles ready as the camera flashes, your ID will be ready in a few seconds.
little Khmers trying to make a living
After exhausting our camera's shutter, we headed to the eating area and indulged on the packed breakfast that our hotel prepared for us that morning. Some kids tagged along us selling persistently their postcards which initially costs 1USD a piece and eventually became 10 pcs for 1USD. We're surprised how the kids can speak good English coupled with a very sweet accent. Eventually we all bought from them, how can you resist that :)

On board the tuktuk we headed to the BAYON Temple after our breakfast at the Angkor Wat. We will return there before the sun sets to explore the place and hopefully get the chance to see its beauty when the hues of sunset enveloped the Angkor Wat.


Angkor Thom is the last capital city of the Angkorian Empire. King Jayavarman VII upon recapturing this area from the Cham invaders started building massive structures inside this 3 sqkm walled royal city including his state temple, the Bayon. 

The BAYON Temple

The Bayon temple at the Angkor Thom Complex was the last temple built at the Angkor, a shrine dedicated to Buddhism. This temple appealed to me the most among the temples we visited that day because of the impressive clusters of towers of serene looking stone faces which according to my research has strong resemblance to the features of King Jayavarman VII.

monks at the Bayon
visiting monks

smiling faces at the Bayon
that smiling face!

The Bayon Temple
view from the road

The Bayon, Angkor Thom
elephant ride at the east area of the Bayon temple
The Bayon, Angkor Thom
there'll be lots of walks and some steep climbs while checking out the huge Angkor Thom Complex
The Bayon, Angkor Thom

Terrace of the Elephant, Angkor Thom
The Terrace of the Elephant is usually where the King would view his returning victorious army. It's also the platform used by him for grand ceremonies 
Terrace of the Elephant, Angkor Thom
This is the king's view standing at the base of Terrace of the Elephants. 

Terrace of the Leper King, Angkor Thom
This is called Terrace of the Leper King because it's reminiscent of  a Cambodian legend who had leprosy. It's also believed that the U-shaped  structure was a royal cremation site.

Now famish and dehydrated but still feeling excited, we left the Angkor Thom complex after checking the Terrace of the Leper King. Lunch is next on the agenda before heading to TA PROHM, the temple made more famous by the movie Tomb Raider. Please stay tuned for my Part 2 of CAMBODIA : Charmed by the Temples of ANGKOR very soon. 

You can now read Part 2 : CAMBODIA : Charmed by the Temples of ANGKOR

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