Saturday, January 20, 2018

Dawn over Angkor Wat

Our guide, Saravy picked us up at 4:45am and we made our way with hundreds (thousands?) of others to Angkor Wat to see the temple at sunrise.

We still hadn’t seen Angkor Wat so this promised to be a dramatic introduction.
There was a hum of many voices in the dark.

Angkor Wat is arguably one of the seven wonders of the world. It is also the world’s largest religious temple complex and it is still in use for this purpose.

As the sky starts to lighten, we could see the outline of the five towers. Each tower is shaped like the bud of a lotus flower. Locals are selling coffee to the crowd. I heard many different languages spoken around me.

We had breakfast at the site and then went up into the Wat. We had to stand in line to get into the Bakan (the top of Angkor Wat). The views were awesome but I was very nervous going up and down the steep stairs.

On the way out of the Wat complex we saw some Macau Monkeys. I also stopped at a stall to buy a skirt.

We drove a short distance to the ancient city of Angkor Thom (which coincidentally means big city). This city was built in the late 12th and early 13th centuries. It also housed the King’s Royal palace.

There was only one way to get into the ancient city and it was lined up with traffic. We got out of the car with our guide and walked through, much quicker.

Statues of demons lined one side of the street while gods lined the other all holding onto the Naga (snake) body.

Our first stop was to Bayon Wat. This Buddhist temple had 260 faces within 54 towers...ever get the feeling you’re being watched?

Beautiful Apsara dancers are carved throughout all the temples seen over the last couple of days. The traditional Apsara dances are based on these carvings.

Brides dress as Apsara dancers for their pre-wedding photos.

Our next ancient city stop was another temple dedicated to Shiva called Baphoun Wat. This temple had the steepest steps of all so I hung out at the bottom.

We stopped at what had been the king’s temple built in 910 AD called Phimenon. This Hindu temple (dedicated to Shiva) wasn’t restored so we didn’t go in. All around this area, the jungle seemed to be trying to reclaim its lost territory.

We returned to the car and left the ancient city through the single lane back gate. We passed two smaller temples on the way to the hidden temple, Tai Nei Wat.

This Buddhist, late 12th century temple had been left in almost the same condition as when it was found except for some extra supports. A family of gibbons live around the temple but we didn’t see them.

After lunch, our next temple was Wat Ta Phrom. This late 12th century Buddhist temple was used in Tomb Raiders with Angelina Joli. The jungle was definitely getting a finger hold here with many trees growing right into the temples walls. The chattering of jungle birds was the soundtrack for our visit.

Banteay Keri was the final temple of the day. This was the first Buddhist temple in this area.

I was exhausted so we headed back to the hotel for a rest before heading out for our final night in Cambodia.

We started our night out at our favourite massage place and then went across the street to our favourite Siem Reap restaurant, the Khmer Grill for supper.

I was already tired (because we got up at 4:30am), so we took one last short walk to Pub Street, over the lit up bridge and to the night market.

I’ve attached a few pictures of interesting signs I saw today.

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