Thursday, 31 May 2012

Angkor Wat, Cambodia

We are on the bus heading for Vietnam after our week long sprint across Cambodia. We have got just four weeks left in our trip so decided to spend one week in Cambodia then three in Vietnam. We are desperately craving the sea so travelling along the coast of Vietnam is all to appealing to us right now!

Because of our short stay in Cambodia our visit was confined to the tourist hubs of Siem Reap and Phnom Penh. Siem Reap was our first stop. We were in shock as we arrived in the town as there were tourists EVERYWHERE! They even have a long road called Pub street which is dedicated to western restaurants and well, pubs! It was a huge contrast to India where we had been just a few days earlier when you could literally go for days without seeing one westerner.

Our main reason for visiting Siemp Reap was to see Angkor Wat. Dubbed the 8th wonder of the world, the Wat is one of the most iconic structures in S.E Asia. We left in our tuktuk at 4.45am to catch the sunrise. After a half our drive we arrived in the grounds where our tickets were issued (a hefty $20 each!).

The grounds are huge so after another drive of about 15mins we reached the entrance to Angkor. We joined our fellow early risers and walked up a long path towards the entrance gate. Like the Taj, the building hides behind a huge gated wall, allowing the suspense to escalate as you walk towards it, eager for a glimpse beyond.

We walked through the gate and were met with an enormous black silhouette in the navy blue sky. We walked up another long path towards it, stopping at the lake in front to watch the sky change. First it cracked a warm orange, then pink with unearthly vibrant aqua hues. It was an unbelievable sight to behold.

There were hundreds of people there snapping away so we decided to sneak off into the temple before the crowd dispersed. We walked a little further and found ourselves to be the only people in the Wat. It was surreal. So quiet and still a little dark as the sun slowly crept into the sky. Long corridors with high pillars and decorative stonework stretched as far as my eye could see. Iconic turrets stretching into the sky.

We spent about two hours exploring Angkor in awe of the colossal work accomplished so long ago. We stood outside and watched the dark stone gradually and miraculously turn gold as the sun worked its magic across the temple.


I especially loved the ancient carvings of women in the stone, the bodies crumbling but unwilling to be forgotten forever.

There are lots of temples in the park. Next we went to Angkor Thom where we explored the Bayon and Baphuon temples, the terrace of elephants and the terrace of the leper king. All individual in style and design and offering their own little quirks.

After three hours of exploring we were starting to bake in the heat and temple fatigue was beginning to set in! We stopped for a terribly overpriced breakfast before setting off to see the final temple Ta Prohm. This is the most iconic temple after Angkor Wat and I was incredibly excited to see it. As we walked towards the temple we met some of the tallest trees I have ever seen in my life. I hadn't even seen the temple yet and was in awe!

As we approached and went into the Wat we were greeted with a marvellous stone structure which twists and turns in many different passages. Most importantly, it also houses the gigantic trees which have managed to become one with their neighbours! The trees have grown through the buildings, their roots delicately sprawling along the outside walls guarding the monument from intruders.

We have seen our fair share of temples throughout Thailand, Malaysia, Nepal and India so it takes a lot to really be impressed by any structure now. I know it probably sounds really ignorant to say that but they just become a bit common?! I have to say, Angkor Wat was one of the best, it was just pure magic!

No comments:

Post a Comment