Thursday, April 3, 2014

Temple Run in Angkor

Just posting some oldish vacation photos to fill the vast void of my blog.

Angkor Wat was a dream. I've been curious about it since I saw its photos in the encyclopedia. I went to Siem Reap on May 2012 with my good pagan friend Aldrin of the House of Two Trees. It was my first non-solo trip out of the country. Cebu Pacific just opened a direct flight to Cambodia and we were lucky to book tickets at the promo price. Being both francophiles we chose to stay in a hotel called "Terrasse des Élephants", which was absolutely gorgeous.

All in all, we visited nine architectural sites in the Angkor area. I was hoping to visit ten but the last one on the itinerary, Banteay Srei, was too far from and there wasn't enough time to get there according to our tuktuk driver/guide Adam. It didn't matter since we were all too templed-out anyway on our last day. We didn't do just temples though. Between temple running (more like temple-crawling actually), we managed to explore the quaint village of Siem Reap where we had a foot massage and fish massage, ate insects, haggled with shop owners, watched a cultural show, got touted at by ugly lady boys, got spooked by an old drunken lady, and had a fight with a waitress who didn't want to accept my dollar bill (okay, that was just me).

Angkor Thom
The capital city of the ancient Khmer empire. I had eyegasm as soon as I saw the looming gate from the tuk-tuk. The complex was actually too huge, we just explored the area in and around the royal enclosure (Phimeanakas) and the pyramid temple Baphuon.


The moat to the sacred city

A large temple located inside Angkor Thom. It's defining feature is the large, creepy, smiling faces of Jayavarman VII scattered around the walls. It must have been so beautiful on its heyday.

Angkor Wat
After having lunch at KFC, we had the entire afternoon to explore the large complex. There were plenty of tourists but it was so huge sometimes we found ourselves walking through empty halls. My gods, this whole structure is unbelievable.


In the inner cloister

Prasat Kravan
First stop on the second day of temple running. A small temple older than Angkor Wat (built in the 10th century) consisting of five reddish brick towers. It seems to be dedicated to the god Vishnu.

Vishnu riding on the garuda.

Banteay Kdei
In front of the artificial lake called Srah Srang (the royal bath) is Banteay Kdei (the citadel of monks). I think this was the temple I had most fun exploring. There was actually a Buddhist monk inside guiding those who wish to make offerings and prayers to the Buddha. Here is also where I bought a water color painting of Angkor Wat made by a young artist. I also bought a ganesh murti from a vendor just outside the complex.

A nun putting a red thread on my wrist after puja.

Ta Prohm
The so-called "Tomb Raider" temple. Giant trees with their roots destroying parts of the temple like snakes coiling on their prey. It would have been more impressive it weren't for the large mass of tourists here.

Ta Keo
An huge temple mountain and a challenge for my fear of heights. It felt like an eternity to climb to the top. We were the only tourists when we reached the top of the temple. A strong rain suddenly began to pour and Aldrin and I had to go separate ways to find cover. Each of us found ourselves in a small crypt-like chamber where we had to wait out the rain alone for several minutes. It was a pretty calming experience actually. How often do you get stuck in the rain in a thousand-year old temple? As soon as we made our way back to our tuk-tuk, our guide told us that the temple was actually dedicated to Shiva and is also called the Temple of Lightning. Hmm, looks like Shiva was trying to impress a couple of pagans.

As you can see, the top of the temple is higher than the canopy of trees.

Preah Khan
Also called The Temple of Sword. What I liked most about it is the serenity. There were quite a few tourists coming here so there were a couple of times when it seems like we had the place all to ourselves.

Around Siem Reap

Watching a Khmer cultural show over buffet.

Exploring Wat Bo, one of the still active Buddhist temples in the city.

Spicy fried crickets, anyone? I was really hoping to find deep-fried tarantulas. They say they taste like crab.

The hotel
Our lodging in the city, "Terrasse des Eléphants". Would have been perfect if it weren't for the door-less, wall-less shower "room".

Pool at the rooftop.


Anonymous said...

I can feel the surge of beautiful memories run through me. Kinikilig ako. Siem Reap was an experience I shall never, ever forget.

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