Temple – hopping in Siem Reap

It’s amazing how bricks and stones can blow your mind away. Can you imagine how creative and skilled people can be, and to what extent two hands are capable of doing?

Last Friday of June, after doing some roundabouts to different provinces here in Cambodia and meeting few distributors, we stayed in Siem Reap for two nights so we can spend a day to the world famous Angkor Wat.

I didn’t know what to expect that weekend.  I know how Angkor Wat looks like from the photos of my friends but little did I know that there can be so much more. If you believe that Angkor Wat is the only temple worth seeing, you’re definitely wrong! There are a LOT of other temples in the area, almost 40+ temples / stone structures if I’m not mistaken. A 1-Day pass will never ever be sufficient to appreciate everything. Sadly though, that’s all we have. Nevertheless, we made most out of it and went to these amazing structures:

Angkor Thom – one of the largest Khmer cities which contain the following structures:

  • Bayon – this was the first temple we went in and got me immediately dumbfounded. Never did I imagine that people can do such amazing stone carvings with very defined features and details. Simply one of my favorites.
54 towers like this with 4-sided face. How cool is that, right?

54 towers like this with 4-sided face. How cool is that, right?

The view from outside. Too many tourists when we came!

The view from outside. Too many tourists when we came!

  • Elephant Terrace – a stage -like stone structure with Elephant reliefs and carvings, hence the name. They say that these was where people were gathered during important celebrations and announcements.
  • Lepper King Terrace – almost the same with the Elephant Terrace but with the carvings of the Lepper King, nagas and deities.
  • Bapuon* – just love the causeway towards the temple. Both sides were previously ponds where there used to be crocodiles to protect the king.
View from afar to Bapuon.

View from afar to Bapuon.

The only shot where I managed to tell people to stop walking first. haha

The only shot where I managed to tell people to stop walking first. haha

  • Tep Pranam – a large seated Buddha where we paid our respect and prayed. We also donated few dollars to the monks and they gave us yarn bracelets for goodluck.
That's one humongous Buddha!!!

That’s one humongous Buddha!!!

After a few chants from the monks, got myself the lucky string bracelet.

After a few chants from the monks, got myself the lucky string bracelet.

  • Suor Prat Towers* – on our way to Ta Prohm, we passed by 12 identical stone towers lined up symmetrically on either side of the road (6 towers each). They said that these were built for the 12 daughters (or women) of the king.

Thommanon – a small temple we’ve passed by before we go to Ta Prohm. Directly across it is a similar structure known as Chao Say Tevoda. Most people think that the two structures were built together but based on history the former was built at the start of the reign of the king, while the latter’s toward the end.

Among the less visited temples (photo from Ms. Tess)

Among the less visited temples.

Few people means more time for solo shots :)

Few people means more time for solo shots :)

Temple - chilling with Ms. Tess! :D

Temple – chilling with Ms. Tess! :D

Ta Keo* – the known “temple mountain”. Supposed to be a good place to see but due to some constructions in the area, we opt not to go down and check the place. I hope the restorations will be done soon as it really makes everything less appealing.

Ta Prohm – among my favorites. I just love seeing huge trees, especially their roots, enclosing stone structures. These trees may have been more than a hundred thousand years!

On our way inside the temple.

On our way inside the temple.

The famous Tomb Raider passage! :P

The famous Tomb Raider passage! :P

See how huge the roots are?

See how huge the roots are?

The hidden Aspara.

The hidden Apsara.

Angkor Wat – The entrance itself is already breathtaking! The whole Angkor Wat is surrounded by a huge lake on all its four sides. You need to cross the stone causeway to reach the gate, and from the gate, another 1KM or so to reach the actual temple. The entire place is huge! And take note of the 2000 apsaras carved in each of the walls. No wonder it took them 30 years to build this beauty!

Cooling off outside Angkor Wat (photo from Ms. Tess)

Cooling off outside Angkor Wat

This should have been more beautiful if this was taken during sunrise/ sunset.

This should have been more beautiful if this was taken during sunrise/ sunset.

With the real - life Angkor Wat! I can cry now! (photo from Ms. Tess)

With the real – life Angkor Wat! I can cry now!

Used to be the stairs up the temple.

Used to be the stairs up the temple.

One of the five towers in the temple!

One of the five towers.

Among the stone wall carvings inside the temple.

Among the stone wall carvings.

The great Vishnu to whom the Angkor Wat was dedicated.

The great Vishnu to whom the Angkor Wat was dedicated.

The only known smiling apsara with teeth haha! :) (photo from Ms. Tess)

The only known smiling apsara with teeth haha! :)

[Note:  (*) – seen the outside only.]

I may not have great shots to show (since most of my photos are just from my iPhone4 camera or copied from Ms Tess) but my eyes had seen so much more. If mental images can be shared, I would have done so. If given the opportunity, I would love to go back to this place. For one, I haven’t tried riding the elephant because of the cut -off. Second, there are still 30+ temples I haven’t seen. Third, I would love to stare at each wall carvings and stone reliefs for a few minutes to truly appreciate every story behind it. It is a whole lot better to appreciate things when it is in front of you than appreciate it later from a screen.

That's my "I'm scared" smile right there.

That’s my “I’m scared” smile right there.

The whole team - Ms. Tess, Sopha (our tour guide), Sir Tonio an

The whole team – Ms. Tess, Sopha (our tour guide), Sir Tonio and Kyhong

I like history. I love old structures. I find beauty in broken things. I appreciate the hard work and the time spent to create such wonders. I hope that when you plan your next trip you will consider this place. It would be better to go now as you might not be able to see the “original” structures in few more years because of all the restorations.  Just remember to bring a hat or umbrella to protect yourself from the heat. :)

My haggard-yet-fulfilled-look after the entire trip. (photo from Ms. Tess)

My haggard-yet-fulfilled-look after the entire trip.

For reference, here are the day pass rates:

  • 1- Day Pass – $20
  • 3- Day Pass – $40
  • 7- Day Pass – $60

Visiting hours are from 5:00AM – 6:00 PM. Your picture will be taken and printed in the pass. Make sure you’ll always carry it as they check it before you go inside each temple.

Happy temple-hopping!  That’s it for now.

<3 lots, Irene

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