2 days exploring the temples of Cambodia

Discussion in 'Trip Reports' started by savydog, Jun 22, 2011.  |  Print Topic

  1. savydog
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    savydog Gold Member

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    0001 Pan View.jpg
    (Causeway leading to Angkor Wat )

    I recently visited friends in Vietnam, as they were working during the week, I jumped the border over into Cambodia and spent a couple of days there wandering around the temples reclaimed from the Jungle. If you are around that region it is well worth the effort and a few short flights. Truly amazing and just looking over the pictures again today makes me want to head back and explore some more.

    My flight was with Angkor Air which is 49% owned by Vietnam Air which means the flights to Siem Reap do not get discounted much. Being a smaller operator there was the usual joy of a bus out to the plane. The airline is new and so are the planes. They have jets that leave earlier in the day, but I was in no rush to get out of bed and got one of the smaller prop planes that seat around 60 pax. No surprise that the plane was full considering the destination.

    01 Angkor Air.jpg

    02 Plane.jpg

    The flight was enjoyable, a small meal was served by two lovely FA's and by the time clear up was under-way it was time to begin the descent. On approach to Siem Reap a vast lake was in evidence and I learned later that this fills during the rainy season and then empties back into the mekong river as the season changes.

    03 FL1.jpg

    04 FL2.jpg

    05 Meal.jpg
     
  2. Jslo
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    Oh yes! Another great trip report on its way from savy! Love it. Keep it coming!
     
  3. savydog
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    Thanks to advice from MP member Kwai, I already had my eVisa and although one of the last off the plane, I was first out of the airport. For an extra $5, I had no delay as others were digging for cash or filling out forms :) For my stay I had arranged for a local guide to take me around in his car. He came highly recommended and I will add my thumbs up as well. http://theangkorguide.net/index.php Ratanak speaks english well, has a wealth of knowledge of the temples and also when to visit which places to avoid huge crowds. He could also be a photographer if he ever gives up the guide work. As part of my package he was waiting at the Airport to take me to my hotel.

    As I was staying only one night, I went for the luxury option and had booked a room at Raffles Grand Hotel d'Angkor, this place has been around since the 1930's and keeps popping up on lists as one of the top places to stay in Asia. Hard to say no, my tariff was AUD$230 including breakfast and free internet.

    06 Check in.jpg

    07 Check in 2.jpg

    12 Hall.jpg

    13 Stairs.jpg

    The hotel still used the original lift which works with weights and cables, quite a ride.

    14 Lift.jpg

    15 Lift 2.jpg
     
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  4. Chimpy
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    Good start Savy, don't stop now. :)
     
  5. savydog
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    savydog Gold Member

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    The room was great, my only regret was I was asleep much of the time that I was in it. Going from sitting in an office in winter to 35c temps and wandering for hours left me exhausted. The bed was very comfortable and I did enjoy that.

    08 Bed.jpg

    09 Room 1.jpg

    10 Room 2.jpg

    11 Balcony.jpg
     
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  6. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    +1 -- one of the places high up on my to-do list.
     
  7. savydog
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    I was on a pretty tight schedule so after I had got the room organized I applied some 30+ sunscreen and headed back down to the lobby where Ratanak was waiting for me. We took a drive through the streets of Siem Reap and seeing a lot of school children walking around at lunchtime I asked about this. I learned that half the students have school in the mornings and half in the afternoons due to both the number of teachers and the number of children wishing to learn. Later I was to learn that if your not at school you may be out at the temples trying to make a few dollars. Lots of them were selling guide books and postcards.

    My regular readers will know there is something missing in this report so far. I had with me a cooler bag to fill with amber beverages, but was informed by Ratanak that he had an esky in the boot of the car with ice and bottled water and I could put my beer into there and keep it cool. On the way to the temples we called into a local shop and 6 beers were procured for a cost of 70c (USD) each.

    A temple pass is USD$20 per day or three days for $40. I had to get out of the car and have my photo taken and this was printed on my pass which I was told not to loose. I did have to show this pass several times and of course I dropped the thing a couple of times as well, but Ratanak was on the ball and let me know before I had to buy it back from the locals :)

    The beer was good as we drove along in air conditioned comfort, but out of respect and necessity I took only bottled water along with me to visit the actual sites. At 35c quite a lot of bottled water would be needed before the sun went down.

    First up we called in at Prasat Kravan one of the older temples (900AD) and used to worship the god Vishnu.

    16 Prasat Kravan.jpg

    17 Vishnu 1.jpg

    18 Vishnu 2.jpg

    19 Vishnu 3.jpg

    20 Vishnu 4.jpg

    The four forms of Vishnu are represented inside the towers on the walls. I will not go into all of that here, at a stage not long after this temple was built, Buddhism became popular so some temples are devoted to Buddha and others are Hindu and some have been updated to Buddhist ones.
     
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  8. Jslo
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    I've been to Siem Reap once, can't wait to return. Next time it will be in this Raffles! Looks awesome. Keep it coming savy! I just grabbed another icy beer :cool:
     
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  9. savydog
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    We drove on towards Ta Prohm, Ratanak explained that after the rise of the kingdoms here they were invaded by the Thai's and after fighting for many years the temples were abandonded and power was moved further south away from the Thai border to where the rulers would be safe. The jungle took over most of the temples and they were hidden from the world until the french discovered them again around 150 years ago.

    Ta Prohm is the temple that I had been thinking of when I dreamed of coming to this place, the jungle trees have taken over and grown up the sides of buildings, their roots have pushed up floors and toppled walls. Conservation efforts have resulted in some selected trees being removed and then restoration takes place 3 or 4 years later. There is still a lot of work to be done and those entrance fees go towards projects of this type. Of course the tourists love to see the combat zone, so there is a balancing act involved with how far the work goes.

    21 Ta Prohm.jpg

    22 Ta Prohm.jpg

    23 Ta Prohm.jpg

    24 Ta Prohm.jpg

    25 Ta Prohm.jpg
     
  10. savydog
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    savydog Gold Member

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    Amazing trees that can scale the side of walls :) I was surprised to see a young lady carrying two big black pistols but then realised that her boyfriend was posing her in Tomb Raider pictures around the temple. They were having fun anyway.

    26 Ta Prohm.jpg

    27 Ta Prohm.jpg

    28 Ta Prohm.jpg

    29 Ta Prohm.jpg

    This smile has just about been hidden from the world by tree roots :)

    30 Ta Prohm.jpg
     
  11. savydog
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    At many of the temples beautiful dancing ladies could be seen these are the Apsaras

    " Apsaras are beautiful, supernatural women. They are youthful and elegant, and proficient in the art of dancing. They are the wives of the Gandharvas, the court servants of Indra. They dance to the music made by their husbands, usually in the palaces of the gods, and entertain gods and fallen heroes. "

    31 Ta Prohm.jpg

    A library which would have contained Buddhist scrolls.

    32 Ta Prohm.jpg

    33 Ta Prohm.jpg

    34 Ta Prohm.jpg

    35 Ta Prohm.jpg

    This walk has been fully restored to give an idea how things looked before the trees took over :)

    36 Ta Prohm.jpg

     
  12. Mangy
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    Nice report Savy. Good idea to have beers on ice in the car:)

    "Ta Prohm is the temple that I had been thinking of when I dreamed of coming to this place," when you dreamed of coming to this place, I bet you were thinking of Lara Croft - just kidding:)
     
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  13. SQ LPP
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    Bring back memory...
    Thank you for the report and pictures.
     
  14. savydog
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    The next temple we visited was The Baphuon, here we saw the elephant pavilion where kings would watch out over the surrounding field while entertainment was performed for them. There is a 500 metre long walkway from the pavilion back to the temple. We saw a group of monks and followers using this. In the grounds surrounding the temple are hundreds of marked blocks that will one day be restored into outer buildings.

    37 Ta Keo.jpg

    The Elephant Pavilion.

    38 Ta Keo.jpg

    Monks on the long walkway.

    39 Ta Keo.jpg

    Children ponder what to do next after I turn down their sales pitches :)

    40B Ta Keo.jpg
     
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  15. savydog
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    Close by is The Bayon with 39 faces on the temple looking in all directions :) People were worshipping as we walked up the steps. Money has been spent on installing sturdy steps to keep people off the original stone ones.

    41 The Bayon.jpg

    42 The Bayon.jpg

    43 The Bayon.jpg

    44 The Bayon.jpg

    45 The Bayon.jpg
     
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  16. savydog
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    46 The Bayon.jpg

    47 The Bayon.jpg

    48 The Bayon.jpg

    On leaving this temple we drove through the massive gates which allow entry to the Angkor Thom Complex.

    49 Angkor Thom.jpg

    50 Angkor Thom.jpg

    51 Angkor Thom.jpg
     
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  17. savydog
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    Finally we headed over to Angkor Wat for some late afternoon photos. Many children here selling tourist items. One even looked into the car and saw what beer I was drinking and offered to get me the same brand for $1. Great customer service skills. One of the photos I took is at the top of this page. Here are a couple more. The causeway is 300 metres long then you go through gates and the main temple complex is a further 300 metres walk. We would be doing that the next day.

    0002 Pan View.jpg

    52 Angkor Wat.jpg

    We drove back to Siem Reap maybe a 15 minute drive, Ratanak suggested a place for my evening meal and then drove me there to show me where it was in relation to my hotel. It was 2 blocks away. After a quick change I headed out and on dusk the place seemed to be bustling. Lots of places to eat and drink.

    I walked for about half an hour checking the place out and then headed in for my meal and a show of traditional dancing. I think there may have been 10 different dances performed over the night and with my meal the cost was USD$12. Beers were of the tall bottle variety and were $3 each, I had several. There was a good array of food on offer, I did prefer the asian dishes rather than the attempts at western favourites though :)

    53 Koulen Rest.jpg

    54 Koulen Rest.jpg
     
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  18. Chimpy
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    Your photographs are getting better Savy, nice report.:)
     
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  19. savydog
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    The dancing was quite enjoyable, one involved 6 guys and 6 girls dancing with big fish traps and another told a love story which was the usual - boy meet girl - loses girl - gets girl back - but done is a very formalised way while dancing :) After much fun and much beer, I wandered my way past the " good place for drink " touts from the motorcycle taxis and made it back to my room to sleep. Another big day tomorrow.
     
  20. savydog
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  21. savydog
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    The Coconut Dance :)

     
  22. savydog
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  23. Mangy
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  24. canucklehead
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    Great report! Brings back great memories of my trip to Cambodia (and desire to return one day!)

    The reference to the faux Lara Croft reminded me of when I was there (temps were about 35C, maybe more) and there was a photo shoot on site. The model was doing a fur coat ad (!) and every 2 minutes she had to have the shine removed from her sweating face (yum!). It was surreal.

    I went to Angkor Wat 3 times in my visit - full site visit, sunset and sunrise!

    For those who have not gone, I highly recommend Siam Reap.
     
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  25. sobore
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    I was disappointed and felt betrayed with this report until I read this:
    All is well again! :D Great Report!!!
     
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