Thursday, 3 May 2012

Final days in Cambodia

Our last day of temple exploring was our second to last full day in Cambodia. We had bought a three day pass and this was just right. There was still lots to see, so we'll just have to go back; but we finished wanting to go back rather than feeling "templed out"! We decided that our last temple would be Angkor Wat as so many had said it's the ultimate.
We took the bikes again and would heartily recommend this method of transport. First of all we wanted to go back for a closer look at Bayon in the early morning light.  It really is extraordinary


The temple is on three levels, the first two are square at the base and have a total of 1.2 km of carved bas reliefs, showing everyday life and (everyday) battle scenes. It was hard to get good photos but this gives you an idea- 1.2km! Imagine how long that would take! (Even more reliefs than Angkor Wat which clocks in at "only" just under 1km)

It's the faces on the towers of the third level that make it so bizarrely arresting. On the third level wherever you stand you can see at least 12 faces

This was under exposed and looks bad edited but I had to put it in to give you an idea of the scale! I should've tried a Jayavarman VII smile though!

Angkor Wat was our ultimate stop. It's the sheer scale of Angkor Wat which is so incredible. It's hard to get a photo which captures it. I guess that's why people go up in ugly yellow balloons

View from the upper level of the temple back to the 235m wide porch in the distance, twin libraries are in the middle distance
There are walls within walls within walls

View from the East side (the back)

The fact that the entrance is on the West has led scholars to conclude that this was a Hindu funerary temple for Sryavarman II (1112-1152)

A closer view of the back 
The temple is set in vast park like surroundings
Inside are many colonnades with intricately carved lintels and columns

Old steps are amazing for envisaging centuries of people stepping up.

Tourists of all sorts love to explore "the temple that is a city", which is what Angkor Wat means.

We did take a day to relax and look around Siem Reap, take some time by the pool sipping our final mango shakes and catch up with a family from our church who are working in Siem Reap, but our time finished and before we knew it we were on the bus to Phnom Penh and straight on to the airport. Do hope we can go back to Cambodia before too long. Wonderful ancient monuments; terrible recent history; warm, relaxed and friendly people and delicious food make for a remarkably interesting and moving country to visit.

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