Thursday, March 25, 2010

Missed the sunset

(The South Gate of the Angkor Thom complex)

How happy was I that my bus arrived in Siem Reap yesterday morning at 7:30am instead of 4:15am? Really happy. By then, all of Cambodia had been up for a couple of hours and it was easy to find accommodations. I'm at Green Town Guesthouse where my room doesn't have a window, but it does have it's own bathroom, free internet/billiards/nightly movies, and is really close to all of the temples for $5/night.

Speaking of temples, you did know that it's the Temples (plural, with an 's') of Angkor Wat, didn't you? If you're like me, you didn't know this and I only figured it out a couple of weeks ago when I really started to look through the LP guide. By my count, there are upwards of 70+ temples in the area. It would take you weeks to really see them all.

My tuk-tuk driver from the bus station to the guesthouse was nice and spoke good English, so I arranged for him to be my driver for the day ($12). I showered, ate breakfast, and met up with Rawy and his motorbike to begin our tour. I had it all planned out - I wanted to start with temples in the Roulos group, the oldest temples in the area, to give some chronological perspective to things. From there I wanted to see a couple of the larger temples on what is referred to as the big circuit, finishing up at Pre Rup, supposedly a good spot to watch the sun set.

It's hard to explain what I was thinking and feeling as I was exploring the various temples. Those in the Roulos group - Preah Ko, Bakong, and Lo Lei (these are just the ones I saw, there are many more) - date from the late 9th century and are crumbling into a state of disrepair. Although they're not nearly as old as the pyramids, I found myself thinking similar thoughts. "Wow. Hundreds of years ago, people just like me though they're now long dead, built these temples with their hands. Amazing. How did they do it?" You know, that kind of thing.

(Tree overtaking part of the wall enclosure at Ta Som)

After the Roulos group, it was a 15km ride back to town to see Preah Khan, Preah Neak Pean, Ta Som, East Mebon, and Pre Rup. A number of these are literally being taken over by the surrounding jungle. In fact, if you've ever seen the movie Tomb Raider, you should have an idea of what I'm describing; parts of it were filmed at Preah Khan. Preah Khan turned out to be my favorite temple of the day. It was a massive maze of enclosures within enclosures, pieces in ruins, and jungle encroaching. At times I was torn between taking pictures of everything I saw and not even bothering to try, simply sitting down and letting it all soak in. I'm afraid I'm not doing it any justice at all, so when all of my pictures are finally uploaded (over 100 yesterday alone), you'll have to go take a peek and see for yourself (although I'm equally afraid that my pictures don't do it justice either).

Although Rawy and I breaked for lunch, our timing for sunset was still off. We arrived at Pre Rup at about 4pm, a good hour and a half to two before the sun would begin its descent. I wandered a bit, snapping pictures, and even sat at the top of the western side of the temple to await the sun set, but after about 45 minutes I admitted defeat. After little sleep on the night bus the night before and a very full day of sight seeing, I was exhausted. And in desperate need of a cold shower! There was a break from the heat in Sihanoukville (notice the lack of complaints, lol?), but it's back in full force in Siem Reap, and I was covered in sweat (and grime, since every time the wind blew, the dust stuck to my sweaty skin).

Last night was Rhian and Marina's last day in Siem Reap and I had hoped to meet up with them before they head back to BKK, but I had energy enough to watch a movie and that's about it. Hopefully the three of us will catch up again in Australia in a couple months. Today I woke to find that it had rained overnight and the day is much cooler, at least so far; it's still early and that could change. Now, today would be the day for more comfortable temple viewing, but I decided yesterday that it would be an off day. (It's $40 for a three-days-in-one-week pass to the Angkor temples and I figured I'd do them every other day so that I don't get templed out.) Instead I will try to catch up on picture uploading (the connection is painfully slow) and go to the markets later to buy a couple much needed t-shirt replacements.


  1. "Templed out"? LOL. I don't know why that struck me so funny, but it did.

    Pictures almost never do justice to a place that has so much mythical energy. Mainly because it's so hard to put your finger on what really moved you. The sights? The sounds? The knowledge of the place? The way the light hit the stone? Or some crazy combination of all of the above? Knowing that it moved you, however, tells me it was all pretty impressive. I look forward to seeing the pics. Love ya!

  2. I absolutely love the picture of the tree eating the wall.

  3. love the pic of your passport. very European Vacation. ;)