Sunday, March 28, 2010

More temples (and a side of shopping)

I did end up seeing some temples on Saturday after all, they just weren't at sunrise. Ta Prohm, the first of the day, is the least restored of all the temples I've seen so far. The jungle is very literally taking over; there are a lot more trees eating walls and piles of ruins everywhere. It was built in the late 12th and early 13th centuries, but then was neglected for hundreds of years after the fall of the Khmer Empire. Walking around, you get the impression that man first tamed the jungle by building this massive temple, but that now the jungle is reclaiming what land was once it's own. Ta Prohm was thisclose to being named my favorite of the day, but it's one of the more popular temples so it was fairly overrun with tourists and was kind of Disneyfied (boardwalks leading the way and sections that practically screamed "this is a good spot to take your pictures!"). 

Instead the honor went to Ta Keo, even though I almost didn't make it out alive. Ta Keo was cool because it's essentially a five-tier pyramid. Standing at the base, you can't tell just how tall the temple is, but I later found out that it's 45m (about 150 feet, or the height of a 15 story building). The stairs leading to each of the tiers is nearly straight up. It's more like climbing a ladder than walking up a staircase. And the temple is more than a thousand years old, so a lot of the stairs are worn and not in great shape. All of this is to say that the height was particularly dizzying when it came time to come back down. I'm only afraid of heights when there's a chance I can fall (when I'm not supposed to as opposed to bungee jumping or sky-diving when you are supposed to; that, I think I could handle) and with my clumsiness and the condition of the stairs, that was a very real possibility. I took my time - and lots of big, calming breaths! - along the way and I eventually made it.

By comparison, Phnom Bakheng was the least interesting temple. I'm almost glad that I missed the sunrise because this is the temple I would have seen it from. If Ta Prohm was the least restored temple, Phnom Bakheng is the most restored. Well, it's the most in process of restoration anyway. One neat thing about this one is that you can see destruction, preservation, and restoration all happening at the same time.

After a shower and dinner I went to the Night Market. I hadn't intended to buy anything, but I was just in such a good mood that I couldn't help it. :-) Nothing for me, actually, just a few souvenirs. It was one of the more pleasant night markets I've been to: things were fairly priced so you didn't have to do a lot of bargaining, the stalls were laid out nicely, and the vendors were friendly and not pushy.

Today is a lazy day, intended for playing catch up on email and picture uploading (everything's up! go check it out!) before my last temple day tomorrow. I am getting VERY excited about finally seeing Angkor Wat!


  1. Wow. All of the temple pictures are very interesting. The trees eating the walls are sort of surreal and creepy. Your photographic eye continues to impress. The depth you get to your pictures is very good. Have fun in Angkor Wat! Love ya.

  2. Izic was with me when I read this post. We were very pleased with the pic. So we went wandering through your photos until we found the rest of the tree. What a beautiful plant. He also mentioned he like to video chat with you. So maybe the time after next? :)

  3. ToadMama - I'm glad you think my photos are impressive. I know I've said it before, but that mean a lot to me coming from you.

    Aja - Glad you and Z liked the pic. :-) Of course, let's set up a video call for the three of us just as soon as you and I finish up one first. We'll shoot for sometime in the day few days.