Monday, December 17, 2012

Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat is everything I hoped it would be*, and so much more.

*Except there are no statues that come alive and fight you like in Tomb Raider... I can't say I'm disappointed exactly, since I didn't bring my semi-automatic pistols to fight them off, but I was kind of hoping...
Yeah it's kind of AWESOME.
Seriously though, this whole area is gorgeous. It's some of the most heavily forested area in Cambodia (said a tour guide) so there are monkeys, tons of birds, and beautiful ruins of Buddhist and Hindu temples scattered around the area. Angkor Wat is the most iconic, but there are dozens of other temples within biking distance. We woke up at 5am to bike to sunrise at Angkor Wat - you can see the towers behind me to the left. GORGEOUS!

Sunrise at Angkor Wat
Courtyard in Angkor Wat as the sun rose

This post is mostly going to be photos since they speak for themselves. I met up with a group of Americans who are traveling after studying abroad in China, and we biked around the whole complex for about 8 hours yesterday. I biked another 10-15 km today to see more temples, and I still have one day left on my pass... maybe I'll be back for thirds! I still haven't seen even close to everything Siem Reap and Angkor Wat have to offer.

My trusty steed
The intact carvings are so beautiful!

Most of the temples are in various states of disrepair or ruin. The temples were largely abandoned or actively destroyed in the 12th and 13th century, when the kings of the Khmer & their conquerors stopped supporting Buddhism and Hinduism in turn and destroyed many religious relics out of spite.  Most restoration has only been in the last 20 years and is progressing slowly, but it's a World Heritage Site so hopefully UNESCO and other private organizations can keep up the good work. These sites are too significant to be lost!

Ruins at Prah Khan
A MONKEY! I'll spare you the photo of it sticking its butt at me...
Baphuon Temple
Sleeping Buddha - can you see the face on the left side? 
You can lead a horse to Angkor Wat(er). The end.
 There were smaller temples scattered around the area as well, and being on a bike made it very easy to stop off and explore whenever we saw something between the trees.

Max checking the map...
Stone faces at Bayon Temple
All the temples had Buddha offerings and incense. Very beautiful!

Fig trees have overgrown some of the temples, like Ta Prohm

This is what existed in between temples. Beautiful grass and skinny cows.

Tomorrow I go to Battambang for a day or two - I've heard it's gorgeous and am very excited to see for myself!

1 comment:

  1. Woah- I just found your blog by googling Angkor Wat images! Also- I think we were touring Cambodia around the same time- crazy! I was there last Christmas.