Thoroughly exhausted from our 13 hours of ruins yesterday, we left a bit later today, at 7:30. Today we saw the major sights. We began at Angkor Wat. I was glad we didn’t attempt the sunrise again, because this morning was overcast as well. There were still a million people there though, as Angkor Wat is the most famous attraction in Angkor. There were so many people, I even met someone I know from home. Traveling, we haven’t met anyone coincidentally for over 7 months, so I was pretty surprised when I heard someone say, “Matt Shibata?!” Anyways, we spent several hours exploring Angkor Wat. It is a large walled temple, set within the grassy grounds of a larger outer wall, which in turn is surrounded by a wide moat. Everything about the place is impressive, from the reliefwork on all the exterior walls to the inscriptions to the sheer size and scale of the place. I can’t even attempt to describe its grandeur. The highlight for me were the hundreds of meters of baas reliefs carved on the hallway walls of the temple. All the way around, they depicted Hindu mythology, Buddhist stories, as well as actual historical events. It was absolutely amazing, although again, photos do it absolutely no justice.
our transport the past couple of days
an interesting shot w/ a deep depth-of-field showing several walls at Angkor Wat
closeup of just a few inches of the reliefs at Angkor Wat
the reliefs tell continuous stories for hundreds of meters
Big huge architecture was somewhat impressive too
From Angkor Wat, we drove to the center of massive Angkor Thom to Bayon. Most famous for its hundred-plus meters of intricate baas relief and 216 gigantic faces, Bayon was very impressive. Dozens of towers surround a central one and nearly every tower has a half dozen large faces (supposedly king Jayavarman VII). Joylani enjoyed seeing everyday scenes on the relief walls, like women grilling meat and seeing Khmer depictions of Chinese immigrants. From Bayon, we walked to nearby Baphuon, a large pyramidal temple, although it was closed for restoration so I don’t know much more about it. After lunch, we perused the impressive Terrace of Elephants, which is basically a large wall with relief-work decorating the sides and elephant statues “guarding” the stairways leading to the top of the wall.
Bayon, a central temple with 216 faces of the king
Joylani with one of the 216 huge faces
dozens of meters of reliefs here too
We then drove to a myriad of other temples, but after seeing so much in the morning, we were kind of temple and ruined out by this afternoon. The two worth mentioning were Ta Keo, just because it was a super high temple and it was super scary climbing up and back down the gigantic stone steps- think ladder instead of stairs. Although never completed, I’d say it achieved its purpose of representing mythical Mt. Meru. The other notable was the famous Ta Prohm, of Tomb Raider fame. It’s the counterpart to my favorite of yesterday, Preah Khan, as King Jayavarman VII dedicated this similar temple to his mother (Preah Khan was dedicated to his father). It is a highlight for many visitors, but Ta Prohm was just ruins without the artistic remnants of many other temples. Crumbling structures, fallen walls, and a tree growing out of the building that people stand in line to take a photo with. Although less than the 13 hours we spent seeing the ruins yesterday, we were still out exploring for 9 hours today. Additionally, it was probably about the same amount of walking and climbing, as we drove a lot less today. Regardless we are beat. Everything we’ve seen has been amazing though.
Joylani with the elephants at Terrace of the Elephants
Ta Prohm is all ruins…
Ta Keo- tall, never-completed, and interesting
saw so many temples today, I forgot where this is…but like almost everything we saw, its cool