Thursday, October 23, 2008

Cambodia . Angkor

Lara Croft, step aside, I'm into town.

"The ruins of Angkor are located amid forests and farmland to the north of the Great Lake (Tonle Sap) and south of the Kulen Hills, near modern day Siem Reap (13°24'N, 103°51'E), and are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The temples of the Angkor area number over one thousand, ranging in scale from nondescript piles of brick rubble scattered through rice fields to the magnificent Angkor Wat, said to be the world's largest single religious monument. Many of the temples at Angkor have been restored, and together they comprise the most significant site of Khmer architecture."

Siem Reap is the main city, just 7 km away from the main entrance to the Angkor area. We arrived there after Phom Phen and decided to make the longest stop there. That means 4 nights.
A busy little town that become over night highly touristic, were the tourists roads are blocked for motor traffic in the night hours so no tuktuk smashes an another tired and drunk tourist.
The town itself is not of much interest after you got a hotel, u have a full belly and u already rented a bike.

Now, besides visiting the ancient temples, you find yourself in this town with a new hobby. Dodging children.
I mean, when 7 year Drea comes carrying a dozen of books in her back and wants to sell it to you with the puppy eyes technique its pretty hard to not buy one(of course the books are cheap copies of Lonely Planet Guides!) . Or 8 years old Tevy holding his 3 year old brother Kiri and begs for money its hard to chew the nice food that was put in front of you. On the other side you dont want to support this way of life, or the people behind this kids half or full beggining. On the other side... they are kids!!!! But if you give the candies they will throw with them after you and yell "I waaaa dollaaa'!!!". And after such an episode any child with puppy eyes just doesn't soften my sould anymore (plus I dont naturally like kids) but in exchange ar regard his as a arch enemy that just wants to spoil my nice pretty Lara Croft holiday. Now, I wouldn't go as far as Pedro went calling me "kids killa'" but I could say I was sometimes quite sharp and clear in my refusal to buy any of the shit they were insisting we should buy.

The entry of the Angkor area was around 40$ for 3 days, which at the beginning seems quite a lot for Cambodia. But you realize just sortly after you step on the first temple stone that you would pay much more even only to revisit. As advised by Lonely planned, we hired bikes for fun, independency and self ecological reasurance, and we started on the first day with the main attraction:
Ankgor Wat, heading after to Phnom Bakheng and finishing in the same day with most of the Angkor Thom: Bayon (can I live there????) Terrace of Elephans, Terrace of the Leper King, Baphijon Royal Palace and finishing with the Preah Palilay. The second day we decided to use also the bike and visit some more of track teples (well everything is on the touristic trail at the end) and among the tempels we visited were: Sras Srang, Banteay Kdei, Ta Phrom, Pre Rup and ta Keo. Third day we had to find a tuk tuk, to be sure we cover everything as was out last day. Banteay Srei and Neap Poan where the highlights but at the end of this 3 days some temples started to look the same.

Geez, I really dont know where to grab this post. There is so much to tell about it.

So, Im gonna do it my way, and not the Lonely planet way.

For a certain reason (See later post Phom Phen) I stuck on the idea to ride an Elephant. And not just anywere but I wanted to climb the little mountain on which the Temple Phnon Bakheng is placed like the ancient khmers, on the back on an elephant (and not half naked as you might thing. Sadly the elephnas were not around when I got there and luckly my mind was so bewildered with the sitesof Angkor Wat (main attraction but must add would be a huge loss if you dont go further as the others temples are maybe smaller but so special.)

Gosh, I really can get myself to tell a nice flowing story.

So I kind of let the pictures do it for me.

First Angkor Wat.
It appears not necessarily from the jungle but from the different shacks that sell you food, drinks and local artwork (same same everywere). After you dodge the water, books and bracelet selling kids (believe me thats quite a dodge, as sometimes dodging a bullet might seem eassier) and you step on the channel stone crossing bridge you wake up in an Tomb Raider/Indiana Jones movie. You forget all the hunger for knowledge and licrary culture and you just want to jump from stone to stone and find secret doors. After of couple of hour of snapping photos and thinking which stone might have the best grip to get to the next level (well, of course there are stairs which can comfortably serve the purpose) you cross the crumbling bridge back. And you just want to get it and do the jumping all over again.

Angkor Tom which translates with "Great Capital" is a whole city surrounded by a wall and a wide moat.
One of the most impressing sites are the gates that appear out of nowere. Huge smilling faces facing the cardinal points. The gates are guarded by 5 headed Nagas and a row of soldiers holding the body of the giant snake. In the center of the city other faces (Bayon temple) misteriously smilling towers are welcoming u in to get lost in its long shaded corridors and small court yards.
missing pictures

Terrace of the Elephans (was the closest I got to an elephantus in this land FAMOUS FOR ELEPHANTS!!!)
missing pictures
Secluded Preah Palilay.
This was the last temple we visited, and was somewhere hidden in the Capital City. As it is much more of an elevated shire on top of which several trees decided to grow, there were not so much tourists, and was the first time we started to feel like early discoverers of forgotten civilizations.
missing pictures

As I am still missing half of the pictures from Angkor, and as I didn't sort them on the temples and mementos. Thats why I'm just gonna drop them here to be sure I convince you to put Angkor on your traveling agenda.

After 4 nights full of dreams of giant stone Buddhas fighting we left Siem Reap behind from its fancy small airport.
The airport tax (payed at a counter) was more then a one day ticket pass in Angkor. How logical is that?

asian tour . end of part 2 of 9

1 comment:

.lulu said...

so that means your back home..thanx 4 the postcard...and welcome home...i guess...