Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Dr Jones and Lara Croft take on Angkor Wat (with a guide of course)

Our tuk tuk driver, Mr Sith, insists that watching the sunrise at Angkor Wat is a must... so we wake at 4:30 and meet him and our guide, Mr Khem. It is early but already hot and humid. Mr Khem is a Seim Reap native and only lived away to finish his studies in archaeology... we tell him we will call him Dr Jones and he laughs shyly but smiles proudly. He is a good guide and steers us away from the crowds as best as possible. We watch the sunrise and it is beautiful, peaceful, and we see why this temple is so special to Cambodians. After the throngs of tourists interested only on ticking the sunrise box leave, we head inside. 2 solid hours of purposeful wandering through the galleries exploring the inticate hand carved reliefs and learning the history of the temple that is dedicated to Hinduism and we barely scratch the surface. Our final mission is to climb the very steep stairs to the inner temple, the views are breathtaking!
We leave Ankgor Wat and eat breakfast... it is only 9 am! The rest if the day is spent in and out of temples. There are about 400 temples in various states of repair in the complex. Many are only traces of foundation or less. Again we only barely scratch the surface.
My favourite is probably the Ta Prohm or Tomb Raider temple. Not because of the movie but because you can see the power of mother nature. 400 year old trees have slowly but surely undone most of man's work for the 12th century. The tree roots look like magnificent works of art and the bark is silver in the sunlight. I could spend an entire day here and not see it all. We can only hope some of our pictures do it justice!
Today we are heading to Banteay Srei or The Citadel of Women. No guide, just the intrepid travellers and our dependable tuk tuk driver, Mr Sith!
Pictures: Angkor Wat at sunrise, CK and Mr Khem, and The Bayon faces.

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