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Published: October 27th 2017
City of Temples : this is Angkor Wat the largest religious structure in the world and covering about 400sq km . Many temples were built by Khmer kings here around 12 th century. So it was up at 4 am and at the visitors centre for tickets as soon as it opened ..we got 3 day tickets and you have to have your photo taken for that and make sure you don’t lose it as everywhere you go is someone to check you have tickets and punch holes in it ! Our guide was a keen photographer and knew exactly the right spot for us to get sunrise pics. First we had to trek across huge moat on a sort of plastic floating pontoon bridge ..Jenny didn’t like that ! It had rained in the night so we then plodded through long very wet grass at the side of the lake ( bear in mind that it was still dark ) sometimes sinking into the mud and only just missing stepping on some horses that were lying asleep !! but then we were at a small temple building overlooking the great Angkor Wat Temple and as the first ones there we
clambered up on massive stones to get the best views with no-one in front of us. Most of the rest of the hundreds of tourist groups were lined up on the causeway. Silently we waited and as the dawn broke and as the sun rose we were in awe of the beautiful scene before us....it was magical almost unreal. The sky lightened and it was daylight and time to go back to our hotel for breakfast only to return to Angkor Wat later. Our guide had it all worked out for us to get to places at the best times and next we approached Angkor Wat by the back entrance where he explained how these temples were built and their religious significance. Mostly built from from sandstones the huge stones were quarried about 40km away and would have taken thousands of men to labour to bring the stones to the site and build the temples . Transported by water a canal had to be built to connect the Lake and river and the very large moats around the temples were also an essential part of the foundations of the buildings. Originally these were Hindu temples but gradually were transformed into
Buddhist temples. And so we spent some hours wandering there along corridors with wonderful bas reliefs depicting all sorts of stories , up and down steps into ancient libraries and so on.
I forget how many temples there are in the region .. it could have been 4000 , the mind boggles ...we certainly were filled with awe and wonder in these days at these sites.
Second temple of the day was Bayon at the centre of Angkor Thom , this looks almost like a huge jumble of stones until you start looking and seeing some of the 54 towers , the huge faces staring down at you from all angles , climbing up to various levels to be almost eye to eye with these deities...AMAZING ..I loved it there.
We did manage to fit in having lunch somewhere , one of the restaurants where kids with few opportunities have been given the chance to train as chefs , waiters etc.. And after all that clambering about and walking we were ready for some delicious food and beer!! Then we were off again to Preah Kahn ( Royal Sword] temple ...beautiful red sandstone with fabulous detailed carving
...another wonder of mans ingenuit.
In the evening we didn’t sit around ...oh no we were off in Tuck Tucks to see and acrobatic circus ..( another one of these responsible tourism ventures , Street kids now professional acrobats ) great fun and very exciting.
Our last temple the following day was the temple in the jungle which was used in the filming of Tomb Raider.. Ta Prohm is a Buddhist temple with towers, courtyards and many bas reliefs , narrow corridors and colonnades. The very ancient trees crawl round doorways , plants and lichens and moss creep and adorn walls ..... this must have been what it was like when westerners first set eyes on these temples ...of course today the jungle isn’t quite allowed to take over .
Best tip I have for anyone doing these temples is take a fan with you ... hot hot hot and humid , it is good to fan and cool your face.
I know there’s lots of photos here ... I promise I have whittled them down! It’s so photogenic there.
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