Angkor Wat, Cambodia

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May 16th 2008
Published: June 21st 2017
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There are a few options of how to see ancient Khmer temples at Angkor Wat. Tickets for the site come in 1, 3, and 7 day passes. (Just like Disneyland!!! Ohh, um, Uuuugh....) When you buy your ticket at the gate, they take your photo and print it out on your ticket so you can't transfer it to anyone else. So, 1 day just doesn't seem like enough time to see this place, I've traveled all the way to Cambodia just to see it for Pete's sake. Seven days seems like a little overkill to me; I'm not really that much of a history buff and I've seen a lot of ruins in the past four months already, so 3 days seems just about right.

I took over 4G's of photos from the days I spent here at the ruins. So many photos that I can't even really post the highlights, because even that would be too much to post. So I'll randomly choose a few pics from among the highlights that I've chosen and put those up.

There are a whole bunch of temples at Angkor, way more than just the Wat. Though obviously the Wat is the most famous, and I've noticed that a lot of people refer to all the different temples here as just Angkor Wat in general. Not really that fair to the other ones that have their own names, you know? I visited about six of the temples in-depth, and a few others I just stopped briefly at and looked at from the Tuk-Tuk. There were also a lot of gorgeous old stone gates, adorned with huge intricate stone carvings that we passed along the way.
I used a different guide each day I visited the site, not because each of them wasn't great and informative - they all were - it was to get new info and a different perspective on the site. I re-visited some of the temples that were most interesting to me. So if you notice photos of the same temple in a different light/time of day, with a different sky that's why.

Very briefly here are the basics on the different temples so you know what you are looking at in the pics:
Angkor Wat - Angkor Wat (or Angkor Vat) is a temple at Angkor, Cambodia, built for king Suryavarman II in the early 12th century as his state temple and capital city. The largest and best-preserved temple at Angkor, it is the only one to have remained a significant religious centre- first Hindu, then Buddhist- since its foundation. The temple is the epitome of the high classical style of Khmer architecture. It has become a symbol of Cambodia, appearing on its national flag, and it is the country's prime attraction for visitors drawn by its architecture, its extensive bas-reliefs and the numerous aspara dancers adorning its walls. Angkor Wat is the centerpiece not only of the Angkor Archaeological Park, but of Khmer civilization. It's surrounded on all four sides by a large moat.
Ta Phrom - I could say a lot here, but really I just need to say that this is the temple where Angelina Jolie shot Tomb Raider. 'Nuff said, right? The jungle trees taking over the site, huge glistening roots, and crumbling walls don't disappoint. I particularly counted myself lucky to see this temple in monsoon season, because the bright (almost fluorescent) green moss growing everywhere was just stunning; and the whole place smelled of moist green moss on cool old stones. Otherworldly. The tree roots have an iridescent quality to the bark that make them glitter in the sunlight.
Angkor Thom: Thom isn't one temple but a collection of temples all together in one are walled in with four beautiful stone gates. Thom was the urban center of the Angkor empire. Bayon is the centerpiece of Angkor Thom.
Bayon - Doesn't look like much from a distance, but once you get an inside you're treated to an endless variety of angles and compositions of the 216 heads carved into the stone. A photographers dream.
Terrace of the Leper King - Elephants (1190-1210) Not a whole lot is known about this temple. I couldn't really find that much on it, it was just to the north of the terrace of the Elephants.
Royal Palace - Major construction was undertaken at Angkor Thom's Royal Palace under the reigns of King Jayavarman VII and his immediate successors. Bas-reliefs (carvings in the walls) depicting aquatic scenes were added, for example, to the lower steps of Srah Srei.
Phnom Bakheng - It's the temple on the top of the hill, and billed as the best spot to see the sunset over the Cambodian countryside. It was late afternoon when we got here, and the daily monsoon rain was just kicking in when my guide
and I started climbing. It was full on pouring when we got to the top, we were completely drenched and laughing deliriously. We could have turned around, but what the hell. The climb up the (crazy-OMG-are you kidding me?!?!) steep temple temples was something I'm really glad I didn't know about before I agreed to climb this hill. The expansive landscape view from the top did provide some spectacular views, despite the rain. =)

I didn't always get the info just right from my guide while we were on site, and it was really helpful to do a little research on my own so I knew what I was looking/had looked at. I totally recommend a few hours of Google searches before you go here. Your guide book just can't compete with the blogs and photos of actual people who've visited as well as the sites put up by the guides with background info to wet your palate for your visit.

Here's where I got some of the info on the temples that I put here: Good Land Map (scroll all the way down): Angkor Thom: Royal Palace:

Additional photos below
Photos: 64, Displayed: 26


Angkor Wat hallway - tall ceilings eh?Angkor Wat hallway - tall ceilings eh?
Angkor Wat hallway - tall ceilings eh?

I met this woman and her nephew along the walkway entrance to Angkor Wat. Her guide hadn't shown up, they'd been waiting over an hour. When she heard my guide and I speaking English she asked if they could tag along with us for the day. We split the cost of the guide and it worked out great for everyone. She is a teacher living in Italy, and her nephew is from Italy too.
Me with an Apsara DancerMe with an Apsara Dancer
Me with an Apsara Dancer

This is the most famous Apsara Dancer at Angkor because she is the only one with her mouth open, you can see her teeth.
Windows at Angkor WatWindows at Angkor Wat
Windows at Angkor Wat

All the windows had 7 spires in them. always the same number within any temple, and always an odd number.

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