Temples, Temples, Temples…
Yesterday was a very big day of sightseeing. We departed at 8am and returned around 6:30pm. Wow, what a day! We had a fantastic time with our guide Tom showing us all the wonders of Angkor. We learned so much in that time frame and all of the facts, tidbits and history really helped us to understand so much about this place during particular parts of history. As I had said before, I haven’t visited these sites in 9 years, but they were even more majestic than I remembered them to be.
Our guide, Tom (Mr. Theara) was phenomenal. (Check him out for your next visit www.angkorguidetour.com) He knew everything. Literally everything. Even down to knowing my camera so well that he not only was our tour guide, but he was also our new photographer for the trip. He has a true love for photography and I happily let him snap away on my camera for the day and he was in his element. He owns the same camera himself so he was quite the expert! And I need to take a refresher photography course!!
Throughout the course of the day we visited 4 sites. We began at the creme de la creme, the head honcho, the big daddy of wats, THE wat to see – Angkor Wat. Angkor Wat was built in the 13th century. It took approximately 35 years, over 350,000 people and 5,000 elephants to create this masterpiece. It is absolutely breathtaking and a true wonder of the world when you consider how it could possibly be built using rudimentary tools to complete it and also the fact that all of the stone was brought from a mountain that is 60km away. The details in the carvings, layout and planning is astounding. It took us a few hours to get through all of the grounds, to capture all of the information and to sometimes just sit back and take a look around.
Our next stop was to Angkor Thom complex to see the Bayon temple. Bayon is remarkable for the 254 faces that were originally scuplted into the stone. Now, what remains is only a small portion of that, but they are still amazing to see. Each face represents the king who wanted the temple to be built for him. The symmetry in all of these temples is really phenomenal and I can’t believe how these things were measured out to ensure that they were in line. Brilliant.
After a lovely lunch break and an ice cold Angkor Beer to recharge our batteries we were off again to see two more temples. This was a really hot part of the day, however the long walk down the path to our next temple – Ta Phrom was lovely. There was an amazing breeze floating down the path and there was a orchestra playing beautiful music. When we got closer, we realized that the orchestra was comprised of victims of landmines who can no longer do their original jobs and have learned to play instruments in order to support their family. The music became even more beautiful knowing this. Ta Phrom is an amazing temple ruin. They are working hard to restore the temple one brick at a time. It is absolutely painstaking work and the mother of all jig saw puzzles to be able to lift, carry, number, plan and reset all of the stones in the exact same way that they have fallen out or been taken out. Unbelievable and no surprise why it takes many, many years of work. The jungle has really worked its way through this temple which makes it a beautiful juxtaposition of nature and man-made beauty.
Our last stop was to Bantey Srei temple. I had never visited this temple before and I was glad that Tom took us to see it. It was so different to the other temples and the focus was on the intricate carvings on every single piece of stone that made up its walls. The temple is a gorgeous red sandstone. The carvings are amazing to think of someone making it today, but this temple was even older than Angkor Wat so the tools that were used must have been very primitive. We were the only people here at this time and it was such a lovely end to a spectacular day of temple sight seeing – it was very peaceful and serene. Gorgeous.
By the time we were back to the hotel, we were very tired. But we showered up and headed to the Foreign Correspondents Club (FCC) to end a wonderfully fantastic day in Cambodia. The FCC has been renovated from an old Govenor’s mansion and it was a step back from the busy pub street area. A great place to just enjoy the warm Cambodian night.
The beauty of Cambodia is truly a sight to behold.
Even my iphone can capture the amazingness that is Cambodia! (all photos of temples on this blog are compliments of my iphone!!)