TravellingStrom

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Angkor WAT – and More of those Temple Destroying Trees

Posted by TravellingStrom on January 30, 2013

After a rest day yesterday, and my legs were sore from climbing all those steps, I returned today for another look around. I had more of an idea of what and where to go, but as the entrance to the site was near Angkor WAT itself I decided to park up there and check it out first.

I don’t have any guide book info and I was a bit disappointed in the LACK of information boards around the whole site, to describe the items being seen. But being a cynical realist, I understand they do not wish to give out free info, when the local touts can sell you an over priced book or sell themselves as an over priced tour guide. Not wishing to become involved with this I just meandered around by myself and took photos, which I am used to by now πŸ™‚

The causeway over the large and wide moat that leads to the entrance to Angkor WAT.

You can see from the second photo above, trying to get a good sunrise photo here would be nigh on impossible, unless all you want is a silhouette with the rising sun behind it. Mind you I grabbed this photo from off the net and if you get a nice clear dawn it might turn out OK, I’m still not getting up for it though πŸ˜‰

They seem to be planning to do some more restoration work on the causeway as they are building what looks like a coffer dam along a part of it, they will then most likely pump the water out adjoining the wall and do what repairs are needed.

Once through the main gate through the outer wall, there is another long causeway to the main temple itself. Along the way are two buildings, one on either side which were libraries.

A bit further on is the lily covered lake from where the sunrise shots are taken. There is a lake on both sides, but this one is well maintained, the one on the other side is half empty and run down, obviously not needed to make money by not being in a good enough place for photos πŸ˜‰ Behind the left hand lake under the trees are a whole stack of vendors, clamouring for your money once you get within earshot. This shot is taken looking back at the lake from the temple entrance.

If it seems I am being a bit harsh about the touts, then tuff, it is a trait I hated in other parts of the world as well, when someone says NO(meaning me), it means no, not try harder, they will surely part with some money if I keep on at them. 😦

In fact, before you go any further reading my blog, it might be best to click on this link and have a read about the tout system in this area, it will open in a new page of your browser:
Touts – The Dark Side of Angkor Wat

If you then want to learn about Cambodian corruption, then click on the following link:
Angkor People and Corruption in Cambodia

Both those links have enough truth in them from what I have personally experienced, that they are worth reading. Thanks go to Ron2Wheels for passing this info on.

OK back to the temple of Angkor WAT. Inside is a huge terrace area which on all sides are covered by bas relief carvings, these walls go a long way and all are covered in carvings. There actually were a couple of very minimal information boards here, so I had half an idea what was happening. I sometimes latched onto an English speaking tour, but as most of them had about 20-30 people, what the guide was pointing at I could not see and with the chatter from the tour people, half of what he said went unheard. I reckon a personal guide may be worth it, depending on cost.
The southern section of wall.

The western section of wall.

There were even sections with Sanskrit wording on it, these had been highlighted and cleaned.

The building blocks themselves seem to be about a foot square and the carvings go across the gap quite seamlessly, pretty nifty πŸ™‚

After I had had my fill of bas relief I headed inwards towards the next section. This was the inner temple and had the tall towers on it. Here was an opportunity to climb to the top which I did, although my legs complained during and after(and are still bitchin as I write this) πŸ˜‰ Here also was another tourist trap, this one I fell for πŸ™‚

I headed down and out into another section of the temple, not having a map I was winging it, and here I came upon a troupe of monkeys, some with what looked like nearly new born bubs with them. Some tour guide was also there with his group and he threw down bread and small plastic jam containers, the ones you get served in hotels at breakfast. This was obviously normal because they knew how to open them πŸ™‚ I took a shakey movie of them as well as some stills.

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After that little bit of excitement I followed this track which took me to the outer wall near the moat where I stopped for a breather, it was hot!!! I reckoned I had seen enough of this temple and moved on. The next section I came to was a stepped pyramid, why oh why did my brain take my legs up to the top of this one also!!!

It reminded me in a small way of the pyramid of Chitchen Itza, down Mexico way which is on the other side of the world! Just next to this was a hill, which yes, I did decide to climb and see the ruins on top. The slope was gentle, so that was ll good πŸ™‚ They are doing some major repair work here at the top.

After getting to the bottom of the hill again I decided to look for some lunch, it was a long time since brekky! I rode to the next place I wanted to look at and found a shady tree, then some shady traders who sold me chook and rice and a cold drink for too much money, not the best meal I have had but at least it filled a hole.

After lunch I went over to some real run down ruins away from the main stream of people. There was a bit of leaf raking and burning off going on but nothing much else to spruik about.

It was here I was accosted by a young chap who had followed me down the path, I must have money I am a tourist. When I say accost, I don’t mean mugged, but he started to tell me all about the ruins I was near and then showed me a school book that I was supposed to sign and donate money too!!! I told him that I don’t hand out money to strange young boys in the woods and why wasn’t he at school? His mate turned up and they kept on at me, really pissed me off no end. I wish I had read that link above before I left today, but did not get it until that afternoon, otherwise I would have had the free tour guide response ready πŸ™‚ I did get back to my bike with wallet and money intact, not that they were trying to rob me unofficially or anything πŸ™‚ I headed up the road a ways until the next gathering of touts and vendors where of course there was another temple. Most of these I had ridden past the other day in search of Geocaches, so it was good to go a bit slower and stop. This temple was called Preah Khan and I call it the temple of the thousand doorways!

This was another large temple ground surrounded by a wall and a causeway had to be crossed to get there. This temple was quite damaged with obvious restraints in some places, but a lot of the passageways were blocked with fallen masonry.

This is the Stupa in the middle that was mentioned out front.

Here I found more trees, or their remains, engulfing the walls.

And then, finally on the other side of that wall I found the location of the most famous Angkor WAT photo πŸ™‚

I had a rest here in the shade for a while and just looked in awe at what nature can do, I was real impressed πŸ™‚ After a short while I left and went looking for another place to visit, although I was becoming weary now, it was very hot and I had been on the go since 8am and it was now about 2pm. I had even suffered more cramps in my calf muscles, not good with a heavy bike under my arse!! So, the next little place I stopped at, identified by the gathering of tuktuks and food and tat vendors, was called Ta Som. This was down a long narrow pathway fully lined with people trying to sell stuff. It was exactly like that link above, saying no means you will buy on the way back, I used the word ‘maybe’ many times. This was only a small temple but right at the end, after walking through a number of small archways, you are confronted by a wall of kids and family selling stuff and there was no way out from here, you have to go back the way you came. Waiting patiently for a clean shot, I think I was rewarded πŸ™‚

Some of the kids here were very young, when I tasked the mothers why they were not at school, they ignored me, but you could tell they understood English very well. Most of the kids were rattling off foreign languages as they tried to entice your wallet and heart to open. Both mine stayed closed.

Check out this tree I saw on the way out via a different path, down but not out!!

I headed off from here thinking about calling it a day, but I stopped for one more temple, called Pre Rup. This one had a heap of elephant statues and it was in mediocre state of repair. You can probably tell I am getting a bit blasΓ© now about this place, probably too much seen in too short a time.

I was now officially templed out, I needed a break from all this and riding slow was a pain because there was no air flow. So, I decided to go and find the last two Geocaches in Siem Reap. There are 5 in all, The first 3 were within the temple complex, there was one near the lake to the west and one south of town. So, I went to the lake one first, as the roads were not navigable using the GPS, I had to hunt for roads that would take me in the general direction and eventually, after a pretty shitty dirt road I was at another, you guessed it, temple πŸ˜‰ But The cache was quite easy to find, so a success there πŸ™‚ The cache is called Ancient Angkor Ruins

After this I headed back to town, took the bypass road and via some more crappy potholes and dirt roads arrived at the next cache location, which was as you guessed, once again a temple πŸ˜† It is calledThe Water Blessing (Siem Reap)

Right, cache located, 5 from 5 for this town, a good effort πŸ™‚ Now, although I had posted on Facebook a while back, about 2 hours ago, now it was really beer time, time to park up and swill down πŸ™‚ As I arrived at the entrance to my guest house, I spotted a recognisable shirt and message. If you have been to a Horizons Unlimited meeting, you will know what I am talking about. But every year, at most meetings, a T-shirt with a saying on it is available. I have this same T-shirt with the saying:

Wherever your mind wanders…
Ride after it

As it turns out it was Thomas and Andrea from Germany. We had met in Chiang Mai at the HU meeting. They were riding a KTM around the world until he broke his tail bone. They are now setting up a small van to tackle Africa, by 4WD, but still living the dream πŸ™‚ We had a couple of beers of course πŸ™‚

After they left to catch up with some other riders I had some more beer and food but it was not a late night, due to a bit of dehydration and bloody sore legs. They will be getting a rest day tomorrow, then I shall see if I am riding after that. Cambodia on a big bike is not really set up for circumnavigation by road, everything spikes out from Siem Reap or Phnom Penh, so I may have to shift base and do day rides or something.

Just for the record, no hassles with any cops, nor guides about my bike being in the park, nor with having my lights on.

Cheers from Siem Reap
TravellingStrom

8 Responses to “Angkor WAT – and More of those Temple Destroying Trees”

  1. Ron2heels said

    A good coverage of a fascinating place Richard; well done.
    I’m glad you included the ‘scam/touts/corruption’ info within your story. People need to be aware.

    Last time I was there, with a Thai friend, we were harassed by little kids trying to sell books and cards.
    The fact that I already had taken a few hundred photos was irrelevant to them.
    Of course the poor little kids were basically slave labour to their parents or some other adult.
    What we did was not to buy cards or books from them but invite them to join us at a table to share a meal.
    They were very appreciative of this and the restaurant people were gracious too.
    Mum and Dad?, who cares!

  2. biwoz said

    Thanks, Rich. I just can’t stop my jaw from dropping on my chest as I imagine what these places looked like when new … clean, faced stone, complete … it must have been absobloodylutely amazing!

  3. gina j said

    I love the pics of the trees. Thanks for posting.

    I wonder if in Thailand, you’ve come across a dessert sold at food markets. Its ez to spot by the heavy muffin pan the ladies bake them in. Rich coconut cream custard-y cake with -surprise- a curl of green onion on top. Absolutely deelish. And they wrapped them in a package of banana leaf. i hope you’ve tried them already or that you will get a chance to as you travel thru Thailand on your way to Malaysia.

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