Monday, April 26, 2010

The Temples of Angkor in Brief

The South Gate to Angkor Thom which include the Bayon,
Elepahant terrace etc

It's been said that it takes up to 3 to 7 days to visit the many temples within the Angkor Archeological Park. To be honest without a person appreciating the history of the place the park would be nothing more than glamorized rock, the equivalent of a beauty pagent for sandstones.

I guess its still great for a day out of photography. If you're hard working enough and rush about like a mad hatter you'd be able to cover most of the temples below in about two days.


Carvings at the Elephant Terrace.


The Prasat Suor Prat, 12 almost identical laterite and sandstone towers as seen from the Elephant Terrace. The Elephant Terrace is nothing more than a long wall so nothing really spectacular about it.


The front of Ta Prohm - the ruins with the giant overgrown trees. Great to just explore around and take pictures if you're a shutterbug. Its close to The Elephant Terrace (approx ten minutes maybe by Tuk Tuk)

Carvings inside Ta Prohm.

Restoration  work within Ta Prohm.

The giant trees give the temple ruins the surreal atmosphere of an ancient civilization being attacked by Space Squids from the outer rings of Saturn!


Nex at the entrance to Banteay Kdei. It's so-so. Similar ruins to many other temples. However...

.... the surrounding area has a moat/lake filled with green micro plant life that gives the place a surreal feel. The surrounding yards outside the temples are actually great places for picnics if you've got the time - nothing better than take things easy with a cold beer under tree shaded thousand year old ruins.

Harvesting 'plankton'. While Nex was inside Banteay Kdei I wandered around the grounds. I saw this dude damming up the lake. Looked like he was harvesting the plankton but communication was shit. All I could  VAGUELY gather from him was the green tiny plant looking things came from underneath the lake.


Ta Keo took my breath away. As our Tuk Tuk drove past we suddenly were assaulted with this man made mountain sitting quietly by the side of the road.  It's actually quite a simple temple but the sheer impact of height of the mountain standing magnificiently against a startling blue sky was breath taking. It's a temple dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva. Built in the late 10th to early 11th century and made of sandstone.


A quiet moment... Near the entrance to Baphuon

OK I  admit I didn't really go into the Baphuon. I was already suffering from temple overload. I just wandered around the entrance.

Crossing the bridge to Baphuon


A short walk from the Baphuon is the Bayon, one of the must see sites in the park. This iconic temple with its 37 towers with 4 sided heads said to resemble the Buddha and/or King Yayavarman the VII. It's surreal walking around the top with the images of peacefulness surrounding you at every turn. As peaceful as it can get that is with a hundred or so Japanese, Chinese, French and German tourists milling about and cam whoring all over the place.

Peace yo....


You ONLY go here if you want to try your luck at taking a picture of the sun set. The view overlooks the Tonle Sap lake but your luck depends on the weather. You could find the view at the top nothing more than a dry, dusty unspectacular sunset crowded out by an overloaded  temple peak with hoards of tourists. Getting to the top is tricky as the steps are very very narrow and steep. Keep the old folks away from this unless they are hardy enough.  I didn't bother to take any pictures of the sunset as the sky was too dry and there were just too many people perched on the edge of the temple to really enjoy the moment.

HOWEVER one thing you can try is taking photos in the morning with the sun behind you as you might then get a good shot of the lakes and surrounding countryside. Might be better during rainy season when the vegetation has 'greened up' after the dry and hot season.

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