Siem Reap, Cambodia: Angkor Temple Tour, Day 2
This post has been long overdue. Apologies for the delay if you have been expecting this! But here's the day 2 of our Angkor Temple Tour. If you have missed the first one, you can find it here!
Our Angkor Temple Tour continued the next day, and it started very early in the morning for us to witness the sunrise over the majestic Angkor Wat. Our tuk-tuk driver fetched us from our hotel at around 5:15am, and we reached the vicinity 15 minutes later. The sunrise usually starts around 5:30am until 6:00am. When we arrived, tourists were already swarming the area waiting for the sunrise to commence. We joined the crowd, settled down, and prepared our cameras and phones for lots of photo-taking.
I have read previously before I went on this trip that the sunrise in Angkor Wat is not to be missed. But for me, it's not that special, and it's kinda overrated. Maybe I'm biased, but I honestly still prefer the sunrise in Manila Bay even though there is no grand structure like the Angkor Wat over it. Nevertheless, since in Siem Reap, you can only see mostly temples, it's a nice experience to see Angkor Wat in a different circumstance.
After viewing the sunrise, we hurriedly went to the nearest restaurant to fill our empty tummies and prepare ourselves from another day of long walks and climbing steep stairs.
Our first temple for the day was Bayon. It is famous for the mysterious faces carved on its towers.
One of the famous spots in Bayon is the South Gate where you can see giant faces lined up on both on sides wearing different kinds of expressions. On the left side are devas (gods), and on the right are asuras (demons). They are holding naga (a serpent), which our tuk-tuk driver refers to as dragons.
After taking pictures on the South Gate, we proceeded to the east entrance of the temple. The temple is quite big, and there are lot of fascinating carvings all around its walls.
By the way, we saw a number of monkeys on this temple, hopping from one pillar to another. Don't disturb them, and be careful with your bags if there are food inside!
Next stop was Baphoun. It was believed that it was one of the most impressive, if not the best, temple among the Angkor temples during its heyday. Unfortunately, mother nature has been rough on it, and it has experienced significant damage over time. Today, it is undergoing massive restoration -- the stones are dismantled one by one, and put together afterwards like a puzzle. This is why the temple was dubbed as the largest jigsaw puzzle in the world.
This temple has three storeys, and its quite high. I think it's much higher than Pre Rup. We have been climbing lots of steps since the day before, so my friends and I decided not to enter the temple anymore. We just took photos outside.
After Angkor Wat, I believe this is the most famous Angkor temple. Ta Phrohm is famous because this is where Angelina Jolie shot her film, Tomb Raider. Some tour guides even call this temple the "Tomb Raider Temple" as most of the tourists are not familiar with the actual name.
Unlike other temples where most of the structures are still intact, Ta Phrohm is already in ruins because of the enormous trees that have taken over the area.
Last but not the least, the Angkor Wat!
The Angkor Wat was the pride of the Khmer Empire, and it is very evident because of how majestic the structure is.
The vicinity is massive so you need plenty of time if you want to explore every corner. To reach the second level, one must climb steep stairs. Notice that they have added wooden steps to make the climbing easier for everyone as the original steps are way steeper and narrower.
Unlike other temples which are no longer used as a place of worship, locals still go here to pray. When I was there, I can't help but think how dedicated and disciplined people from the old days are to come here and pray. Going up is such a challenge!
One of the most prominent features of the temple are the carvings etched on every side of the walls, and even on the ceilings. They are beautiful and extremely intricate.
And that's it! After visiting eleven temples in a span of two days, this concluded our Angkor Temple tour. At the end, we definitely felt the "temple fatigue", but it was worth it. The temples are simply amazing!