XIV – The temples of Angkor are definitely a must-see destination in a lifetime!

After Phnom Penh, I took a night bus to head up north to Siem Reap. The city in itself doesn’t have much to offer. But if you drive about three kilometers south, you’ll see some wonders of this world (definitely on my list!!). Siem Reap province is actually best known for stunning ancient temples ruins, especially the ruins that where the location set of the action movie “Tomb Raider” – starring Angelina Jolie.

Since I hadn’t had much sleep on the night bus, I arrived completely exhausted at my hostel. I thought about taking quick nap…. just a couple of minutes to relax…..minutes that turned into 3 hours! After a quick shower, I went to the reception desk to ask for a city map. A French girl, Laureline, had just arrived and so, we decided to grab a tuk-tuk together to Angkor Wat to see the sunset. The pass to the park costs a fortune, 60 U$D for 3 days of visit, but it’s so worth it!

The next morning at breakfast, we met Meishya, a Malaysian teacher on holidays. The three of us decided to explore together Cambodia’s national treasure, the Angkor ancient temple complex. They are considered to be the biggest religious buildings in the world.

After walking through temple after temple, I can say every single one is just a little different. Some temples are just ruins with a couple of bricks laying there, and it’s quite difficult to see what it was back in the days. Some temples have been taken over by nature with trees growing over the walls. Many monkeys are climbing to the top of the ruins or just walking besides you (visiting along ahahaaa). It’s pretty incredible! And other temples have been restored and you can see many details and carvings in the wall – daily life scenes, dancing apsaras (the indigenous ballet-like Cambodian performer) and ancient Khmer writings.

The majestic Angkor Wat, the Buddhist temple Baphuon with its 9 meter tall by 70 meter long statue of a reclining Buddha, the funny guardians sculptures in Banteay Srei temple, and the crumbling ruins of Ta Phrom (Tomb Raider movie set) are among my highlights.

I lack of words to explain the beauty & magic of all these places. It’s so beautiful and unique to anything I have ever seen… Nothing I can tell you or show you about it will ever do it justice! So I guess you’ll have to go there… or at least imagine it 🙂  There is a sense a peace while you are in them. It’s such a quiet atmosphere that you’re almost scared to talk out loud. I bet anyone can spend days walking among the ruins, while not talking but listening to the birds and taking in the beauty of the site. It’s just breath-taking!

The temples of Angkor are definitely a must-see destination in a lifetime! For me, it’s done. Check. 🙂

Angkor Wat

A little girl playing with a monkey.

The Leper King Terrace.

All the sandstone walls of the Elephant terrace are carved with elephants, of course!

Angkor Wat bas-relief, Churning of the Ocean of Milk, shows 92 gods and 88 demons fighting for the elixir of immortality and a snake caught up in the middle !

The entrance of the Elephant terrace.

Angkor Wat bas-relief.

Angkor Wat bas-relief, the Battle of Kurukshetra.

Angkor Wat bas-relief, Heaven and Hell, shows Yama, the God of the dead, sitting on a buffalo, assisted by his two assessors, Dharma and Sitragupta.

The upper part describes life in heaven, and the lower part life in hell. The panel is 60 meters long. There are 37 heavens and 32 hells.

Life in hell is all about torture, which was rather gruesome with its breaking of bones, use of hot irons, and piercing of heads with nails.

Going to Hell !

Life in heaven is shown by the rich palaces, the flying Apsara nymphs, and the lavish draperies.

The gods hold the tail, the demons hold the head, while the snake coils itself around Mt. Mandala. Each time the gods and demons pull from their sides, the mountain turns and the ocean churns.

Closer pic of the ocean.

Little monkey climbing the Angkor Wat Temple.

The demons pulling the snake from the left side.

The gods pulling the snake from the right side.

Stone carvings of 14th century battles at Angkor.

Monkeys staring at us at Angkor Wat Temple.

Dancers performing in the Bayon Temple.

It's possible to do a tour of the Bayon Temple on an elephant.

The Baphuon measures 120 metres east-west by 100 metres north-south at its base and stands 34 meters tall.

A scene with animals carved into the facade of the Baphuon Temple.

A scene with animals carved into the facade of the Baphuon Temple.

Another scene from daily life carved into the facade of the Baphuon Temple.

A scene from daily life carved into the facade of the Baphuon Temple.

A 9 meter tall by 70 meter long statue of a reclining Buddha was built on the west side's second level.

The Buddha's face.

Laureline and our tuk-tuk driver.

A drawing helps visitors to see the Buddha's face.

The Ta Keo Temple.

The stairs to get at the top of the Ta Keo Temple. It's really steep!

Going down from the Ta Keo Temple, is quite a challenge!

Duo of Dancing Apsaras at The Hall of the Dancing Girls in the Banteay Kdei Temple.

Children playing inside the The Ta Keo Temple.

Monkey faced guardians of Shivas' temple in the Banteay Srei Temple.

Closer pic of a dancing Apsara in the Banteay Kdei Temple.

Inscriptions in Sanskrit and ancient Khmer on the doorjambs of the eastern Gopura.

Tree roots overgrowing the Ta Prohm Temple.

Close-up view of the inscriptions.

Me (wearing my famous green pants 😉 ) in the Ta Prohm Temple.

The Ta Prohm Temple.

Meishya posing with some dancing apsaras carved in the walls of the Ta Prohm Temple.

Me trying my best to restore a small door to the Ta Prohm Temple.

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One Response to XIV – The temples of Angkor are definitely a must-see destination in a lifetime!

  1. ana marquez says:

    It’s really really all – beautiful !!!

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