Baphuon temple undergoing some serious reconstruction
But the reason for this becomes apparent when you realize that each project is being funded different countries. The list of benefactors ranged from France to Japan, to UNESCO. Of course the people at Angkor aren’t going to look a gift horse in the mouth “um thank you for donating hundreds of thousands of dollars for Angkor’s restoration – can we take a rain check until 2015.”
rubble at Ta Prohm
We pressed on and managed to see some pretty great stuff that first day. After Bayon, our first stop was the Terrace of the Elephants and the Terrace of the Leper King, both of which we really enjoyed.
Terrace of the ElephantsThe Terrace of the Leper King is a pair of walls - and outter and inner one - that are covered in carved figures
Claire and Neil checking out the inner wall at the Terrace of the Leper King
Figures carved on the Terrace of the Leper King
Ta Prohm has been famously overtaken by banyan trees and is one of the most popular temples on the Angkor circuit.
Unfortunately, it’s popularity hasn’t been good for it and not only is it currently the sight of massive reconstruction, but the wooden walkways and photo-op platforms that have been placed throughout it have turned it into a bit of a circus and robbed it of the mystery and intrigue I’m sure it once held.
But it's definitely still a pretty neat temple to see.
Although I was a bit bummed by all of the work going on at Ta Prohm, I really enjoyed checking out the much less visited –and much quieter - Preah Khan.
I've got my hand on a linga to remind me what I cannot do...
some trees over taking the temple at Preah KhanWe finished our day with sunset at Angkor Wat
on our way into Angkor wat for the first time
Angkor Wat basking in the late afternoon glow
an Angkorian windowsillOur first temple on our second day was Banteay Srey and it was by far my favorite temple. While is almost dimunitive in size it is completely made out of gorgeous pink sand stone and has been beautifully restored. The details in the base reliefs on the lintils and pediments are absolutly amazing.
After that we visited Kbal Spean which the so called "Rive of 1000 Lingas." A linga is the phallic representation of the Hindu god Shiva. From the 11th - 13th centuries, the ancient Angkorian people carved this river bed with 1000 lingas and other sacred dieties in order to fertalize their water.
Banteay Samre also had some awesome carvings and was a really fun temple to visit becaues there was NO construction and almost no other people around. It was a great end to our fantastic day 2 at Angkor.
Nick all alone in Banteay Samre, imagining ancient life in Angkor
The best thing about Angkor Wat at sunrise, is that immediately after the spectacle is over, the entire crowd clears out and scatters about the park on their own explorations. The post-sunrise crowd doesn't file between 8:30 - 9:00. This means that if you go into Angkor between about 7:00 and 9:00 you can enjoy it in relative peace, which is exactly what Nick and I did.
Although the carvings on the outside of Angkor Wat are no where near as intricate (or well maintained) as those at Banteay Srey, the walls inside are absolutly covered with amazingly intricate and well preserved base reliefs.
checking out the base reliefs in the early morning silence of an empty hallway in Angkor Wat
an elephant warrior base relief in the halls of Angkor Wat
monks taking a stroll along the reflection pool at Angkor Wat