Angkor Wat and its surrounding complex were different from what I had expected. I was expecting ruined temples in the middle of nowhere …clambering over boulders to get to an ancient structure …and finding myself some peace and quiet. Possibly, my expectations had an overhang from Bagan, where I could find a quiet pagoda ever so often, inspiring me to close my eyes and meditate.
I repeat…the Angkor temple complex was different.There were hordes of people…backpackers, luxury travellers and large groups …all there to see the architecture and the artwork. I met travellers who had explored over a dozen temples in just a couple of days. Such exploration in three days seemed beyond my caliber. I preferred sticking to the three most common ones ie Angkor Wat, Bayon and Ta Prom…though I must confess that I spent over three hours in each of these temples and would have loved to spend some more!
Here are a few of my favourite pictures from Siem Reap…
Sunrise at Angkor Wat
As I lazily brushed my teeth and rubbed my groggy eyes at 430 am, I wondered whether the sunrise at Angkor Wat would be worth this gargantuan task of waking up at wee hours of the morning while I was on vacation! The effort paid off as I got to stand in front of the water basin at the Angkor Wat, with at least a thousand people in the rear rows.
And here is the result …the Angkor Wat temple and its reflection! While I did share the spot with thousands of other tourists, I would recommend taking the effort to witness the sunrise behind the Angkor Wat at least once while you are there!
Enigmatic faces at Bayon
My first visit to Bayon lasted for an hour only. I was surrounded by large groups of cackling tourists who were as jumpy as excited atoms. I could hardly manage a few seconds to smile back at the faces in Bayon… I just knew that I had to go back. The next day, I reached Bayon in the second half to find the temple almost empty. I got the undivided attention and smiles from the faces carved in stone…you need to be there to feel the enigma!
Khmer puppet at the Night Market
While Khmer tradition talks about shadow puppetry, this colourful face caught my eye at the Night Market in Siem Reap. His eyes, wide open seem eager to blink. He seems to be pouting in a playful manner …all set for a selfie!
Apsaras of Angkor Wat
The walls of the Angkor Wat are adorned with carvings of the celestial nymphs called the apsaras. About 2000 lovely ladies decorate the walls of this temple.
The apsara below is one of the most well preserved ones at the Angkor Wat, showing off her carefree mood with a toothy grin! She is the only one in the entire complex who flashes her teeth. What also caught my eye is her fancy hairstyle…might be an inspiration to grow my locks!
Monks in saffron
The monks in Myanmar wore maroon robes. However, those at the Angkor complex wore saffron robes. These monks represent the country’s Buddhist identity. Within the Angkor Wat, their presence reminds one of the history that the temple has witnessed – Hinduism being the prime religion over 1000 years ago …and Buddhism being the key religion now.
Watch this space for some tips if you intend to visit the Angkor complex in the near future!