The Temple of All Temples: Angkor Wat
When you live in or travel to Southeast Asia, Angkor Wat is always high on the list of ‘must see’ places. Of course this comes with the caveat that there will be lots of tourists and many people trying to sell you things, but it is still one of the most impressive temple complexes I have ever seen. It’s the world’s largest Hindu temple complex and largest religious complex. Victor and I took an early morning flight from KL directly to Siem Reap, the large town near the temples, on AirAsia. In my early morning (3 a.m.) blur, I checked the folder with my passport photos that I would need to acquire a tourist visa on arrival. I went into an Indonesian-immigration induced panic. Should this happen to you: don’t panic, they make you pay a very reasonable $1 fee at the airport and send you on your way.
After my panic, we arrived at the hotel and headed to an ATM to get Cambodian money. As we packed into the small A/C ATM booth, we watched the machine spit out US dollars at us. This was the only country in SEAsia where I had seen this happen, we only used Cambodian money a few times during our week in country. We hired a tuk-tuk driver, who was with us for the next three days, and set out to start exploring the truly massive temple area. Since so much has been written about Angkor Wat, this is primarily a photo post of our journey (click on photos in montages for enlargements).
It was hot. Really hot. I felt like I was melting while walking around the temples. We stopped and tried some palm juice. It was too sweet for my taste:
I also stopped and bought a hat from a vendor who insisted her name was Angelina Jolie. Scenes from Tomb Raider were filmed at Angkor Wat. Below are shots mostly from the Bayon temple, one of my favorites:
One of the sad economic realities of a large influx of tourists is young kids trying to make a living:
There are many temples that have not been restored. Our guide the next day told us that during the Khmer Rouge regime, much of the area was not kept up. I find the trees and missing stones have a wonderful effect of their own:
It is easy to start feeling a bit templed out after several days. There is so much to explore and you really do feel tiny next to some of the giant structures:
Many people wake up early to catch the sunrise, but we were so tired after walking around and sweating it out every day that we never made it. Good to save some things for next time, right?
Spotted plenty of elephant carvings as well as some live ones for tourists to ride.
Many of the tuk-tuk drivers have hammocks and take nap breaks while tourists wander around:
At the end of our days, I was ready for a nap too!