Sunday, January 1, 2017

Day Two at Angkor

On our second day at Angkor, we decided to start a little later in the morning,  as our first day had been quite long. We left our guesthouse at around 9am, and our first stop at the park was Angkor Wat, so that we could fully explore the inside of the temple.

Inside Angkor Wat
It was another hot, sunny day, and there were masses of people already at the temple. It was so amazing to finally walk inside the building, and admire the perfectly laid stones with their intricate carvings. The whole temple is just so massive, and it truly blows the mind how this was built many many hundreds of years ago.

The contrast between seeing the temple awashed with golden light from the setting sun the previous day, to seeing it in the bright morning sun was huge. The clear blue of the sky made the building stand out as bold as ever.

That evening after our visit to Angkor, I watched the National Geographic feature on Angkor Wat, and I learnt that experts believe the temple was  constructed in only about 35 years! The fact that they completed the project in such a short amount of time makes the whole building even more mind blowing.

After we had walked through the whole building, we got back into the tuk tuk and headed to some of the smaller temples. We drove through Angkor Thom again, and passed the Bayon Temple with its cheeky banana snatching monkeys.

Preah Khan 

Our next stop was Preah Khan, which was actually one of my favourite temples. There seemed to be less tourists there when we walked through it, and it seemed very peaceful. Like Ta Prohm, it is jungley and overgrown, with trees growing over the walls. Such an interesting temple to explore.

Neak Pean lake and temple 

After a quick stop for lunch, which after day one we learned to pack our own, we headed off to the next temple, which was Neak Pean. Surrounded by water, to reach the temple you walk up a long boardwalk across a large pond with water lilies floating on the surface. A very tranquil and quiet setting.

Ta Som temple

Just east of Neak Pean is Ta Som, which we visited next. Ta Som is a small temple which is mostly ruined, with only minor restorations to help make it safer for visitors. The most interesting feature here was the giant fig tree which has grown over one of the gates outside the temple.

East Mebon temple 

Next was East Mebon temple, guarded by two metre high elephant sculptures in each corner. The temple was originally in the middle of an artificial lake which has now dried up. It features five tall towers in the centre of the structure, meant to replicate Mount Meru, important in Hindu beliefs.

Pre Rup temple

Then, south of Mebon, lies Pre Rup, which we stopped off at next. This temple is very similar in style to Mebon, built in the temple-mountain style with the five towers. The temple is quite tall, and gives you a fantastic view of the countryside from its main terrace. The stairs to the top terrace were once again treacherously steep, but thankfully we found another set of wooden stairs to go down that has been constructed on the opposite side.

 Charlotte posed for some pictures on the temple steps :)

Our last stop of the day was a small temple, the name I cannot remember, with inbuilt shrines constructed out of brick.
We ended our day here, heading back to our guesthouse feeling full of wonder and appreciation at the sights we had seen in the past two days.

Visiting the Angkor Archaeological Park was definitely a major highlight of the trip so far, and I am so grateful that we were able to visit it. It is an amazing part of history that has stood the test of time.

Thanks for reading,
Hannah xx

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