Tag Archives: ta prohm

Lagniappe 1, Riki’s Thoughts….Cambodia

(I have been hounding Riki for months about typing up his journal notes for me to post.  Now, as we are sitting in the Swiss Alps, it all comes together and all you guys who have been bugging me about this can all relax.  And check out the pictures too – some hand drawn maps included.)

The Journal (Just a bit larger than an index card)
The Journal (Just a bit larger than an index card)
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Cambodia Map

 

Border Crossing from Phu Quoc (Vietnam)

– 5 Buses, 1 Boat, & 1 Clueless Tuktuk

– Didn’t have luggage with us at one point, separated when driving to Bus Station, was not cool

– There was an immediate change in buildings and stores on the other side of the border (much poorer construction with far fewer supplies). There was also a crazy big casino right on the Cambodian side (many vices found in Cambodia are not allowed in Vietnam).

– Drive through the countryside was really cool – dried rice paddies, flat, pockets of palm trees with little wooden huts. Much more similar to Laos than Vietnam.

 

Phnom Penh

– Crazy Tuktuk guys introduced us to the city as 10 of them would run 30 meters alongside the minivans seeking any business they could (each time we let a person off as we wound our way through the city), absolute madness.

– Traffic in this city is like Vietnam, but more cars and absolutely no organization whatsoever. They have quite wide roads, which makes it far more difficult and dangerous to cross (nothing like the organized chaos of Hanoi & HCMC), and there are Toyota Camrys everywhere, likely 90% of all the cars, all different ages (probably some knockoffs too).

– Great to be able to get draught beer again, $0.50 for a glass, but I miss ripping off the labels from the bottles (to save for art projects at a later date).

– Back to seeing SexPats (far more than we saw in Bangkok). Granted the Khmer women are all beautiful, it’s very weird and off-putting to see 7 skinny women, dressed like they are out clubbing, hanging out in front of the bars, at ALL hours of the day trying to lure in tourists, as well as all the 18 year old Khmer girls (some likely younger) hanging out with 60 – 70 year old white men.

– Some of the SexPats are young (but really quite unfortunately ugly) men hanging out with these beautiful women.

– Saw, at a minimart, a short Khmer girl holding the crotch of the much taller white guy… from behind (through the legs)… at the cash register (while the cashier, her friend, Julie and I all look at each other trying to hold back our ?laughter?).

– Genocide/Prison Museum was very intense (especially the movie we saw where one of the few surviving prisoners was interviewing his former guards), you could still see the signs of it being used as a school before the Khmer Rouge took control.

– I noticed that all the faces of the KR leaders were completely scratched off by people (even some I didn’t recognize).

– I also noticed that the pictures they had of the prisoners, were awful and showed an obsessive/crazy rule (where everybody was always suspicious of all others), but there were a number of duplicates (saw this even though all prisoners had the same haircuts, women: short bob & men: even shorter).

– The City seemed a little more sketchy/rustic/poorer than all of the other major cities we visited, but it definitely wasn’t the shit hole that a bunch of people made it out to be before we got there.

– Once again, the men, like in the rest of SEAsia have these amazing mole hairs on their faces that grow out about 3 inches/8 cm, everything else they shave or can’t grow (I heard somewhere that they are good luck).

– One can definitely notice that there aren’t as many older Khmer people as there were older people in the other countries in the region (a still highly visible aspect of the genocide).

– We are convinced (especially Julie) that we need to buy these awesome PJ’s that all the ladies here are wearing (usually top and bottom matching) all day…

– It is really odd using US Dollars here (with Khmer Riel as the small change 4000=1). Got a $2 bill! (a couple we met didn’t realize that they are legal tender in the US, you just don’t see them much) But apparently they often don’t accept them at stores/food stalls in Cambodia (though they are more than willing to include them in your change).

 

North East Cambodia – Kratie & Banlung

– The red dirt/soil up here is amazing (much like Cuba), but it can be quite awful when it’s all dust

– In Kratie, just a couple of minutes up the road from the Irrawaddy dolphins was this amazing place with boardwalks, thatch roofs & hammocks everywhere over these small rapids (whish I could spend every weekend there forever…). There were some kids doing flips and posing for pictures after we went onto a sandbar past where the people use the toilet, pretty impressive acrobatics.

– All the kids in the northeast are really cute when you ask if you can take their pictures (they never ask for anything, candy or money, unlike all the other touristy places we go), and they are always very excited to see themselves in the picture.

– In the north especially, but really most places in Cambodia, the locals are all wearing soccer/football jerseys (literally half of all people, mostly young to middle age men and women, the older ladies all wear PJ’s).

 

Siem Reap & Angkor Park

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Angkor Map

– “Siem Reap is a tourist town that I like.” – Julie remark at the market

– The city is completely transformed at night, with ten times more people out and about (having all just left a long day at the temples).

– Was fun to go to Angkor Wat at sunset (instead of that hill where everybody else goes) and be slowly chased out by the guards at closing (like 20 other people doing this too). Was actually able to get a couple of photos of the temple with a few, if any people, ruining the view.

– Waking up in the morning and leaving the hostel by 5 and arriving at 6 at Bayon, all alone, was super frigging awesome! Walking around, losing your bearings, all dark, mysterious faces on the stones, etc…. We did the same thing at Ta Prohm the next day and it was equally as awesome, but two British girls beat us by half an hour (but they hadn’t entered yet because it was still too dark to see anything).

– It was so amazing climbing over the boulders and stones at the fallen temples (especially Ta Nei, Ta Prohm, Beng Mealea, etc.). Though it was awkward to be “contributing” to the slow destruction of the temples… but everybody else was way worse, and I was always very careful never to step on any of the carved stones.

– The temple being restored by the Chinese (every temple has different countries helping to restore them in their own unique ways: France, India, Japan, Germany, etc.) looks disappointingly fake, with new stones of different colors everywhere.

– Our guidebook ($10 in Phnom Penh with a week to read it vs. $5-8 in the Temple park) is obviously a rip-off used there for the last 15 years, but also awesome. I would read it twice before we visited a temple (so I could walk around a take pictures of the stuff I had learned about), while Julie studied it and used it as a guide at the temples (though sometimes it was quite hilariously out of date).

– Saw a gutter punk looking white guy without shoes on at least three occasions throughout the day… I dunno… I guess its relatively clean, but still, how does one climb over all those sharp rocks and steps?

– Its really interesting to see the legacy of when the region changed between the religions (Hinduism, two types of Buddhism). Lots of whole Buddhas scraped off walls, same with some of the faces of Hindu gods. Looked way different from the general looting that has taken place (& it’s vast).

 

Koh Ta Kiev

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Koh Ta Kiev Map

– Various thoughts while sitting on beach/patio: It’s so cool here with all the little beaches where you are alone and feel like you have the whole island to yourself. Perfect setup they have here at Coral Beach, right before the rocks start, and after all the other bungalows and day trippers, with 3/4 nice little beaches.

– What I’ve “accomplished” since I’ve been here (on the island): sewed on all of the flag patches I had, made a piece of “art” – an intense dream catcher thingy with stuff found on the beach, started working on my journal again, and learned a couple of new fun games.

– One of my favorite things to do on a vacation (or in life really): have a nice breakfast, with coffee, sitting on a small dock over the clear blue water with an amazing view of the gently lapping waves of the bay…

– Perfect situation #10 (I don’t remember all, they just happen…): sitting on the tree house level platform with the sun going down, with a group of people playing music and singing on the beach below (some of them had great voices).

– Different times at the Absinthe Distillery: First Night – with staff , had the green one, kittens playing all around me, guy (owner?) asleep in corner. Second Time – with Chilean couple, show up right as they are closing, kittens asleep, guy asleep in corner, tried the strongest one. Third Time – no drink, changed camera battery, guy asleep in corner.

– Funny moment when a group of Italian girls from Florence and Rome were arguing about who’s city had the greatest culture/legacy.

– Pretty sad when we had to leave the island. I had an amazing time doing nothing, but would not have made it much longer there… tummy issues, wanted a hot shower (had only washed with soap maybe two times), no more sand…

– … only to be stuck at a shithole place for two terrible nights with termite noises, Rat poo, and the giant accompanying Rat (who moved rocks and wasn’t afraid of us at all!).

Otres Beach One

– I imagine this to be what Phu Quoc (Vietnam) was like 5/10 years ago. But here there are more shacks (“bungalows”), a flat red dirt road, and a bunch of empty beach chairs.

– Said “Aokun” (Thank you) for the first time in a week (was a little weird how it was like a western peoples utopia on the island). I was also odd looking at some of these beach places (bar/restaurant/hostel things) where it looks like 5-10 western kids (“employees”) were doing nothing , one “working” at the bar while all the others took up all the bar chairs, while the one Khmer guy or girl does all the actual work.

– Ladies and Girls selling trinkets in Cambodia (at least the southern part) be like: “If you don’t buy now, you promise, if you buy later, you buy from me? Pinkie promise?”

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“Rockclimbing” the Outskirts of Angkor….Beyond Siem Reap, Cambodia

Our dismay at the number of tourists at Ta Prohm (Tombraider location) the day before prompted a 5 am start on our second day visiting the Angkor Archaeological Park. We hopped on our e-bikes and headed in the pitch dark to the site. We weren’t the first to arrive, but the two British girls we encountered at the entrance with their slumbering tuk-tuk driver had been waiting for an hour. They ventured in with us, just as the sky was starting to lighten. We didn’t see them again. It was a bit too dark when we first arrived but we waved flashlights at some interesting parts, which made for some cool photos. Large strangler figs and silk cotton trees devour the stones, as this temple has been left largely to show the state it was “discovered” in.

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My favorite spot
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Riki’s favorite spot

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It is one of the most popular temples after Angkor Wat, probably because of its immense size and maze of corridors, blocked and open. And maybe because of the fame brought from Angelina Jolie’s part in Tombraider. In many places, additional support beams and posts have been added for stability and safety. It was a completely different feeling wandering the ruins without the hordes of tour groups snapping photos and being overly loud. I was even able to spot the “stegasaurus” bas-relief, though it took me 40 minutes to locate. Who knows if they had found bones from dinosaurs, or just made up this imaginary creature. It does look remarkably like a stegasaurus, though the head is more boar-like. We spent about two hours here and I only ran into Riki once, to show him my favorite spot. Turns out it was one of his too, also discovered sometime that morning. Then the tour groups started showing up and we bolted for the next temple.

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See the “dinosaur”?

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Pre Rup is a temple-mountain, with loads of laterite, an iron-rich clay used to make many blocks here. It has a dimpled finish though and was thus often finished in stucco or stone. The temple was very tall and we were able to see out over the trees, though all you saw was more trees, and a tiny bit of East Mebon (the temple after the next one). The laterite walls here were stacked in an odd arrangement to me. Rather than overlapping like bricks, they were stacked in a grid. One directly on top of the other, so the joints in the walls were straight vertical. Something that we learned in school was not stable, but since these are still standing, there must be some trick to it. Or they were reconstructed incorrectly?

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At this point we were a bit worried about the life left in our e-bike batteries, but we decided to risk it and head out 4 km to the east (we were told the bikes could go 40 kms before dying and weren’t sure how far the next charging station was).

I’m very glad we made it out there, as this turned out to be one of my favorite temples. Banteay Samre is a bit isolated and doesn’t receive as many tourists as the other temples. It has tall concentric laterite walls enclosing a tight cluster in the central sanctuary. It has been completely restored and has so many layers and a moat-like interior. Despite following a Spanish tour around trying to figure out what was going on, my Spanish is not good enough to discern if it was a moat or just a raised temple. Either way, it was unique to what we had seen so far.

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Cat spotting

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We backtracked the 4 km to East Mebon, the top of which we had viewed earlier from Pre Rup. East Mebon also appears raised, but actually it was surrounded by water, but is no longer, thus giving the illusion of a temple-mountain, though it is not. A large draw for this temple is the elephants placed on all corners. One is currently being restored, so they are in various states of completeness. There were also some incredible lintels at the top, one showing a monster eating an elephant. This temple also was largely constructed with bricks, unlike many we have seen. The bricks are heavily pitted, presumably to help decorative stucco adhere, though it is long gone.

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Next stop, Ta Som, just to the north. This is a smaller temple, where many of the lintels have been left displayed on the ground rather than in their original positions.  It has a huge tree growing over its east gate, which is a fabulous sight, but ominous, as when these trees ultimately die, they often leave little stability left for the stones, which can crumble.

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Along the north side of the park is Neak Pean, a completely different type of temple. This one is basically a crucifix of ponds surrounding a small monument. We didn’t spend much time here as most of the area has been cordoned off and many people were already crowding the small viewing area.

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Preah Khan is a huge complex, possibly a former Buddhist monastery. We dropped our e-bikes outside at a charging point and headed in for about an hour and half, hoping that would be enough charge to get us all the way back to Siem Reap, where we had to return the bikes. Preah Khan is a maze of rubble and cleared areas, easy to get lost in. A unique round-columned two-storied structure, of unknown use is one of the highlights at this complex. There are some incredible hidden niches filled with carvings that can only be seen if you know what to look for, or get lost, as I did.

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With our bikes charged, we headed back south to Angkor Wat to check out the tower, which was closed the first night we visited and the bas-reliefs that we had not had time to see. The views from the top as the sun was lowering in the sky were great. And we watched as monkeys left the forest and climbed onto the roofs of the outer galleries. Using our guide book, we followed a path around the bas-reliefs depicting all sorts of stories, including victories, losses, heaven and hell. We left before sunset as we had been gone 13 hours and were exhausted from climbing over rocks all day.

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So many tourists
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So many tourists still
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Tower
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Top of tower selfie
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So many tourists
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Outer walls
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Inside walls
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Art scene really emphasizing the bas-reliefs
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More bas-reliefs
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Was minding my own business when this guy showed up

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Needless to say, we needed another rest day, physically and mentally. Too many temples can be overwhelming, especially when you are too tired to realize the uniqueness of each. We sent out our laundry (except for socks), caught up on some blogging/pictures and went for a walk to find an information center and prints of the layouts of temples (both of which we failed to locate).

LAST DAY – MORE ROCKS

Our final day, we arranged for a tuk-tuk ($40 all day) to pick us up at 6:30 am. He was about 15 minutes late, but we didn’t think much of it as he was good-natured and spoke English pretty well. However, not long into our drive, we realized something was definitely wrong with his bike. We were going at a snail’s pace, being passed by all the other tuk-tuks, even those crowded with fat tourists. We had left early to try to avoid the crowds and it was clear we weren’t going to be as early as we would have liked. We were headed to Banteay Srei, some 25 km from the other monuments. We managed to arrive before most of the big tour groups and walked around the relatively small temple with only a handful of other people. This temple is miniature compared to the others and made of pink sandstone. It also has a plethora of exquisite carvings, everywhere. I shadowed an Engligh speaking tour guide as he explained the details, before finding Riki just as numerous giant tour buses arrived.

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Getting ready for the “tour”
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Inner sanctuary
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Chinese tourists bring candy for the kids, perpetuating the problem of the kids hanging out at the temples. Oh, and rotting their teeth.
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Intricate carvings as if “done by women”

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Our last stop was Beng Mealea, some 40 km from the Angkor temples, but in the same direction as we had already travelled. Unfortunately, our slow tuk-tuk was not the only problem. When our driver pulled over to buy water for the slightly smoking motorbike, he also asked for directions. He’d never been there. Great. It took over an hour, with some very nervous moments by our driver, where he obviously didn’t know if we were going the right way, but we eventually made it. This temple is on private property and not included in the three-day pass we had bought for the other temples. We had to pay an additional $5 (did I mention everything is in dollars here) to enter, but it was definitely worth it. This temple is one Riki had shown me months and months ago as one he wanted to visit. He knew it would be harder to visit, but the pictures were amazing. We almost decided not to go, as the $40 for the tuk-tuk is a big hit in our budget. But that doubt was gone pretty much as soon we arrived. Because its much further than the other temples, not many people make the journey, though that appears to be changing as the roads get better. We ate our pb&j at the entrance and ventured into the un-restored and ruinous temple.

Wooden walkways have been added to make it easier for tourists to clamber over the rocks, which are everywhere. The central sanctuary is literally a pile of rubble. Riki ventured to the top and could see stones with intricate carvings in the pile. You can still climb over many rocks, but some areas have been deemed unsafe and the rangers in the temple will yell at you if you enter one of those areas (not a personal experience we had, but one we witnessed). We spent almost three hours here and the pictures really do a better job explaining than I could.

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We had a long, slow, bumpy and dusty ride back, with a few trips to splash more water on the motorbike.  Riki made a lot of little friends along the way.   We rewarded ourselves with a $2 fish massage (including free beer) and bought our bus tickets to Battambang for the next day.

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Where we “gassed up” and bought water to cool off the bike. Gas comes in Black Label and Red label. Same price.

 

Lots of rocks @ Angkor Wat….Siem Reap, Cambodia

 We left Banlung in a standard minibus, cramped and speeding down the road, in hopes of meeting our connection in Stung Trang, which should have been waiting on the side of the road for us. Well it wasn’t waiting, but it showed up a few minutes after we pulled over at a deserted intersection. We switched to the empty minibus, expecting the worst, to be put in a packed vehicle for the next 6-8 hours. But we were wrong and the rest of our trip to Siem Reap involved only 5 other people and few stops. Riki was even able to lie down in the back seat and nap. A far cry from our normal bus trips. We even arrived after only 5 hours.

We checked into our guesthouse, a recommendation from an American from Kansas we met at the crater lake in Banlung. A steal at $7 a night, but pretty much deserted as far as we could tell. That night we walked to the central market and tried to get our bearings. We had heard so many different opinions about what to do here and the order to do it in that we were a bit overwhelmed and hoped to meet some people who could offer more insight. We were delighted to find 50 cent draft beers and an American/Swiss couple who had done a quick one day tour of the temples, a bit too speedy for our liking.

The next day, we wandered Siem Reap and bought provisions for the upcoming marathon of temple-viewing. We had heard food near the temples was expensive and it was best to bring your own. Fortunately, we found a bakery and a giant grocery store (not a common sight here). Riki was even able to stock up on Goldfish, and if you know Riki, that is heaven on earth for him.

There are a few options for tickets to see the temples. You can get a one day ($20), three day ($40), or seven day pass (all of which involve getting your picture taken and printed on a paper card). They also all allow you to buy the day before, at 5 pm and enter for free to see the sunset, not counting as one of your days. We hired a tuk-tuk and for an astronomical $7 he agreed to take us to pick up our tickets, watch the sunset at Angkor Wat and bring us back. Angkor Wat is not highly frequented for its sunsets. Most people go there for the sunrise, as you can get a good silhouette as the sun rises behind the temples. So when we arrived at Angkor Wat, the tuk-tuk driver was a little confused why we wanted to stay there the whole time and not continue on to the hill where most people watch the sunset. But this turned out to be the first of a long list of good decisions we made this week. There were not very many people and the crowd thinned rapidly as the tour groups were ushered to the sunset hill. We were too late to climb the tower, but we wandered through the massive complex until we were forced to leave because it was closing. Dilly-dallying the whole way, we managed to be some of the last few to leave and Riki was able to snap some shots with little to no people in them (a rare thing we discovered).

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When we first arrived….Angkor Wat
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I broke out the extra camera for the first time, fortunately for you, none of my pictures are included in these posts as we “forgot” to upload them to the computer.
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As Angkor was closing and we were being herded out the door.

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The next morning at 5 am, we took our rented bikes ($2 each) and rode about 40 minutes into the park. It was pretty chilly and very dark, though the bikes had lights that were supposed to turn on when you started going fast enough. Riki’s worked and mine worked occassionally if you kicked it hard enough or went over the right kind of bump. Though commonly just called Angkor, the archaeological park is home to many many temples, some huge, most not. The Khmer kings a thousand plus years ago would each build a new capital, but not that far from the old ones. The temple part was the only part built of stone. The surrounding city was built of wood and thus did not stand the test of time. Consequently, the remaining stone temples are a bit spread out, with lots of walls, gates and towers remaining. It is possible to reach some on bikes comfortably, but the rest are a bit far and require a tuk-tuk, private car, or as we discovered, an e-bike.

The first temple we reached was Bayon, about 45 minutes before sunrise. The place was deserted and we clamored with our flashlights into the maze of stone. We had counted on being alone and only saw a quiet couple appear just as the sun was rising over the many giant stone faces of Bayon. The sun slowly changed the faces from purple to orange as it rose higher in the sky.

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Morning mist

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Like many of the temples we were to encounter, this one had never been fully completed. For almost an hour I followed the guide we had bought and read about the incredible bas-reliefs depicted in every corner of the temple. Incredible chiseled images of war and day-to-day life lined the walls, some twenty feet tall. And then, just as other people started showing up, having already seen the sun rise at Angkor, I was studying a particularly gruesome image of people being eaten by alligators and a tiger engulfing a man and engorging his claws into his stomach, I was startled by a movement to my right. An agile monkey (as if they aren’t all agile) scampered up the wall and sat right above the scene I was studying.

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Alligator
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Tiger eating a man

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And there were a lot more, coincidentally arriving just as the tour buses arrived from Angkor Wat. And that was our cue to move on. This was our second good decision. The temple complexes have become even more popular, with so many tourists that it can be overwhelming, especially when visiting a place that was meant to be pretty serene. Our itinerary became based on avoiding the crowds as much as possible, something I highly advise to future visitors.

Our second stop was Baphoun, just north of Bayon. It is a largely restored 11th century pyramid with a 16th century giant reclining Buddha at its west wall. Apparently, the very top tower was dismantled to make this Buddha, as they couldn’t find any of the top pieces when it was being restored. Many of the temples have been restored in the past hundred years or so when a French group re-discovered the area and started putting resources together to reassemble the temples. Some temples have been left largely in their dilapidated conditions, either because of lack of funds or just to show the state they were discovered in.

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Playing tour guide….or getting in the way of the shot. Depends who you ask.

The tour groups started showing up and we high-tailed it a little further north to the Terrace of the Leper King. This 20 foot tall terrace flanked the entrance to a Royal Palace and had two sets of carved walls, one inner and one outer. I overheard a guide tell his group it was because they wanted to expand the terrace, so they just built another wall further out and filled in the gap. It was later excavated so you can walk between the two walls and see both sets of carvings.

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We decided not to hire a guide for any of our three days and bought a book ahead of time to read up and be our own guides (see pic above). This didn’t keep me from following around the English speaking guides I came across though. I love the elephants with the supporting tusks and the five-headed horse. The Terrace of the Elephants, flanking the other side of the entrance, surprisingly had less awesome elephant carvings than that of the Leper King terrace.

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Next stop, Preah Pithu Group, oddly named Temples T, U, V, X and Y. These were a bit off the main route, almost deserted and really cool. I don’t think much is known about them, otherwise they would have better names.

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Lots of lichen

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We continued east, to guess what, the East Gate, or Victory Gate. Here, we got off our bikes and walked them up the dirt wall to the path at the top, where we rode south to the next gate, the Gate of the Dead. Apparently, if you came back from fighting your enemies and had won, you could come through the Victory Gate. If you had lost, you had to hang your head and come through the Gate of the Dead. Both were pretty incredible and remarkably similar for having such different purposes, in my opinion.

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Just outside the gates of Angkor Thom (which houses the aforementioned temples), we stopped briefly at two temples that have undergone extensive reconstruction. Thommanom was redone in the 1960’s and has interesting concrete ceilings.

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Ta Keo is being re-done by a Chinese organization. We didn’t even climb up this one. The reconstruction had too much smooth concrete, which made it unappealing to us.

This next one was my favorite temple of the day, though second favorite experience (after the sunrise at Bayon). North of Ta Keo along a sandy overgrown path is Ta Nei. It is not on the main route and is largely in its natural decay. The central area is cluttered with piles of stones and the outside is not much different. We sat and ate our peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and encountered a guy and his guide looking for a lost brown wallet, no luck unfortunately. Probably one of the worst temples to lose something that would just blend right in or get stuck between the rubble.

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Giant tree we ate under
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Ta Nei inner area – all rubble
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Lunch spot

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Ta Prohm is known for being the place that Tombraider was filmed and it is HUGE. We arrived and immediately encountered dozens of tour groups. Having looked forward to this one because of its overgrowth and protruding trees, I gave it my best shot and sped for the far side, hoping it would be less crowded. It wasn’t and I made an executive decision that we would have to come back the next day before the crowds arrived. At this point, I had lost Riki (very easy when he is off photographing things). I headed for our meeting point and sketched until he came to the same realization as I had and returned, overwhelmed by all the people getting in the way of his pictures. Third good decision.

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Too many tourists

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Right down the road is Banteay Kdei. There were far fewer people, lots of lichen and is much smaller. A good one to end on as the view from across the road is nice out over the Srah Srang – a huge royal bath.

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Entry

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We returned almost 12 hours after we had left, exhausted and not sunburned. We took the next day off to do some shopping and catch up on some blogging. We also did some more research on the temples and rented e-bikes ($10/day), which are essentially electronic scooters with pedals that you aren’t supposed to use because it wastes more battery. Seemed backwards to me, but it was cheaper and less hassle than having a tuk-tuk driver hurrying us along all day. Fourth good decision.