Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Tomb Raiders

Ever have Indiana Jones fantasies?

Without a doubt, the main reason to come to Siem Reap is to view the breathtaking temples at Angkor Wat. Built during the Khmer Empire's height of power between 842 and 1432 AD, the temples rise out of the jungle to demonstrate the force of this civilization in Southeast Asia. There's nothing like that first sight of one in the distance as you approach!

The 216 staring faces of Bayon Temple

Interestingly, when Angkor Wat was at its peak and held a population of over a million people, London only had a population of 50,000. (I'm embarrassed to admit I knew nothing about this ancient civilization of Angkor Wat until Angelina Jolie starred in Tomb Raider) On another interesting note, Angkor Wat was somewhat of a secret until the French "discovered" and revealed it to the world in 1860.

Wall Reliefs at Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom
We are siamese if you please. (Okay, I know this is not the land of Siam, but I couldn't resist)

Sawadee pose at Bayon Temple

How do I get a hold of the fish costume on the end for Halloween this year?

I especially love how the jungle is slowly swallowing up the temples...

In ancient times, travel through the temple complex was done by none other than- elephants.

Cambodia Travel Tip #3: While these days you can actually visit the temples on the back of an elephant, I recommend hiring a tuk tuk driver for the day to tour you around the temples and city. We paid about $15 for ours, and he took us anywhere we wanted to go, including areas outside the temple complex. And while at one point, he seemed as though he too was going to take us home for a feast of chickens, we had a special bond with him and used his services for 3 days.
Me, striking the Cambodian universal tuk tuk driver afternoon pose

Cambodia Travel Tip #4: If you plan on touring temples for several days, start with the lesser known places and gradually work your way up to the more resplendent. You'll avoid temple fatigue that way... trust me, they start to look the same after a few hours in the blaring sun.

Pilgrimage to the temples... monks, tuk tuks, tourists


Shannon OD said...

That was one of my favorite parts too - the fact that the trees and earth were slowly taking back the land and eating up these ancient temples. Great photos!

Kirste said...

This looks pretty amazing! I have never been to the far east and I really want to make it soon. Happy New Year!

Ekua said...

Did you have a favorite temple? Watching the sunrise at Angkor Wat and sunset at Ta Prohm were my most amazing moments, but Bayon was definitely my most favorite temple. I love the faces!

Mary and Sean said...

I can only imagine how these temples must have looked when they were found with trees growing over them for the first time!

Mary and Sean said...

Go for it! You won't be disappointed!

Mary and Sean said...

I also thought sunset at Angkor Wat was really amazing. We have a little story about that I'll post soon, but I agree with you that Bayon was something special. It was my favorite too

Stacie said...

I really want to see this...had a friend that went a few years ago and he said it was the highlight of his Asian experience...Happy New Year!

Mary and Sean said...

I'd say it's one of the highlights for me since we've been here as well. I recommend it!

Fly Girl said...

What an adventure! Tepmples and tuk tuks are amazing in general but your experiences sounds sublime. I will be emailing you recipes for black cake and sorrell soon.

Mary and Sean said...

Fly girl,
Can't wait to make the black cake and hibiscus drink. Thanks!


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