And our temple-tramping adventure continues deeper into the heart of Angkor. The Angkor Wat isn’t the only temple in the park. I used to believe that it is the only thing there, and I was overwhelmed by all the temples within Angkor. The Angkor Thom is an older temple complex and home to the most enduring empire in Khmer history. Inside Angkor Thom, we found the Bayon, Baphuon, and Phimeanakas temples. Also included in this is Ta Keo, Ta Prohm, and Banteay Kdei from the temples in towards the East. You may also see some elephant rides for hire starting from here. I think it starts from $20 and up. Wasn’t so sure because we didn’t ride the elephants.
The entrance to Angkor Thom is marked by the Bayon faces
The Bayon temple has the that Khmer architecture with a bajillion faces on ’em. Some say they’re the faces of emperors, some say they’re of the bodhisattvas
The faces are everywhere! They look serene and peaceful and looking at ’em all day just makes me wanna meditate. At this point too, I had the slightest inkling to smoke… it was hard to resist but I waited till lunch because the smoking area is near the makeshift restaurants near Angkor Thom. Climbing also seemed to be a challenge already, because it was nearing lunchtime and the sun was harsh. The steps were really just half steps and one wrong move will have you tumbling down in a very unclassy Jack and Jill manner. You don’t like that. Besides, Ta Keo has a lot of steeper stairs to climb so train while in Bayon!
These temples are actually functional temples, so tramp with care, silence, and respect.
The apsara engravings are still everywhere. These sprites guard the walls with utmost class.
Baphuon temple lies just beside Bayon
Baphuon looks like an Incan ceremonial sacrifice mountain. I get glimpses of the last scenes in Apocalypto where the Incans are sacrificing their POWs to prevent the solar eclipse. But that’s irrelevant, I just wanted you to have an idea how somehow it was creepy… and again steep. I no longer know how much I’ve used the word steep for this series. Haha!
Ta Keo was being renovated when we were there
Now if there was one temple steeper than the others, that would be Ta Keo. At 2pm, the scorching heat on our backs, and more than a dozen half steps and Jack and Jill waiting to happen, this one appeared to be a challenge. But when we got to the top, it all felt so good — having climbed all those steps, having looked all those dizzying heights. We can’t help it but to feel the air and spread our arms.
But the climbing down is much more difficult, actually.
And one the final temple we went to (jeez, by then we were thinking what a day it has been) is filled with Tomb Raider realness. This is where, Lara Croft – in all her pouting and temple tumbling prowess – battled the forces of evil. While it looked like a battle-ridden field, the battle is between man and nature, really. Ta Prohm is one of the heavily ruined (pun intended) temples in the archaeological complex. Trees sprung out from the temples and broke the stone walls. It looks like some kind of medieval war happened here, but with nets instead maybe?
This guy is just too hard to resist not to take a picture of, but I couldn’t muster the courage to do so upfront. So there.
And another hunk along Banteay Kdei (don’t know how to pronounce)
The Angkor Cafe provides refreshments for those who needs respite… and wifi!
The monks wander freely, and contrary to popular belief, talk to people.
After a whole day of temple tramping, we got a glimpse of the once great Khmer empire and a feel of Cambodia’s most essential religious and political history. I’d like to be back here soon and visit the other temples we missed. And all those cute guys doing a temple run as well! Teehee 😛