Day 17 – Angkor Temples

11 Mar

A later start today saw us heading towards the UNESCO world heritage site of Angkor. Angkor Wat is just one of the 293 temples covering 401 square kilometres. The Angkor period covered 632 years from 802AD and 20 kings.

Today we visited 7 of the temples. All different. Following the hospitalisation of one member of the group, we were all topped up with water, sun cream and emergency toilet paper.
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We collected our 3 day passes and headed off to the first temple of the day. Six towers at Preah Ko. A good introduction.
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Then on to Bakong – Elephants without trunks, and a steep climb. Each of the Kings built a Mountain Temple where they worshiped and where their ashes would eventually be scattered. This was one of them. Following sensible logical naming, a mountain temple was no where near a mountain.
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And the last of the Roluos group was at Lolei, where we also witnessed some monks beating a drum as though it was their mother in law. Also some dodgy scaffolding for the restorers to work on.
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Lots of barefoot kids everywhere we went.

The last temple before lunch was called Banteay Srei. It was a good 30km out of Siem Reap. The main Angkor Wat is only 6km. We therefore managed to spend the time to recover in the air conditioned bus from the heat of the day. Our driver was excellent at opening the door and keeping the engine running as required.
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This temple was famed for its pink sandstone. Other temples had been built with brick and decorative stucco.
Most of the brick temples with built with unfired bricks and then the whole structure wad filled with sand and burnt in situ. Means they didn’t need any mortar.

The monkeys were recently restored copies and had the pink bits on show. Not a lot of pink elsewhere though.

Nearly every temple has or had a moat. The site only exists and survived because of the irrigation system. So much so that the Kings ordered irrigation built before the temples.
image Julian managed to strip off in the car park much to the surprise of the young tshirt sellers. $3 buys you anything these days.

We stopped for lunch and we took the medicinal opportunity to top up our salt levels – with chips. One of the most expensive items on the menu. Suckers for Westerners.

Restaurant staff managed to upset me considerably when they moved the large fan from my back to the table of new customers immediately after we had paid. Stood and flashed my belly at a different fan. Think I might have been dripping on the floor at that point. Temperature at least 35 – feels like 40+.
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I had ordered chicken for lunch and it was definitely fresh as you could see them walking about under our table.
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Moving on we headed to East Mebon. Beginning to think that a temple is a temple is a temple.
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That all changed when we reached Ta Prohm which had been left as the jungle reclaimed it – with trees growing through the buildings. An impressive site although it included a long walk in and out again. 1km felt like 20km! Every Chinese, Japanese and Korean tourist in the world was at this one. We had been spoilt at the previous ones.
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Straight out of Tomb Raider. Felt like Lara Croft as I took the time to explore every nook and cranny.

By this point there was more water outside me than inside and I headed for an ice cream. The stall is in that photo somewhere, but the exit was so busy with shoeless children trying to force postcards in your face or tuk tuk drivers wanting your business that I couldn’t actually take a picture of it.
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Ended up buying a shirt. Might not last but it was only £3!

Our last temple of the day was Pre Rup, where we climbed to the top to watch the sunset. Arriving an hour early, we tried various games to keep our attention and our prized spot in front of all the other tourists. I spy “T” was popular – temples or trees. Unfortunately the better view was likely from the bottom of the temple. A disappointing sunset came and went and we all traipsed back to the bus.
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Heading back to the hotel in Siem Reap, we saw some locals swimming in the moat – would have liked to cool down any way at this point. Also a troop of monkeys had to be honked at to get off the road.

Washing my suntan dirt off in the shower, we met in the hotel bar where Jane had escaped the hospital and was looking 2000% better. Apparently it was a parasite and could be treated with antibiotics. Her insurance had also sorted everything out very quickly. Taking it easy for the next few days though.

The hardened social animals headed in tuk tuks to “Pub Street” for some food and I found a Crocodile burger to satisfy the hunger.
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Knackered, we returned home after one last cocktail – in the wrong lane and on the wrong side of the road. Think we skipped a corner by driving through a petrol station forecourt as well.

Ah well, early start tomorrow, so better get some sleep.

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