The Two Gallivants

“Fotofit” – Angkor Wat

angkor1

Welcome, wilkommen, sohm swaakohm to this brand new photo essay series called “FotoFit”. Basically anywhere we go in the world where pictures and videos will do the talking better than our writing would, we’ll not bore you with our chitter chatter and keep it mainly visual. We had another photo periodic called “Ohne Alkohol” for the productive things I (Declan) got up to when I had given up alcohol back in the UK, as I couldn’t seem to behave myself when I got drunk! But I’ve had beers again since we started our RTW trip at the beginning of Jan’14 and I’m being a good boy, well…mostly anyway 🙂 so that series is on the back burner for the time being.

Riteo, on with the show. First up in this new series is the ridiculously mind blowing, stone clad sprawl of the Angkor Wat temple complex hidden in the Cambodian jungle near Siem Reap. Built first as a Hindu temple in the 12th century, later being used for Buddhist worship, follow below our journey round the largest religious monument on Earth and its satellite temples. We’ll throw in a little written info as well so you have an idea of what you’re looking at!

DAY 1 
Angkor Wat

Our first day at the temples started in the afternoon as we faffed about in the morning deciding on whether to get a tuk-tuk or cycle. We went with pushbikes and rented a couple for 2 dollars each per day from our hostel, Mad Monkey, in Siem Reap. We made the scenic 8Km journey, paying our 40 dollars each for a three day pass en route (the ticket office is well sign posted). They do check the passes, so get one to avoid a red face when they turn you away at the temples for being a cheapskate!

Our first stop was the head honcho, Angkor Wat…

The vast moat surrounding the Angkor Wat site and the bridge leading to the main entrance…

angkor2

…the magnificent grounds and other worldly sight of the main temple…

angkor3

…a lone monk praying…

angkor4

…a greedy monkey, Emily pretending to be lost in thought and surrounded by the loose pillars that haven’t been put back in place yet. You can see from these pillars how they built the temples, like Lego! No concrete used here my friend…

 

angkor5

angkor6angkor7

 

 

 

 

 

 

…the intricate detail that is all over Angkor Wat giving some understanding of the excruciating time and effort that went into carving and organising the stone work on this massive structure…

angkor8…and rounding off the first day just outside the temple watching the sunset.

angkor9

DAY 2

Emily braved my considerable very early morning wrath and woke me pre 5am the next morning so we could cycle to Angkor Wat for its famous sunrise. If you’re thinking of doing the same, make sure you have lights for your bike as there is little to no other illumination along the way pre daybreak (we used headtorches wrapped around our baskets thanks to Emily’s ingenious brainwave!).

Just don’t expect to get the place to yourself, even if you make it there for a very painful time of the morning…

angkor11 angkor12

…but your stinging tired eyes and muffled brain should soon be snapped out of their rebellion as you register you’re experiencing something you’ll remember forever.

angkor13 angkor14

Leaving Angkor Wat we circled back east to do an anti-clockwise tour of the other temples…

Map of Angkor Temple Complex

Prasat Kravan

A small temple built in the 10th century, so pre-dating Angkor Wat, to honour Vishnu…

Prasat1…it has very detailed and beautiful stone carvings inside, although it was too small for much exploration so we quickly moved on…

prasat2

Banteay Kdei 

This temple, which was built around the same time as Angkor Wat, has crazy vegetation galore, from swamps to jungle to huge trees making a stand against the stones. It is remarkable. 

We came across a Cambodian traditional music group there (check out their music in our video at the bottom of this post) and lots of children trying to sell us tat for a dollar, one of whom followed a young American guy for about half hour crying for “one dolla, just one dolla” until the American ran away! Although that was pretty funny, it was sad to see young kids in such a predicament and I guess it will get worse and more will be recruited to the salesforce as more and more of Westerners head to the temples.

As we left we witnessed nature in all its beautiful severity, a dead scorpion being stripped to its shell by an army of ants!

Banteaykdei1 banteaykdei4 Banteaykdei3Srah Srang

Just across the road from Banteay Kdei is Srah Srang, or “The Royal Bath” which was first dug in the 10th century…

Sras1

…although it’s the local kids who have the run of the place now!

sras2

Pre Rup

This 10th century temple mountain, which was believed to be used for funerals, offers great views of the surrounding countryside…

Prerub2prerub3 Prerub2Prerub1

East Mebon

I had lost my Angkor map, so we went too far looking for outer laying temples and added 20k worth of road to our journey! We got back on track though and found East Mebon, another 10th century temple to was built in a very similar style to Pre Rup, save its resident elephants on guard…

eastmebon1 eastmebon2

Ta Som

…and on to the rickety delights of Ta Som, a small 12th century temple…

tasom1 tasom2

Neak Poan

Neak Poan was a 12th century hospital and its structure was based on the ancient Hindu belief of balance. Four connected pools represent water, earth, fire and wind and the people at the time believed that going into these pools would balance the elements and so cure disease. However, on the day that we went the pools were all fenced off, but the spooky walk there made it worthwhile anyway…

NeakPoan1 neakpoan2neakpoan3

Preah Khan

We finished the day at Preah Khan, a temple that has been left largely unrestored and thank fuck for that. Check out the photogenic vegetation giving the buildings a beating…

preahkhan1preahkhan3preahkhan4

DAY 3
Angkor Thom

With the last day pass, we headed to the massive Angkor Thom (means “Great City”) complex and took in the awe-inspiring structures and carvings…

angkorthom1…fed the monkeys…

PicMonkey Collage…relaxed in the beautiful grounds…

angkorthom6

…stumbled across a live movie set…

angkorthom7

and watched the sun go down from the heights of Baphuon Temple.

angkorthom8

And finally, here’s a (very) amateur video of our time at the temples. Enjoy!

Declan

[THIS ARTICLE WAS ORIGINALLY POSTED ON OUR PREVIOUS SITE ON 10 MARCH 2014]

Leave a Reply