Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Angkor Wat - Siem Reap, Cambodia

Angkor Thom

Today we went to See the Angkor Thom Temple, part of the Angkor Wat Complex.  The temple complex itself is enormous, it is an ancient site of temples, some still in very good condition, and covers an area of some 400km (154 Square Miles).  It is the largest religious site in the world and is still being renovated and excavated today.  Built in the 11th and 12th century, Angkor Wat was built by King Survyarman II at the Angkorian Empire.  This main image that you normally see on television documentaries and travel shows is only the start of a huge maze of temples, walkways and other Buddhist Architecture.  We arrived for sunrise - the best time to see the complex as the sun rises from behind the Temple and creates a brilliant dark silhouette of the Angkor Towers.  Even at 5am during 'Low Season', it still draws hundreds tourists and Buddhists alike to the area every single day. 

Sunrise Spectators

I find it hard to see how this blog will do justice to just how fantastic and spectacular this place is, but I will do my best. 

We arrived at 5.20am by Tuk-Tuk (motorbike with a cart to carry visitors).  The sky had already started to turn light, but the sun had not yet come up.  The entry to the complex is $20 (£14).  It is quite expensive for an attraction for South East Asia, but a large proportion of the proceeds go towards renovating the sites and paying the huge army of cleaners and security to cover such a large area.

Angkor Moat

The moment we got out of our tuk tuk we were bombarded by street beggars trying to sell everything from Tour Guides, Books, Cold Refreshments, or simply asking for a Dollar.  We walked through the maze of kids and made our way to the main entrance.  After a 5 minute walk you arrive at a large doorway and through there you can see the temple towers.    The main walkway to Angkor Wat is made from cracked and cobbled limestone and the majority of the walkways have not been renovated which is good because you start to get an idea of the history of the place.  There are a lot of Buddhist's Monks on the site who love talking to westerners - and love having their picture taken.

Buddhist Monk at Angkor Wat

There is an amazing lake in front of the temple which is the main spot to snap pictures from.  By 5.35am the area was totally swarmed by tourists, so we decided to move away from this area and sit in a more isolated location to watch the sun come up.  As the sun rose behind the towers, you could hear the constant clicking and snapping of cameras and everybody took their opportunity to pose in front of the enormous towers.

Posing for the Camera

It was a truly amazing site, one I'll never forget and it has been my favourite sight I have seen on my travels so far.  I would recommend this place to absolutely anyone.  It is even worth flying all the way to Cambodia even if this is the only thing you'll see.  Breath taking.

More on this complex to come... for now, I'll leave you with some pictures.


Angkor Towers

Why Not!?

Lake at Angkor

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