Category Archives: Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat.

I did it. I answered the 4.45am alarm call and was present, correct and sober in the lobby at 5.15. Jumped into car, driven by hotel employee, and sped off into the darkness. Not many people around at that time of the morning, in fact it was obvious that the only ones around were making the same pilgrimage, couples in tuk tuks, couples on bicycles, others in cars. It’s not far to the main gate where I bought a three day pass, $20.00, then on again, into the darkness. Parked in massive lot, will I ever find this white Camry again, and clutching water, camera, flashlight and ticket joined the silent throng moving to who knows where. Across what looked like a bridge, upstairs, downstairs and then it seemed we were in a massive theater like field. The flashes from cameras, the flashlight beams, the low chatter was vaguely reminiscent of waiting for the main act at an outdoor music festival. The best viewing area appeared to be in front of some sort of pond but not wishing to fall in I took a spot on the edge of the crowd and began the wait.
Dawn broke, a light pink, tried a couple of shots with the flash but all I got were photos of the grass in front of me! Waited a little bit longer and suddenly, there it was, that iconic view, the three towers, all clearly visible. I waited for the roar of the crowd, didn’t happen, this was not a rock festival even if it felt like one. Took lots of pictures of other people who asked me to, as one does, someone took my photo with my camera but I haven’t put it up for you to see. (family pressure may change that) Hey, we are talking 5.30am here, not looking my best, also I looked at my three day pass photo, not flattering.
I made my way to the Temple not entirely sure what to expect. It is so tremendously vast that even if all the dawn watchers had descended en mass there might be one person per acre. Actually they didn’t, I wonder where they all went. It had an eerie deserted feel, not at all spooky, but just this huge feeling of space, massive space. Sitting in a corner observing the central area, with the towers, I could take it all in without being disturbed by people, I moved to each of the four corners and the feeling was the same, tranquility springs to mind. Quite inspirational.
Angkor Wat is old, very old, even to a jaded Euro like me, we are talking eleventh/twelfth century here, these rocks have seen a lot. I was amazed, fascinated, impressed, overwhelmed, enchanted, charmed.
I did find the white Camry again and fell into the seat somewhat stunned, speechless, and just a little bit dazed. A reviving cup of tea and we were off, there are many many temples around Siem Reap, all related to Angkor, built at a similar time. More of those later.
Hope you like the photos.

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Angkor Wat at Dawn.

First view

There it was, that iconic sight in the pink dawn.

Would love to edit out the bottom of this photo. Just ignore it.

That is not my tablet !

The light got brighter, the subject clearer.

Daylight now.

Quite a lot of people gathered to watch the dawn

Look at that, a hot air balloon rising over the main gate.

I was getting carried away with camera angles. Like it ?

Definitely what I came for.

Managed to get all four towers but lost the light.

A very big and long Bas Relief

A tiny detail from very long Bas Relief

There were many Bas Reliefs. Don't worry I am not going to get all Bas Relief nerdy on you.

There were monkeys around and about.

There is a very big moat all the way round Angkor Wat.

Another view of the moat.

The main Gate into Angkor Wat complex, well one of four. Not designed for today's traffic.

Arrival in Siem Reap

To Cambodia we go, me and all the other holiday-makers from all round the World. So many different languages in the departure lounge at Luang Prabang it was a veritable Tower of Babel. Now we are on a prop plane 20,000 feet over the border with about thirty minutes to go.
I took the opportunity to revisit the alms giving/receiving ceremony at dawn this morning and discovered the cunning plan behind the chaos I beheld that first morning. Now that I know my way around town better I got off the bus at an earlier point than previously and cut down the back alleys to a street that parallels the great seething mass. Ha ha, local residents lined the sidewalk complete with rice baskets, ready for the procession and not a camera in sight. This then is the secret, avoid the chaos on Sisavangvong Road, this is presumably where the City Fathers want the cameras to go, and go one street over, towards the Mekong. You will have the street to yourself, well apart from the residents and the monks. I hope some photos come out (do we still say that?) as the sight of that Saffron ribbon heading down the street, unhindered, was mesmerizing.
Onward to Siem Reap, the gateway to the largest religious building in the World, Angkor Wat. I was greeted on arrival at the airport by the hotel’s tuk tuk driver and we headed off on the 7 km drive into town. First impressions, it’s hot, it’s wet, it’s dusty, it’s noisy, it bustles, there is food, everywhere, it is amazingly inexpensive, it looks like it just fell down and is being rebuilt. I absolutely love it. Oh,and holiday makers sitting with their feet in fish tanks!

This seems to be the thing to do, a fish pedicure.

A fish pedicure. A tuk tuk ride from the hotel to the restaurant area is a dollar, after which you would be hard pressed to spend more than ten dollars for a meal. There is great shopping, I saw some very attractive silk pashminas. I want a hat and a bag to carry stuff around, like a shopping bag. So back to the market after completing this.
Up again before dawn tomorrow and spend the day with a tuk tuk driver and a guide book. See the sun come up, walk about, take photos, hope to understand why the complex was built and how it has survived all these centuries. It is the chronological twin of Chartres, Winchester, and other European cathedrals.
Sorry if I sounded a bit blue last evening but it was Valentine’s day and I had hardly spoke to a soul all day.
Better now.
Thanks.