Day 7 (December 1, 2010)   Ang Kor


  Our tuk tuk driver will take us along the long or short route of Ang Kor. The rest of the day is for relaxing in the hotel and take some dinner in Siem Reap.

Map of Ang Kor

   The long route is shown at map on green and the short one in red.


Lake with lotus around Ang Kor Wat   We’re awaken earlier naturally and fully rested, so we take our breakfast relaxed and make some time, although when we check the door of the hotel 10 minutes before 9 AM, our driver is already there.

   We’re driven directly to Ang Kor Wat and when we’re delivered on this wonder we can check there is a lot more crowded than any of the temples of yesterday. A stone bridge on the lake take us to the door and, on the other side, a long stone walkway with nagas at each side, goes to the most popular image of Cambodia. We can see part of the temple is on improvement works and the green covers can spoil the pictures. Here there are people everywhere and we go directly to the temple as today is hotter than yesterday and is hard being at sun. I’m wearing one of the Asiatic shirts bought yesterday and it’s the most fresh I can go.
Walkway to Ang Kor Wat
Views from Ang Kor Wat templeWalkway to the entrance to the complex

   A square building is all around the temple and we walk by this area looking for the way into the temple, which we find where a queue of people is already waiting to get in. The three teenage girls in front of us are taken off from the queue because they’re wearing too short. The wait is short and then, a steeper staircase is the way up to the temple. These are wooden steps from stairs built over the original ones, which are practically vertical. At top we can find some courtyards similar to the ones downstairs and magnificent views.

Inside Ang Kor WatInside Ang Kor Wat

Staircase to Ang Kor Wat

Inside Ang Kor Wat

   When leaving down by another staircase we’re paying attention to the dancers carved on the stone walls. We’re coming back to the tuk tuk when looking for a picture of the two of us with the temple and its reflect on the lake. I thought this lake would be larger and in the center, but it is small and sited at left.

Ang Kor Wat

   We then are driven through South Gate with the impressive sculptures of rows of brawny men holding a big naga at both road sides. The picture below is showing them, from the seven heads of these snakes to the gate at bottom. The warriors keep their head this time. This gate is taking to the larger area of the whole complex: Ang Kor Thom.

South Gate to Ang Kor Thom

   Passing through a zone full of monkeys, we reach Bayon temple, which is full of faces. It is magnificent because there are a lot of peaks with faces on each of their four sides.

Bayon temple in Ang KorDetail from Bayon temple

    Visitor can fully interact with these ancient temples: get in and explore every corner, touching and climb… Bayon is big and we get lost at our will inside for a while. No doubt this is one of the highlights here.

   Across the road there is a big area with several highlights to be visited. First is Baphuon, which looks as a Mayan pyramid full of khmer sculptures. Crossing to the other side, there is smaller replica of this temple. We end at the Terrace of the Elephants, where an old woman is learning Eva, as she is seated resting, how to say “ant” in khmer – I cannot tell, she just teach to my wife, not to me -. She asks me one dollar for a picture of them together.
Phimeanakas temple in Ang Kor

   We explore the Terrace of the Elephants,, which name comes because these animals are sculpted in the stone constantly. Sun is making us wanting to reach the end of the terrace, where there is shadow. Sellers keep offering things to us. At the end side of this long terrace the carvings change from elephants to small human figures and the name changes too to “Terrace of the Leper King”.

The Terrace of the Elephants in Ang Kor Thom

    Our tuk tuk is waiting for us at this point to take us to next temple, after Victoria Gate, which is really small and we explore in no time. Then, he stops in front of Ta Keo temple, which can be seen well from outside and looks like something we’ve already seen, so we ask to go on. It is too hot outside and we’re willing to save as much as possible. Also, we know which temple is next after it and we’re crazy for reaching Ang Kor’s crowning jewel: Ta Prohm. This temple is special and it can be said just by taking a look at the amount of coaches and sellers in front of the door. And it really is. We get into it with opened eyes paying attention to any natural form in the stone. We can see small tree with impossible shapes, but the big is inside, when exploring the temple and getting out to courtyards or turn a corner and meet the most amazing sights of this place.

Ta Prohm in Ang KorTa Prohm in Ang Kor

   This temple is the one in worst condition, but the reasons for this is the main attraction and the cause of its beauty. Trees are literally eating the stone walls making so abstract forms as if their trunks came from the sky and get deformed when hitting the buildings because they’re soft as cream. That would be an explanation if we didn’t know the trunks are hard and the trees are coming from ground to sky. With this, I can’t explain these forms.

Ta Prohm in Ang KorTa Prohm in Ang Kor

Ta Prohm in Ang Kor

Ta Prohm in Ang Kor

   Actually, everybody here is calling this temple as “Tomb Raider temple” because it was taken on that movie. The exit of the temple is on the back side of it, and there, the pressure of the sellers is huge. We’re surrounded and can barely understand any of them as they’re talking together. We make our efforts to get into our tuk tuk to run away from such harassment.
   It’s 1:30 PM and we’re finished with the temples. We’re delivered at hotel and pay to our driver, who has already booked our taxi to the border for tomorrow by 30$. There is a man with him with is not introduced in any moment and I think he is part of some kind of mafia behind these drivers. Our driver insists on taking us to Tonle Sap Lake and I answer I’m not interested on it, but I would accept a tour by Roulous. He is now the one who is not interested and just change the subject and say good bye commenting something about a bigger tip. I remember him I already gave 5$ for petrol yesterday and 2$ the first day to him. It seems they’re used to always asking for more, but we can see he is satisfied.

Prum Bayon Hotel's swimming pool   We are just a minute on our room as we’re crazy to get into the swimming pool. A bit later we’re out for our lunch. Before reaching Pub Street we take a couple of cocktails by 1.50$ each and then go back to the same place of yesterday to share another pizza. We’re happy and after that we go back to the market for the last shopping in Cambodia. I get sunglasses by 2$ in the same place I got the watches yesterday. In our way to our hotel, we spend our last 10$ in a pair of soups, some prepared mangos and six boxes of Marlboro. Yes, six!!

   Before dinner, we’re back in the swimming pool when it is already dark. We’re alone and when we’re resting, laying in our deck chairs a boy from the staff gets in conversation to us. He is curious about our way of live in our country home. The contrasts between cultures is clear with examples as this question from him: “How many cows do you have?”. It’s difficult to him to understand we don’t need cattle on cities, that’s for rural areas. He tells us proudly his parents have got two cows as an indication they’re not poor. Our peacefully conversation gets truncated at the moment we feel mosquito bites. I apologize for the rough leaving but he must understand this is malaria zone and we must avoid being bitten by mosquitoes.

   I must say that is the only moment we’ve been beaten by any insect. I guess being in a swimming pool at dark wearing just a swimming pool is tempting fate too much.