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