Today was a very big day touring around the temples with our awesome tuk tuk driver. There is a $37 entry charge to enter the park and this gives you access to all of the temples in the area.
These temples are huge and the photos just don’t do them justice. It is amazing to think that people actually built these amazing structures without any form of modern machinery and the sheer precision of cuts and placements of the stones is amazing. Each stone has been placed in the perfect position to hold up the stone next to it and the design is that if one stone moves, the structure is no longer stable. Over the years trees have grown bigger around the structures and the root systems are causing movement, there are a lot of areas where parts of the temples have fallen and there are piles of boulders and columns lining the exterior walls. A small handful of the temples are also strapped up while the teams attempt to repair and reconstruct the temples to their original design.
Most temples are surrounded by a giant stone wall and have huge grand entrances. You can only imagine what this would have looked like when they were constructed and how they would have been used.
As we only had one day to see the temples, we aimed to go through the top ones first. Yesterday we looked at Angkor Wat, Bayon, Angkor Tom, Ta Prohm. Our favourite was Angkor Tom, this temple was huge and had amazing carvings on the walls and many hallways inside. Steep steps take you up to the top floor where you can look down on the structures below and get a closer look at the huge sculptures which sit on top of the temple. Out of all the temples we looked at, this one was in the best condition and had very few props holding it together.
At the end of the day we went to Phnom Bakheng which is a 15 minute walk up a hill. At the top of the hill there are some very steep steps to climb the temple and gain access to the top, from here there is great place to view the sunset. Unfortunately with the very high humidity and heat yesterday and spending all day in the sun, once we arrived at the top of the temple we were not feeling well enough to stay up there the 2 hours to sunset, we then made our way back down the mountain. I do recommend though if you want to do the sunset up here that you get there around 3.30pm, there are 500-1000 people each day who come up to watch the sunset and unless you can get there early, you won’t be able to get a spot on the correct side of the temple to see the sunset. Places on top of the temple are also limited on a first in basis, no tickets are required.
The temples are a great experience and if you are ever in Siam Reap they are must see.
We have had a great time in Cambodia and this will be the first of many trips. I love how relaxed and laid back this country is, how nice the people are and how much there is to see. Tomorrow morning we head off to Saigon, my next update will be from Vietnam!