Saturday, May 05, 2007

Cambodia : Countless Temples (Day 2)

After catching sunrise at Angkor Wat, which was non too spectacular due to cloudy skies again, we headed north to Angkor Thom, a fortified enclosure consisting of another cluster of temples.

Our first visit was to Bayon, a temple comprising huge intimidating heads staring down at visitors. Nevertheless, it was a sight to behold as the structure was simply majestic.

We spent a significant amount of time at Bayon, partly due to the rain, we had to seek shelter in different nooks and crannies of the temple while trying to decipher the bas-reliefs carved on the walls enclosing the temple. Kinda like playing 'Where's Wally?' as the figures were quite hard to make out due to erosion. The rain also made trekking up and down the uneven and steep steps a tricky affair.

Our second stops were an aggregation of Baphuon, Terrace of the Elephants, Terrace of The Leper King and Phimenakas. Nothing too exciting.

The third stop was what we were waiting for - Ta Prohm, which houses the famous Tomb Raider tree. Ta Prohm was an enchanting experience, with kapok trees with its huge buttress roots encroaching on the monuments like monsters. We have never seen tree roots that huge! I quote from Lonely Planet (by the way, one can find cheong versions of various editions of the Lonely Planet for just US$1 in Siem Reap! I got mine (original, I think) at just US$3) which I thought was wonderfully put :

"Ta Prohm reminds us of the awesome fecundity and power of the jungle. There is a poetic cycle to this venerable ruin, with humans first conquering nature to rapidly create, and nature once again conquering humans to slowly destroy."

The fourth and last stops were to Banteay Kdei (another temple) and Sras Srang (a pool of water which was a relief under the scorching afternoon sun).



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