More Angkor Temples–Look, They’re Just Really Cool, Okay?

Looks like it’s Angkor Week here at Stowaway! The temples were so amazing that I took at least 1,000 photos, so I suppose it’s not too surprising that I’m using four days to show them off. Enjoy!

Ta Keo

Ta Keo

The most interesting part of Ta Keo was the fact that it was undergoing renovations when I was there, so all the workings of the structure were laid out, labeled, and slowly put back together. Different nations sponsor renovations on different parts of the park at Angkor; Japan, the US, Australia, and India are among the countries that have contributed to restoring the temples to some of their former glory. Part of Ta Keo was covered in scaffolding, and the peace of the morning was broken by the sound of a large crane moving stones into place, a modern update to the never completed temple of the 11th century.

Every stone is labeled

Every stone is labeled for the giant jigsaw that is renovation

When the glass breaks, they know the stones have shifted, and they can adjust their renovations accordingly

When the glass breaks, they know the stones have shifted, and they can adjust their renovations accordingly

The stairs, which I actually climbed more like a ladder because they were so steep

The stairs, which I actually climbed more like a ladder because they were so steep

A little higgledy-piggledy

A little higgledy-piggledy

Ta Prohm brings to mind Indiana Jones movies, but it’s actually the site of filming for several scenes from Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, so all the touts and drivers I encountered called it the Tomb Raider temple. The French Ecole Francaise d’Extreme-Orient, which decided what to do with the Angkor temples when France had control of Cambodia, decided to leave Ta Prohm as it was, to show how most of Angkor looked when Westerners stumbled upon it in the 19th century. So the jungle has crept over the bridge and wriggled through the walls, and the result is a beautiful blend of nature and architecture.

angkor ta prohm

Ta Prohm

Ta Prohm

angkor ta prohm

They do a lot of work to make sure that the places open to visitors are structurally sound

They do a lot of work to make sure that the places open to visitors are structurally sound, while leaving the “classical ruins” look in place

A sense of scale

A sense of scale

angkor ta prohm angkor ta prohm

Superwoman

Superwoman

If I visit Angkor again, I’ll go to Sra Srang during sunrise; going during the middle of the day revealed that it was a large man-made lake (or baray, to use the term from my guidebook) that may or may not have once had a temple in the middle of it, but currently has nothing else. It was apparently a bathing pool for just about anyone to use (despite its current name meaning “royal baths”), which is a nice touch for an ancient kingdom.

Sra Srang

Sra Srang

On my last day in the park, I walked up the hill to Phnom Bakheng to see the sunset from there. As I mentioned in a post last week, I almost didn’t get to go in at all. I’m still annoyed that there are no signs or warnings at the base of the hill, and that you walk all the way to the top, and then stand in line, before someone says, “You can’t go in because you’re not dressed right.” Apparently, the scarf around my shoulders wasn’t enough. I wasn’t about to give up, so I looked around for someone who, in this heat, was wearing a shoulder-covering shirt and a shirt over that. I found someone! I turned to a woman waiting with her tour group, and asked if I could borrow the thin raincoat she was wearing. We had to overcome some language barriers for her to realize I wanted to borrow, not steal, her coat, and then she smiled and handed it over. The Clothing Police waved me in, and I ascended the stairs of the temple.

The path to the top of the hill

The path to the top of the hill

angkor Phnom Bakheng

The view was lovely–forests and barays and temples as far as the eye could see, in all directions. The sunset wasn’t very dramatic, as there was too much haze, but it was cool to look down at Angkor Wat from this height. I also liked the walk up and down the hill, when I got a glimpse of the small Baksei Chamkrong in the distance.

Baksei Chamkrong

Baksei Chamkrong

From Phnom Bakheng

From Phnom Bakheng

View of Angkor Wat from Phnom Bakheng

View of Angkor Wat from Phnom Bakheng

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One thought on “More Angkor Temples–Look, They’re Just Really Cool, Okay?

  1. There’s so much history and culture here that it’s a little overwhelming. So I’ll bypass all that and simply the stairs make me cringe and gasp just looking at them – and they seem to be all over the place. But the trees – those I love. Especially the one that looks like an alien hand coming down…

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