Angkor aint the only temple!
23.11.2008 35 °C
On arriving at Siem Reap we checked into our guest house - which we came to love as home!!
We took a day just to chill and book our temple time.
We were to have three days at the temples of Angkor Watt and surrounds.
To think I was worried this would be too much time!
We got picked up at 5am (yes Gav got up at 4.30!!) by our 'Remorque Moto' often known as tuktuk.
Our driver (Frichard) took us straight to Angkor Watt for sunrise (He said why not start with the best!)
Nothing I had previously thought, read or seen about Angkor prepared me for the truly awesome experience it is.
Yes it really is vast, yes the lake outside Angkor is like a mini ocean, yes the sunrise is stunningly beautiful.
And... Yes it is THE most spiritual and uplifting experience - when you see it for the first time.
(believe me I usually avoid using such descriptions for fear of sounding cheesy but this place really warrants the gushing)
After taking in the peaceful, stupendiously lavish Angkor we beat the crowds and did a tour known as the 'short tour''.
This covers the temples of Angkor Thom and elephant terrace - I have to say I didn't really take it all in
- it had rained during breakfast and was swedish sauna hot even in the shade.
When we reviewed the pics that Gav had taken we decided to go back and redo this tour on day three.
When it got a bit cooler we went to Ta Phrom which has monster trees growing over and through its walls and this is where the crowds were hiding!
I have to say that our sunrise experience stayed with us all day and beyond.
In the evening we went into charming Siem Reap town and had our first taste of Khmer food proper.
(Breakfast had been scrambled eggs on toast!)
I had ''Amock'' which is a coconut and peanut curry served in a banana leaf, they made me a Tofu version. It was mild and creamy a bit like korma but oh so much more delicious.
Gav had ''beef lock lac'' which is strips of beef in a garlicy, coconutty, slightly chilified sauce, he loved it!
After a much needed lie in Frichard convinced us to drive the 50km to a waterfall temple Kabal Spean and Banteay Srei - which is said to be the most artistic and intricate of all the temples.
The waterfall temple is a 2km hike through jungle up a steep slope, but boy is it worth it.
Images of Vishnu and Shiva, Oxen and Crocodiles as well as hundreds of lingas are carved into the rock that the water runs over. (Thats dedication for you!)
Here we saw the biggest live spiders we have ever seen hanging in their webs between the trees - they were the size of Gav''s out stretched hand (you will have to take our word for it as we were both too chicken to get a decent photo).
Banteay Sre didn't disappoint either, its tiny but the carvings are exquisitely detailed and we really appreciated the shade of its protective walls when we ate our packed lunch overlooking the serene lily covered moat.
Back to Angkor for sunrise (Gav did it twice!!) this time we were less shell shocked and could take it in more!
We then revisited a part of Angkor Thom called Bayon which is the one with the huge heads looking out two the jungle.
Apart from an amourous couple and two Khmer kids we were the only ones there (and the heads).
This made the visit all the more atmospheric; and spooky.
It will be another favourite memory as we were able to get up close and personal with the giant faces, it made for some really wicked pics.
The last temple we went to was Banteay Kdei, again it was almost deserted. It is like Ta Phrom with the giant trees strangling the temple itself but this time we didn't have to battle for space. We really soaked up the experience of this temple as we knew it was our last!