Templed out! Yeap, that’s how I would summarize my tour of the greatest legacy of what was once the majestic Khmer empire – Angkor Thom in Siem Reap, Cambodia. I visited so many temples in the Grand Circuit tour that I honestly couldn’t remember all of them.
Angkor is one of the most important archaeological sites in South-East Asia, extending 400 square kilometers and incorporating more 1,000 temples. The complex represents masterpieces of Khmer art and architecture from the 9th to the 14th centuries AD. Angkor was at its height a megapolis, inhabited by almost a million people.
One of the monumental gates leading to Angkor Thom
I collected quite a few red strings, which supposedly signified good luck, from the temple keepers. Of course they expected a donation.
A young girl selling postcards near the temples
While my curious mind was first excited on seeing all the temples and learning about the whole history of Angkor, it was a bit too much in the end. Each temple visit became shorter … and shorter … and shorter. Sort of okay, been there, done that. Thank goodness my guide left the most important, the magnificent Angkor Wat, for another day. Otherwise, I might not have been able to appreciate it as much. I’m sure there are a couple of other temples I visited that are not on the list below. But, like I said, I was templed out!
Famous for appearing in the movie Tomb Raider, Ta Prohm, is a Mahayana Buddhist monastery. With trees growing from within and out of the ruins, it’s one of Cambodia’s most visited sights.
Also called the Citadel of Monks, Banteay Kdei is a Buddhist monastic complex built in the mid-12th to 13th centuries AD.
This temple from the 12th century is renowned for its “faces.” It is a majestic Khmer temple complex with elaborate and rich decorations. While it is a Buddhist temple, it also incorporates elements of Hinduism.
Built in the mid-11 century AD, it is a three-tiered temple mountain dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva.
Terrace of the Leper King
Named so because its main statue, the Hindu god Yama, has been discolored with moss covering it, making it look like a person infected with leprosy.
Buil in the 12th century AD, this is a small temple left largely unrestored. It has has trees growing within and out of the ruins like Ta Prohm.
Terrace of the Elephants
This place was used as a platform from which to view returning armies and as a stand for public ceremonies.
Built in the 9th century AD, it is the first temple mountain constructed by the Khmer empire. It is located in the ancient city of Hariharalaya in present day Roluos.
The TRAVEL AGENCY
I booked my whole tour with About Asia Travel and was extremely pleased with the service. The communication, mainly by e-mail, was excellent and all my questions were promptly responded to. I had a private guide and my very own Tuk-Tuk, including a driver. They were very courteous, friendly and knowledgeable. Aside from the temples, I also requested to see local life up close and personal. The agency then arranged a local photographer to accompany me and he seemed to know everyone in the small villages surrounding Siem Reap. More on that in another post.
Having a picnic with my guide and Tuk-Tuk driver
The HOTEL and RESTAURANT
Park Hyatt Siem Reap – ♥♥♥♥♥
Sivutha Boulevard, Siem Reap
* Minimalist, contemporary, hip yet authentic. I absolutely enjoyed my stay at the Park Hyatt Siem Reap, previously called Hotel de la Paix. I was greeted with flowers and a cocktail then escorted to my room, which had a very modern and minimalist, yet still Cambodian, design. Almost everything was white with hints of metal/iron and dark wood. As a lone traveller in exotic countries, I rarely venture out to downtown restaurants, especially in the evenings, for fear of gastrointestinal issues and safety concerns. So aside from the picnics arranged by the travel agency for my tours, I indulged on Cambodian gastronomic delights in the hotel. They were delicious!
Until my next post … take care!
Save the bees, save the environment!