Cambodia: Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom, Ta Prohm temples

We are now in Siem Reap in Cambodia, famous for the vast complex of temples the most famous being Angkor Wat and also Ta Prohm where Tombraider was filmed. We arrived on a 60 seat prop plane from Luang Prabang in Laos, and landed in Siem Reap mid afternoon in absolutely torential rain. A tuk-tuk picked us up at the airport and drove us to the hotel. After checking in we went for a wander around in the rain. The roads were flooded but people carried on as usual including these 2 kids who were riding by on their bicycle.

We bought a 3 day pass ($40) to explore the temples which Siem Reap is famous for. Most of them are based in or around the Angkor Archaelogical Park which is a huge area so we also hired a tuk-tuk driver ($14) for the day to take us around. Mr Von Ny at an additional $25 for the day was our guide. Everything in Siem Reap is priced in US dollars though the local currency is the Riel. First temple is the most famous one: Angkor Wat. Angkor means Capital or Holy city, Wat is the Kmer word for temple. Angkor Wat was built for King Suryavarman II in the early 12th century as his state temple and capital city. It was first Hindu, dedicated to Vishnu, then Buddhist. The temple is an example of Khmer architecture and has become a symbol of Cambodia appearing on its national flag.

Dave and Mr Von Ny climb around on a 12th century relic.

Hired by the tourist board to pose for tourists at Angkor Wat – not quite sure what they are supposed to be, they were too busy asking us for extra money!
Angkor Wat is huge, we wandered around it all for over 2 hours.

Buddhist shrines.

Angkor Wat being a national symbol of Cambodia means it is a popular place to have your wedding photos taken. We saw dozens of wedding parties getting ready for their photos in the grounds, it was bizarre.

God help him……………….

Natty suit.
Top effort on the bridegroom’s shoes…….

The Rimmel counter at Boots must have been raided – they trowel make-up on for big occassions.

Local kids diving in to the massive moat that surrounds Angkor Wat.
You see loads of really small kids riding around on bikes way too big for them but they seem to manage.

Angkor Thom
There are several bridges leading in to this temple complex which span the moat in front of each tower: these have a row of large stone carved devas (god/deity) on the left and asuras (power-seeking deities) on the right, each row holding a naga and resembling a tug-of-war. This could be a reference to the popular myth of the Churning of the Sea of Milk. Angkor Thom was the last capital city of the Khmer empire. Built in the twelfth century by King Jayavarman VII, it covers an area of 9 km² and at its centre is Jayavarman’s state temple, the Bayon.

A shrine inside the temple.
A pigs head offering left at the shrine.
One of the beautiful stone carved heads.

Carved stone murals at Angkor Thom.

The elephant gate which Mr Von Ny insisted we climb in to to have our photo taken.

Wandering around inside the many buildings at Angkor Thom.

Dave and Mr Von Ny climb the tower at Bauphon Temple.

Local musicians who are all victims of land mine accidents; amputees and in some cases blind. They perform to tourists to earn donations rather than begging.

Mr Von Ny playing a local musical instrument – the 2 strings are made from bicycle brake cables and the bow is played between the 2 strings rather than across them. To be brutally honest after about 2 minutes it starts to sound like a cat being strangled.
Ta Promh Temple; famous as the location for the the first Tomb Raider movie starring Angelina Jolie and Daniel Craig.

Strangler fig tree roots creep through the ruins.

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