I was not prepared, to be honest. I booked my flight to Cambodia months ahead, but I was not able to make an itinerary, which I later realized was a mistake on my part, and to a certain extent made me look like an ignorant fool. My expectation was just simply “I will visit a lot of temples”. Little did I know what was in store for me.
The itinerary set up by my tuktuk driver for a three-day tour composed of the following. The order is based on the list.
Day 1 – Inner circuit temples (after sunrise at Angkor Wat)
Sras Srang & Banteay Kdei
Chau Say Thevoda
Angkor Thom (Elephant and Leper King Terraces, Phimeanakas, Baphuon, Bayon)
Day 2 – Grand circuit temples and Rolous Group
Rolous Group (Preah Ko, Bakong, Lolei)
sunset at Phnom Bakheng
Day 3 – Outskirts
return to Angkor Wat
Some of the temples in the Angkor complex have similar structures, most likely due to the reigning king at the time they were developed. Temples like the Ta Prohm, Banteay Kdei, Preah Khan, Ta Som and the gates of the Angkor Thom have the same style as the Bayon temple. These were built under King Jayavarman VII. The Banteay Samre, Thommanom, Chau Say Thevoda have the same style as the Angkor Wat, under the ruling of Suryavarman II. Other noteable styles were the Pre Rup (Rajendravarman II), Baphuon (Udayadityavarman II) and Preah Ko (Indravarman I).
Majority of the temples are undergoing restoration to help preserve the rich culture and history behind these temples. I often stop and wonder how these temples looked like during their inception. I remember one of the guides that I happen to overhear saying that the Khmer people used elephants in order to transport the huge stones to create the temples. I could not fathom how many people it took and how long it took them to build these temples.
Due to the temple-loaded first day, I only had a few time to spend at the Angkor Wat before it was time for sundown. Unfortunately for me, I had an encounter with the monkeys that were roaming around the area. It was scary, and the last thing I wanted to do is to create commotion in a sacred place. Thanks to a bunch of people that happened to pass by the area that I was able to leave the area safe and unharmed.
And since the Angkor Wat was THE place to be, I knew I had to go back. The temple had a curfew and because of my ordeal with the monkeys, I was not able to complete my tour of the temple on the first day. It was imperative that I reach that inner gallery and climb up the towers. On the third day, I requested to go back to the temple early in the morning so I could go up. It was the right timing since a lot of tourists flock the area, and the place could get stuffy even in the morning. Sometimes, I cannot help but think that with this many tourists coming in every day, the temples might, unfortunately, give way. That would be a shame.
In general, I have to say, the whole tour and walking around the temples was very calming, despite the intense heat of the sun. I am not fond of hot weather unless I am in the beach, so doing this was totally out of my comfort zone. I do not know how the other tourists can manage the heat. I just found comfort in the fact that everyone else was experiencing the same thing. Your whole body is tired from all the walking and yet you would feel relaxed because the atmosphere is pretty laid back. Ironic, I know, but I hope I made sense on that.
Photos from my Flickr. The other photos not in the link came from my iPod.