There are two loops through the temple ground. Wednesday we took the smaller but star studded shorter loop, today we took the bigger loop. We got going early today to try to avoid the heat and hopefully some crowds.
Our first stop today was Prah Kahn. It was smaller than Ta Prohm but again, they had let the larger trees remain to make for some of that sweet arbor/history combo.
McKayla has been pretty good at timing our photos just so; to keep as many tourists as possible out of the shots. It took us more than a few minutes to get my Indiana Jones shot just right. I used my backpack to balance the scale against a centered stone. I later learned that the stone is the center of this temple, is sacred, and is also a phallic symbol. This might explain why a police officer stood by, seemingly annoyed, while i mockingly pretended to steal a sacred penis statue. Maybe not my finest moment, but let’s be honest, there have been worse.
Neal Pham, aka: the island temple, was only accessible via a long wooden boardwalk surrounded by a marsh. The temple was fairly submerged being that we are here at the end of monsoon season. It must have been more sunken than normal because even Joy made a trip down the walkway to get a few pictures of the flooded temple.
Our last two temples were great but went back to the standard design of a gate with four smaller temples surrounding a larger main temple. They were still stunning but seemed steril compared to the very unique two we’d just seen.
Overall, Angkor was a great experience. All the temples and ruins that we visited in the last three days have unique features and carvings. Up close, all the surrounding dancers, animals and men have different faces, poses and designs. However, on a larger scale, everything is symmetrical. All sides are equidistant. All entrances, gates and main faces point in the cardinal directions. It’s an insane combination of beauty, creativity and precise engineering.
I’m pretty surprised that they let tourists have free range of the place. They check passes upon entry and at the gate of nearly every templebut once you’re in there are very few areas that are off limits and most of those had to do with safety and reconstruction. They allowe you to explore unsupervised into any corridor or temple you felt like checking out. What better way to bring out your inner explorer/kid than to let lose in an ancient jungle gym? With the amount of tourists that are coming to this place annually, i can’t imagine that this unabated wonderment will continue. But for the time being, at least for us, it was wonderful.
We got back to our guesthouse around noon. McKayla is fighting a cold so we hung out there for the night. I went out to get some familiar food. Thankfully – and strangely – pizza is everywhere. So we got a pie and watched a Harry Potter movie with the A/C blasting. Home is never that far away.