April 15, 2013 by 2sorefeet
The compulsory stop at Angkor Wat was our final destination in Cambodia… and a nice way to draw the curtain on our 4 week stay.
Angkor Wat is the main tourist draw of Cambodia, 70% of all tourists who visit Cambodia make their way to check out the complex, and it felt like everyone in the country had descended there on the same day as us… it was packed, even more so than the Taj Mahal, which I didn’t think was possible!
We had the in-genius idea of renting bicycles to explore the site, keeping in mind that the tempature was near the 40 degree mark. We opted for the shorter route to take in the “main” temples of Angkor Wat, Bayon and Ta Prohm (plus loads of others) which is 19 kilometres circuit (plus 8 kilometres from our hotel in Siem Riep.)
Our first stop of the day was at massive Angkor Wat, the largest religion building in the world. Exploring this temple took the greater part of the morning. We completely under-estimated the sheer scale of it. Unfortunately there was some renovation work under way when we were there which prevented us from taking a great photo of the iconic towers.
After an extended break for lunch in the shade to escape from the sun it was time to hop on our bikes again. Getting overtaken by a steady stream of air-conditioned tourist buses made our bike ride, which already felt like an ascent stage of the Tour de France even more punishing.
Without realising it, you have probably already seen images of Bayon, which was the second major temple of the day. I say major because there were plenty of “smaller” temples en route from Angkor to Bayon which in their own right were hugely impressive, unfortunately for them they are just dwarfed by the superior temples in their surroundings.
Bayon was our favourite of the day. The constant glaze of the faces built into the temple added a creepy atmosphere to this particular temple. At any given point, there are a dozen faces facing you! As with Angkor Wat (and the pyramids in Egypt), the construction methods of these temples is still a mystery to modern architects- which made us appreciate them even more.
Another few kilometres along the circuit, we arrived at Ta Prohm to observe the power of nature! Ta Prohm was discovered later than the other temples as the jungle sprawled to encompass the site. Have a look at some of the pictures below to see for yourself how the trees have completely engulfed the temple. If they seem familiar, it might be from a certain Anglie Jolie movie. (Tomb Raider was shot here a decade ago)
As you know from reading our wonderful blog, bad fortune is never far away from us (particularily me)… and our day at Angkor Wat was no exception. On our way to one of the temples for sunset, for the second time on our trip I burst a tyre! So, 10kms from our hotel we were stranded! Thankfully after 15 minutes an empty tuk tuk came past to rescue us and bring us back to Siem Riep with our bikes tied to the back of the tuk-tuk!
After a long day cycling, perhaps it wasn’t the worst thing to happen 😉
John & Marie