The wonderful thing about travelling solo through hostels is that the opportunities to meet new people are endless and there is something freeing about hanging out with a group for a week, a day, or even just an hour with no commitment to be friends beyond that time frame. You can see the sights, drink together and share tales of adventure but at the end of the day you go your separate ways, a mere paragraph in each other’s lives. The drinking together is particularly apparent since hostels seem to have free beer more often than they have free water.
Anyway, temple viewing day one dawned bright and early and I set out with the three people I had agreed to share a driver with. We knew we were doing the small circuit which visited the big three temples; Angkor Wat, our second visit here but our first opportunity to see all of it; Bayon Temple with its many faces; and Ta Prohm, slowly being reclaimed by nature. However, we had little idea what else to expect. You can read about our three visits to Angkor Wat here so I’ll skip straight to Bayon Temple.
Bayon Temple is one of the must-see temples when visiting the Angkor temples. It’s covered in these faces that look out over the mass of tourists that come to visit every day. With their little half smiles, I couldn’t help but think that the statues knew more than they let on. Just what have they seen?
Like Angkor Wat, Baphuon Temple has a long causeway to walk up before you enter the temple. It definitely seems like a good way to humble the lowly visitor. It originally had a huge tower on the top but I kind of like these four arches, they make me think of magical portals to lost worlds.
Mr Bunna, our tuk tuk driver pulled over on the side of the road so we could take photos of a group of monkeys. I just couldn’t resist taking a photo of this guy chilling on a motorbike.
I’ve always found taking photos through holes or down tunnels irresistible and visiting the temples certainly provided a lot of opportunities for me to do so with, arched corridors, doorways and collapsed roofs.
These seven headed snakes are used as balustrades throughout the Angkor Temple Complex. They represent a reptilian race, the Nāga. In particular the king of snakes, Vasuki, who was used to help churn the Ocean of Milk by wrapping around Mount Meru. Artisans Angkor have a really good description of this piece of mythology.
Used as a set in Tomb Raider, Ta Prohm has not escaped the Cambodian jungle’s grasp. Without a moat to protect it from invading trees, parts of this temple have been reclaimed by nature. The real trick though was trying to get a photo of the beautiful trees in the split second between everyone having their photo taken directly in front of the marvellous interlocking roots. We were particularly unfortunate and managed to arrive at the same time as a large (and very loud) tour group but did find a moment of quite in one courtyard, at least for a couple of minutes.