Day 3 (Siem Reap)
“Fucking politicians…” - Kakadia
At the guesthouse, we woke up to a very unpleasant New Year’s morning with a mild hangover(for me…), gruesome images of Saddam on the gallows and horrifying news of the Bangkok blast, which was in the list of our next destinations to visit.
We arrived at the start of Le Grande Circuit at Phnom Bakheng, which is located at a hilltop and offers a magnificent aerial-view of the Angkor Archeological Park. For morning people, go for the sunrise… for us, we chose to sleep-in and reached there at 9am. :P
Beautiful sunrises also equal beautiful sunsets, but as Lonely Planet points out, go early or else you might get swamped by the crowds during sunset there.
Travel Tip 1: Start early so that your face and neck won’t get scorched by the midday sun as you take the 10-minute climb uphill to Phnom Bakeng.
Helium balloon in the distance…
Can you see the 3 cupolas (domes) of Angkor Wat?
You might wanna choose the path less taken… and risk getting a broken leg.
Preah Khan – Temple of the Sacred Sword
Beheaded by a sword?
Preah Khan was built by Jayavarman VII as his temporary residence while he was building Angkor Thom. Don’t know why it’s called the Sacred Sword… might be because the building structure looks like a sword? Or there really was a sacred sword inside…? The main corridor lasts a km long to the backside… and with the many many doors and balustrades, it really feels like you’re competing in an obstacle course while you’re leaping across them and trying hard not to trip! I really can’t understand the purpose of all these low, tiny doorways, is it an oblique sign of respect that everyone who passes through the corridors need to stoop and bow to the one person waiting at the very end?
Garuda (mythical bird-man) at the processional walkway
We’re at the entrance.
Something like Ta Phrom
Branches in the sky – So magical! Like something out of a fairytale...
This, I rate, as the best picture of the whole trip!
Don’t fall on me!
Beautiful apsara carvings on the arches above our heads…
Linga (phallic symbol) – I read somewhere that this one linga (three parts: long, circular and square) actually represents the Hindu trinity – Shiva, Vishnu, Brahma. I can only say that it looks like a whole other thing to me.
Preah Neak Pean – Sacred Intertwined ‘Naga’
This is one of the temples I love the most. The ‘island temple’ that you see below is actually situated in the centre pool, with 4 other pools to its N, S, E, W.
One of the most spectacular things about the design of this temple is that back in the Angkor days, water used to flow from ornamental sprouts to each of the N, S, E, W pools. And these ornamental sprouts were so lovely designed, in the shapes of elephant(N), horse(W), lion(S), human(E)! It’s just so ingenious!
The pools of Preah Neak Phan was used for ritual cleansing rites. The temple gets its name from the two intertwined naga encircling the island temple. There’s also a horse figure at the temple entrance, derived from the legend that Avalokiteshvara once saved his shipwrecked followers from a ghost-island by transforming himself into a flying horse.
One of the two intertwined ‘naga’
More ‘beheaded’ images… some of them actually had jewels on their heads… damn that Pol Pot for selling them all to outsiders!
After that we took a break for lunch just at the foodstalls outside Preah Neak Phan, it was cheap and tasty! Just order cooked food and I think it’s going to be hygiene enough for our stomachs… Lunch cost us USD 8 for 3 dishes and Angkor beer – pork and fried vege, ginger chicken and onion beef with rice.
We spent lunch chatting with our tuk-tuk driver Kakadia… he told us about his story about his family when they were still under Khmer Rouge rule.
To be continued...