Thursday, December 17, 2009

We are the pirates of the temples...

It strikes me that after promising to talk about the highlight of my life that was my visit to Angkor in Cambodia, I neglected to post about it. This is the first of two blog entries about my adventures at Angkor Wat--I want to post too many pictures for one entry! All of the pictures in this post are courtesy of the incomparable Lionelle Drabble, who is an excellent travel companion and a fabulous photographer who just started work at a school in Bangkok. You may read of her adventures here.

Angkor Wat is the most famous temple at ancient Angkor. It was part of a vast city of temples and now-forgotten wooden structures that thrived from about 800 to 1300. We bought three-day passes and climbed on temples all day, but still visited less than half of what there is to see. We arrived at Angkor Wat in time to watch the sunset on October 27th. Sunsets became an obsession, as we would seek out the tallest temple we hadn't yet visited each evening and sit and listen to music and watch the sunset. The morning of the 28th we set out to explore Angkor Wat again, in pretty dresses this time because we knew we had a lovely photographer.

That's Jamie, Elle and me.


The next on our must-see list was Ta Prohm. We explored for awhile in the heat of the day, cherishing the shade until a welcome end-of-monsoon downpour surprised us.


Here is Jamie looking lovely in the rain. She's teaching in Trat now and writing about it here.

We went to Phnom Bakheng for the second sunset. This is the most popular sunset venue, and the temple is set atop a hill.

On the second full day of temple climbing, we visited Angkor Thom which is a walled city. This is the city gate.


Those faces are familiar--they decorate the other most famous temple which is located in Angkor Thom, the Bayon:


I love that the Bayon looks like a mountain of rubble from a distance, and it isn't until you're in it that you can really admire the enigmatic Buddha faces in every direction.


The same day, we visited the Elephant Terrace and the Royal Palace and Phimeanakas beyond it.


We watched the third sunset from the top of Ta Keo.


I don't know if the pictures demonstrate the steepness of the climb.


But this one should:

Many of these temples have steep steps like this, which require a person to descend them sideways. Ta Keo offered up another glorious sunset, and glorious sunsets are a great way to end these entries.

I will post again tomorrow with more pictures from the rest of my temple-hopping.

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