Cambodia: Angkor Archaeological Site: Pre Rup, East Mebon, Ta Som, Neak Pean, Preah Khan – Day Two

Here the itinerary for day two 🙂

1. Early Sunrise (Did not rise for me) @ Angkor Wat

I revisited Angkor Wat temple today since I read that the sunrise is breath-taking. I got up at 4 am and headed towards the temple, as recommended to get the sunrise view. Unfortunately, it was not my lucky day for this view, since the sun never actually rose, it was a pretty cloudy morning…, so the only picture I managed to get was one of the murky blue skies. Still gorgeous, so no complaint at all.

2- Pre Rup

The temple was built in a foothill, designed on a 3-pyramid layout rising to 12 m, it represents Mount Meru, dedicated to Shiva, the temple was erected in 961 by King Rajendravarman II. It is only 6 km East of Angkor Thom so naturally was our next point to visit. The temple was unearthed during the 1930s by French George Trouvé who brought the site back to light from its overly nature-overgrown status.

This enormous brick construction symbolises the five mountain peaks of Mount Meru, the sacred mountain in Hindu mythology, its size, height and warm-toned made it an ideal place to witness the beauty of its countryside surroundings.

4- Angkor Complex - Pre Rub -10th Century by Jenny Rojas - Jun17 (1)

When I visited, it was still early in the day, and I was the only person at that moment, so I took advantage for some solo photos and to contemplate the atmosphere for a bit before leaving for the next visit.

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3- East Mebon: 

East Mebon temple was an island, and as such it was only accessible by boat Standing here today, surrounded by trees, palms and so much nature, I found difficult to imagine this temple in the middle of a gigantic reservoir. I learned an artificial body of water created that island through various embankments which contained over 8 million of cubic water. This construction achieved then the deviation and linking of water-flows around Angkor.

I noticed stone lions, which supposed to be the guardians of the temple bordering the platforms. Also, in the four corners of the temple, I observed the beautifully engraved elephants, which show artistic ability.

The temple remains in service, where believers still pray to the Hindu god Indra to ask for rain at the end of the dry monsoon season in April and May, as such, it is common to see offerings of candles and incense around the site.

4- Ta Som:

We passed this relatively quiet site, built in the late 12th century by King Jayavarman VII, on our way to Preah Khan. The temple features three enclosures with big gateways known as “gopuras” and a central sanctuary.

5- Angkor Complex - TAM SON by Jenny Rojas

The highlight when visiting this temple is to see the bizarre-view of a strangler fig growing on one of the gopuras. It seems that nature undoubtedly claiming back from space from history.

7- Angkor Complex - Eastern gopura with strangler fig at Ta Som Temple - by Jenny Rojas (1)
fig growing on one of the gopuras

Along the way, I crossed a central sanctuary and its four corners buildings. Some of the carvings are particularly skilled, especially to those of the female divinities represented in various styles.

5- Neak Pean:

This natural-man made beauty is a large square lake which is surrounded by four smaller ponds. It was built in the second half of the 12th century by king Jayavarman VII, dedicated to Buddhist. It is also believed to have been sacred to Buddha as he reached Nirvana.

11- Day Two - Angkor Complex - Neak Pean - Late 12th Century - by Jenny Rojas

The central pond is an imitation of Lake Anavatapta in the Himalayas, which gives way to the four great rivers of the earth. These rivers are signified at Neak Pean by moulded gargoyles corresponding to the four cardinal points Lake Anavatapta, worshipped in India for its healing powers.

14- Day Two - Angkor Complex - Neak Pean - Late 12th Century - by Jenny Rojas

6- Preah Khan:

Our last visit of the day, and one of the most impressive to my eyes.

1 Angkor Complex - Preah Khan by Jenny Rojas (22)

This temple was built following after the defining battle with the Buddhist King of the Chams. This king belonged to a kingdom in what is now Vietnam, in the year 1191.

The victory secured Jayavarman VIII his position into the most significant period of Khmer prosperity. Its name translates to “the Sacred Sword”.

This impressive structure stretches over an area of 56 hectares. The area still has few traces of t Buddhist figures, which changed into a more Hindu style by the King Jayavarman VIII in the 13th century.

The structure was initially built-up with wooden houses and huts, long gone, where ordinary people lived. The inner sanctuaries seem to look overcrowded among the several temple buildings, including a well-preserved Hall of Dancers.

This temple truly impressed me, and all its aesthetics are unique; for moments, it feels that the overgrowing vegetation and giant trees keep swallowing the ruins!.

 

Thank you very much for reading my blog, and don’t be shy leave a comment.

“Angkor Wat is of such extraordinary construction that it is not possible to describe it with a pen, particularly since it is like no other building in the world. It has towers and decoration and all the refinements which the human genius can conceive of.” – António da Madalena, 1586

Love

🙏

from

Jenny

Cambodia: Siem Reap – Angkor Wat Temple & Angkor Thom – Day One

It has been a year since I visited Cambodia during my 2017 round the world trip, and although I aimed to write and I travel alongside, I got caught up with so many adventures that could not cope with the pace, so I write now as I can, as time allows me.

I was very excited about visiting Cambodia since I had daydreamt visiting Angkor Wat for many years! I remember asking on my Facebook page for recommendations, as many of my friends had already visited. At the beginning I could walk from site to site within the archaeological sites, but as I came to realise thanks to my many FB travel gurus, that that was not the best of the ideas! So, the most common recommendation was to hire a tuk-tuk to take me around cheaply and easily.

The first day at Siem Reap, I decided to relax and get to know my surroundings, the town, the bars and find out accurately my options to visit the site. As expected, everything was very straightforward.

My hostel was very close to the “Pub Street” where all the hectic bars, restaurants and tourist clubs of Siem Reap are located. In order of priorities, the first thing I did was to have a  “deluxe” massage-pedicure at a cost of USD7, (GBP5.5, $20.000 COP), to prepare me for the next few days walks. I finished the day with some souvenir shopping, SIM Card purchase and a nice meal at a local restaurant, I felt happy and ready for the adventure.

Getting back to my hostel, at its travel desk, I found a good deal for my adventure. The cost of hiring a 3 full day tuk-tuk + driver was USD65, which included waiting time at each site and transport to the next, pick up and return to my hostel. I found this a pretty good deal, so I went for it.

DAY ONE AT THE ANGKOR COMPLEX:

Since all foreign visitors are required to buy an entrance ticket to visit the Angkor Archaeological Park, then the first thing we did (driver and ) was to go to the visitor centre, located on our way to Angkor Wat temple, to buy my  ticket. There are three options available, and they all pretty much depend on how much time one has available to spend visiting the sites.

The first option allows a visit for a full day, the cost USD37. The second option enables travellers a three-day visit, and it is valid for ten days, the cost USD62. And the third option allows travellers a seven-day visit, and it is valid for one month, the cost USD72. I went for the second option. A digital photograph is then taken individually and included in your ticket, which non-transferable, non-refundable, and they must be carried at all times or entry to temples can be denied.

Since a lot of the temples are still places of worship, It is mandatory to wear appropriate clothing covering that covers shoulders, long trousers or dress below the knees.

Here my itinerary: 

Angkor Wat Complex translates as the city of temples, it was an ancient city once the centre of the Khmer empire, which reigned most of South East Asia. Even though it is now extinct civilization, its stunning temples and constructions can still be treasured by many, despite many of them being entombed by hundreds of years of wilderness. I was mesmerized by the breath-taking nature and fascinating history.

 

1. Angkor Wat Temple:

Firstly, some interesting facts about Angkor Wat:

Angkor Wat is the key reason why more than 1 million tourists visit Cambodia each year.

Angkor ruins cover over 248 square miles (400 square km).!Angkor Wat is oddly oriented to the west, a direction characteristically associated with death in Hindu culture.

Carving reliefs at Angkor Wat follow a counter-clockwise path, which indicated that the temple is related with funeral ceremonies Angkor Wat was dedicated to Vishnu, a Hindu divinity, rather than their king at the time.

Khmer bricks were glued together virtually unnoticeably by using a vegetal compound rather than mortar.

Angkor Wat is well-thought-out to be the largest religious monument in the world. Unfortunately, the site suffered from decades of unregulated tourism and burgling; many ancient figures were decapitated and sold to private collectors.

Angkor Wat was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1992.

I visited Angkor Wat temple first, and I was advised to return on the second day to witness also its stunning sunrise. So, that was my plan. Being around this temple one of my most dreamed destinations and I was very excited about the day ahead.

Angkor Wat is  a massive temple dedicated to the god Vishnu, is one of the largest within the whole complex. As I walked towards the entrance, one of the first great things I noted, were the colours of the sky reflection, which I think will remain in my mind for years to come. It was incredibly beautiful.

This temple was built in the 12th century by Suryavarman, and it over 200 feet – 60 mts high. It is the best-preserved temple; therefore, it has become the symbol of Cambodia.

As I walked along the passways, I discovered the 790 metres of beautiful carvings, which many portrayed numerous gods.

The architecture of the temple was intended to symbolise Mount Meru, from the Hindu mythology.

The relief sculpted on the eastern section of this southern gallery, shown in my picture below, signifying 37 heavens and 32 hells consequential from the Indian tradition: The Hells, on the lower registers, are pictured in greater detail than the heavens above. Each hell, in fact, is identified by an accompanying description: “Avici”, “Raurava” and others which are still know and feared today in Cambodia.

1-Angkor Wat (70)

The temple combines two sections; the temple mountain and three rectangular galleries.

1-Angkor Wat (28)

The thousands of decorations include also female spirits and gods of the Hindu and Buddhist cultures.

Early Sunrise

(Just a bracket from day one) I visited Angkor Wat temple again the next morning since I read that the sunrise is breathtaking. I got up at 4am and headed towards the temple, as advised to get the sunrise view. Unfortunately, it was not my lucky day for this view, since the sun never actually rose, it was a pretty cloudy morning…, so the only view I managed to get was one of the cloudy blue skies.

1-Angkor Wat 0 (3)

Still pretty amazing, and although full of people (yes at 5am in the morning was cold, rainy and full!), I did still enjoy the majestic view of this temple. I could simply imagine what it would have been to live there in the 12th century…daydreaming and thankful with life for allowing me to witness this.

I found the whole site stunning, I worth-while visit and another dream coming through for me, although get ready for some serious heat and humidity. The history behind all was fascinating to learn and unique wonder of the world.

I recommend anyone to still do the early sunrise visit and then follow by visiting the site, you can even bring your own breakfast. Also, there are plenty of guides available on the spot (I did not hire anyone, but I sort of wish I had done it now) for hire if you wish to learn more in-depth about this magnificent building. The cost is approximately USD15.

Then get prepared for some serious souvenirs vendors “attack” upon exiting the site.

2. Angkor Thom 

 

Bayon:

From Angkor Wat we continued to Bayon, entering via the South Gate into the complex of Angkor Thom.

Angkor Thom Bayon 13th Century by JennySkyIsTheLimit

If you wonder what is the difference between Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom, as I did, then here it is. Essentially Angkor Wat is a temple city, the most well-known in the entire complex, it dates from the 12tht century, whereas and Angkor Thom was built later in the late 12th & part of the 13th century, also a city, which contains various temples, being the most popular, the Bayon. The south gate of Angkor Thom is just 1.7 km north of the entry to Angkor Wat. Since I was travelling comfortably in my Tuk-tuk and certainly enjoyed the rides between temples as the wind refreshed my path.

Bayon temple was special to me, I liked because it is decorated all over the place with numerous smiling stone faces, which seem to be all in an endless meditation state. This impressive Khmer temple contains carvings illustrating mythical, historic, and ordinary scenes.

The Terrace of the Leper King

The Terrace of the Leper King is located in the Royal Square inside of Angkor Thom. It’s only around 600m from Bayon temple.

Walking along this terrace was a great experience. I felt stepping back in time, literally!. The site seemed to have been built as part of a more massive Royal Terraces complex. The funny thing is that its name comes from a statue of the “Leper King” which was formerly mounted at the centre. The statue was in such a bad condition that locals associated it with leprosy.

A unique aspect of this terrace is that it is built as double sandstone walls, with a narrow passageway between them, the one I am walking through on this clip. The walls were constructed and arranged horizontally into seven levels of figures. I noticed that the best-preserved being the ones from the bottom to the middle.

I visited two more places that day, including the Ta Phrohm and last one in Banheng Hill, but my iPhone was out of battery so I don’t have more photos of the day.

Thanks again for reading 🙂

“To travel is to take a journey into yourself” Danny Kaye

 

Love

💖

From Jenny

ARRIVING AND DEPARTING: Siem Reap Angkor Airport (REP)

Introduction:

Siem Reap Angkor Airport (REP), is the busiest airport in Cambodia, due to being the nearest airport to the well-known Angkor World Heritage Temples. The airport managed three and a half million passengers in 2016 (growing 20% in 2017!) …, similar passenger’s quantity that Leeds airport in the UK and Cartagena in Colombia.

The airport is located at 8 km from Siem Reap and 6 km to Angkor Wat temple, so no far at all. It comprises of one building which is separated into two terminals, one for international flights and one for domestic flights.

 

My experience arriving (June 2017)

The airport is small in scale but I found a well-organized check-in and passport control procedures.  Upon landing, it was just a short distance to the airport so I walked straight from outside into the immigration hall.  I was surprised to find a good-looking terminal design, spotlessly clean and helpful staff.

The process of immigration was straightforward, once I entered the airport, I completed the visa form application, (forms can be easily found in a rack as you arrive). I then I attached my photo, which I had previously prepared, proceeded to the queue. I then paid USD30 for my visa before being directed to a waiting area while my visa was processed; this took no more than 15 minutes, I then collected it when called and proceeded to exit to get my arrival stamp and hand over my entry form, I got my fingers tips scanned, the same way as when you arrive at the USA.

I then left the area and proceeded to the baggage hall, where my bag was already waiting for me. It was easy to either take a tuk-tuk or a taxi, so I opted for the taxi, which took 20 minutes to take to my hostel.

 

My experience departing

To get to the airport this time I did not take a taxi, but a tuk-tuk, which cost me USD6, £4.70 or $17000 Colombian pesos. I walked towards international departures, to check in to my flight to Kuala Lumpur with Malaysia Airlines.

Siem Reap-REP-Departure (9)

As usual, I tend to arrive quite early to my flight to check out my surroundings, so this time it was not an exception. Firstly, I checked-in my baggage, which was again very efficient and then I went through customs and immigration. Again, this was very quick and efficient.

I found enough places to have a coffee or a snack, and the facilities yet again were impeccable sparkling.

Since I had some time, I decided to wait at the airport lounge, Plaza Premium. I paid USD33 for the privilege, but then again, I was left very happy with the service, as this allowed me to catch up with work.

The lounge is very spacious, the staff are extremely helpful and friendly and the food offered was seriously great! Which a chef onsite the whole time. I certainly enjoyed my time in this lounge while working and having a drink (or two). I also enjoyed some tasty local food before my flight. In conclusion, the lounge use was pretty good value for money.

 

My Rating: (1*- 5*)

 

  • Airport Facilities                                *****
  • Friendliness of airport staff               ****
  • Signs                                                      ****
  • Passport Control                                *****
  • Cleanliness                                         *****

 

“Airports are spaces that hold an immense sense of clatter and absurdity at the same time, a lovely chaos of a diverse mortality holding hands; an elderly couple walking together, a group of noisy backpackers, a place where business people type unceasingly on the laptops almost at a rhythmical pace. But most of all, a place where two destinations become one, a true mirror of reality and magic.” JR

 

 

Love from Jenny