Temples of Angkor: Day 1

The temple complexes of the Angkor empire are just too massive and spread out to see all in one day, so we planned for three. For the first, we hired a tuk-tuk driver to take us to some of the more remote sites. They were spectacular as expected, but as pictures are much more descriptive than I could ever be, I won’t say to much, other than a few brief comments about each temple.

Kbal Spean

Named for a natural stone bridge over a winding stream, these ruins are a several kilometer walk from the road through genuine jungle. Upon arriving, you’re struck by a stone riverbed which is largely carved, and by the very well preserved relief sculptures on rocks lining the banks. Exploration downstream leads to more carvings and a waterfall, which many people seem to like dipping under.

Banteay Srei

This isolated and small temple is simply stunning. Unique among the Angkor ruins, it was built of a red/pink sandstone which seems to have retained the detail of the relief sculptures much more than some other areas. The intricacy was amazing.

Banteay Samre

A third temple, a third completely different architectural style. This is apparently in the same style as Angkor Wat itself, as well as Beng Melea, the jungle-claimed ruins far outside Siem Reap. Here one could see the familiar moat surrounding the temple, and the motif of 5 temples arranged in a grid. Interestingly, each temple had miniature versions of temples perched on its walls.

Pre Rup

Another very different style, this time the construction was of bricks. Here we had to climb some extremely steep and high steps to reach to pinnacle of the temple, where we could see great views over the surrounding rice fields. Supposedly this is a great spot for sunset, but we had other plans.

Phnom Bakheng

We climbed a hill for about 15 minutes before arriving at the mostly ruined temple on top, along with about 1000 of our closest friends. Everyone milled around for the next hour waiting for the sun to set, and when it did, it was worth it. The contrasting image of the orange gold orb set against the temple spires was a special sight.

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