Travelogue: Angkor Archaeological Park

Angkor Archaeological Park! Angkor Wat! Angkor Thom! Bayon! If not for Angkor Park, Siem Reap would be utterly devoid of tourists. But as it is, every day a phalanx of tourists descend upon the park, and it’s probably one of Cambodia’s greatest sources of income ($20 per person per day for an access permit!) Many people choose to do Angkor Park slowly, over the course of a couple of days, but I chose to do a grand one-day tour, from sunrise to sunset, and visiting all the most famous temples of Angkor Archaeological Park.
Angkor Archaeological Park - Angkor Wat sunrise 14

This will be a very photo-intensive post!

To watch the sunrise over Angkor Wat, we (me + 3 other crazy people I looped into this) woke up at 4 AM, chartered a tuktuk for the day, and set off!
Angkor Archaeological Park - Phnom Bakheng group photo 2

The weather was a bit cloudy that day, so we didn’t get to catch the perfect sunrise, but it was still pretty good:

There was a ridiculous number of tourists at Angkor Wat for the sunrise, making it quite difficult to take photos:
Angkor Archaeological Park - panorama Angkor Wat crowd 1
Angkor Archaeological Park - Angkor Wat sunrise crowds Angkor Archaeological Park - Angkor Wat sunrise 6

After seeing the sunrise at Angkor Wat, we started heading north to Angkor Thom (we’d double back and finish our tour at Angkor Wat), stopping at the South Gate:

We saw a very scary monkey:

Thankfully, the roads of Angkor Archaeological Park are quite good – though quite dusty after a long line of tuktuks, busses, and vans have passed through:
Angkor Archaeological Park - road

In Angkor Thom, we visited Bayon:

Notable of Bayon was the north Library, completely restored by the archaeological teams!
Angkor Archaeological Park - Bayon north library

Lots of rock carvings:

Also lots of rubble:

Rock stacking seems to be pretty popular here:
Angkor Archaeological Park - Bayon rock stacking 1 Angkor Archaeological Park - Bayon rock stacking 2

Oh, did I mention the elephants?  There were elephants, and accompanying elephant rides:
Angkor Archaeological Park - elephant 1 Angkor Archaeological Park - elephant 2

Baphuon:

Phimeanakas:
Angkor Archaeological Park - panorama Phimeanakas

Terrace of the Elephants:

Terrace of the Leper King:

Upon finishing these, we headed out east of Angkor Thom, visiting Thommanon:
Angkor Archaeological Park - Thommanon 1 Angkor Archaeological Park - Thommanon 2

There were a lot of beheaded Buddhas at Thommanon, as well as other temples.  The Cambodian people seem to blame the Vietnamese / Thai:
Angkor Archaeological Park - Thommanon headless Buddha

Chau Say Thevoda:

Some locals selling paintings at Chau Say Thevoda:
Angkor Archaeological Park - Chau Say Tevoda paintings

Ta Keo, a temple undergoing active restoration:

Ta Keo also has an active (?) excavation going on:
Angkor Archaeological Park - Ta Keo dig

Ta Prohm, the post-apocalyptic temple, overgrown with all sorts of trees:

After Ta Prohm, I wondered, if this sort of thing happened to Ta Prohm, what’ll happy to this age’s iconic landmarks in another 500 years?  Will the Statue of Liberty still be standing?  Will it still be recognizable?  Will only parts of it still be around?

They also had a neat display, of the restoration of parts of Prohm:
Angkor Archaeological Park - Ta Prohm restoration

Banteay Kdei:

Sras Srang:
Angkor Archaeological Park - Sras Srang royal pond

Pre Rup, which reminds me of Prambanan in Indonesia:

East Mebon, basically, the same as Pre Rup:

Ta Som, unremarkable:

Neak Pean, tiny temple on a lake:

Preah Khan, it’s an absolute maze, and totally ruined.

Browsing through Preah Khan, I wondered – is Angkor Wat only so well known because it is so well preserved?  After all, temples such as Preah Khan are almost as big and grand as Angkor Wat.

Next, back to Angkor Wat to properly explore the temple!
Angkor Archaeological Park - panorama Angkor Wat bridge 1
Angkor Archaeological Park - panorama Ankor Wat view 1

What struck me when walking around Angkor Wat, is how BIG it is.  From the front, there are the seven iconic spires, and they look pretty huge.  What’s not immediately obvious is that it isn’t just a facade – Angkor Wat is indeed enormous!

Like at Bayon, rock stacking is quite popular:
Angkor Archaeological Park - Angkor Wat rock stacking

There’s also a ton of carvings at Angkor Wat:

Angkor Wat has a third level, only available via a steep climb up and down:
Angkor Archaeological Park - Angkor Wat stairs up 1 Angkor Archaeological Park - Angkor Wat stairs down

Unfortunately, it’s got quite the line, especially since so many of the tourists to Angkor Wat are senior citizens who finally saved up enough to travel…
Angkor Archaeological Park - Angkor Wat line for top

The views at the top?  They are pretty good:
Angkor Archaeological Park - panorama Ankor Wat view 3

And finally, to Phnom Bakheng:

Angkor Archaeological Park - Phnom Bakheng 1 Angkor Archaeological Park - Phnom Bakheng 2

The sunset was amongst the most ‘meh’ I’ve seen:

Bits and bobs:
– Introducing Sayaka, my travel companion for Angkor Wat.  I took and really liked these photos!

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