The Angkor photos: Part one

There’s plenty of literature and information about the Angkor temples out there, so I won’t write any more about history of the sites we visited. I’ll include links when there are some in case you want to find out more.

We saw A LOT in the four days we spent at Angkor and I can confidently say that the temples live up to the hype. They simply are amazing.

Ironically, while Angkor Wat was fascinating and beautiful, this most iconic and well-known of the sites at Angkor was actually the place that excited me the least. I totally enjoyed it and think it is beautiful and not to be missed, but it was nearly all the other places we went that felt really magical and that managed to captivate and bewitch me.

I’m listing the places we went in chronological order, with a handful of photos and highlights from each in the hopes that these posts won’t grow to gargantuan sizes. 🙂

Kbal Spean (River of a thousand lingas)
A long, windy, interesting tuk tuk drive away from Siem Reap, it’s a bit of a hike through humid, gorgeous jungle to get to the “River of a thousand lingas”. The forest is amazing, full of fascinating bugs including incredibly loud cicadas that sound like an awful lot like power tools (yes, they were that loud!) and sweet butterflies that kept us company along the path, even hitching rides on our shoulders from time to time. The ancient faces carved into the river rock exuded an exquisite peace. We just loved it. Fun too to see bunches of Cambodian teenagers messing around and cooling off at the waterfall right by all these amazing, historic carvings. What an awesome hang out spot!

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Banteay Srei
Surrounded by majestic, tall trees. Amazing, intricate carvings in warm rock all glowing with the warmth of the sun. The crooked official who wanted to sell us “V.I.P. access” to the restricted part of the temple. The powerful heat of the afternoon sun as we stood taking in the view of the beautiful rice fields behind the temple. The cool, inquisitive, acrobatic bug that kept us company and loved jumping on Roman’s camera while we soaked in the atmosphere on the temple wall. The beautiful rainbow against dark skies that launched itself out of the fields as we drove back to Siem Reap.

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Beng Mealea
A place to feel like Indiana Jones, dwarfed by insanely huge trees, clambering over massive, fallen-down bits of temple, in a place where nature is claiming back the stone. Really atmospheric and incredible, I just loved loved loved the trees. 🙂

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This is a more simple temple, not so much carving to see as other places we’d visited, but I loved it for the active monastery that sits at one edge, and for the disabled musicians who were playing traditional Khmer music for tourists. Till then I’d never really gotten into Cambodian music, but this was just spellbinding and I was transfixed, sitting under the green and blue canopy of tree and sky at the edge of their simple stage and taking it all in. Lovely.

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