Despite only getting to see some of the main temple, we couldn’t go back, because as I mentioned in the last post: there’s just too much other stuff to see! So, with a rather saddened heart we journeyed onto new territory. Thankfully, we weren’t disappointed!
We went to another area called Bayon. Upon our arrival, our bus drivers informed us that our bus was to big to fit between the pillars of the rock gateway, so we would have to get out and walk it. While the majority of people do this, others travel in style, like the Kings of Cambodia you might say; they travel on elephant. Yes, elephants are there, for a small few, to take you the mile or so that it takes to get to the ruins. I enjoyed being able to watch several elephants walking to and from the ruins. The walk is an easy one with plenty of shade. Elephants just make it feel more Southeast Asian.
Bayon is “newer” than Angkor Wat, or perhaps more recent is the correct term, but in either case its condition isn’t much better than that of Angkor Wat. Abandonment and jungle have definitely taken their toll. Another quick note: despite the Western idea of Angkor being “discovered”, the Khmer never forgot about this place. Sure, they moved away for survival purposes, but it was still being used (and still is today) as a Buddhist temple for worship. I bring this up because while here, Martina and I had a chance to pay our respects at one of the shrines. For us it was a special moment and I can only imagine the feeling it instills in a faithful follower of Buddhism.
Bayon, like Angkor Wat, had Apsara dancers on walls and pillars too. Bayon, however, is probably best known for all the stone carved faces everywhere. From the gate our bus couldn’t get through to the walls of the temple their, lots of faces. Martina and I were able to see most everything here and then it was time for another temple.
The next area we visited showed just how powerful the jungle really is. Tha Prum has huge trees coming out of everywhere. The trees aren’t thick like a Redwood per say, but the roots are just so spread out that they consume everything in their way. I think people have suggested getting rid of the trees, but to do so would completely destroy what’s left of the temples. So nature will just have to run its course. Tha Prum was peaceful; the temple and trees not really fighting each other. They work together to create tranquility. However, we were torn from this tranquility due to our schedule and away we went.
We visited two more temple areas; each with a spectacular view. At the second temple we tried to watch the sunset, but due to clouds we were thwarted. The climb up this temple was basically vertical, and in retrospect, maybe Martina and I should’ve stayed below, but this is my adventure right? No way was I going to let us miss it if I could. We reached the top, and eventually the bottom, safely. Scary as it was, it was worth it.
Tired and achy, we left Angkor behind and found a wonderful Mexican place in Siem Reap (seriously, it was good). Good food with good friends, was a great ending to a fabulous day. Thanks for bearing with me through this extra long post. Adventure on friends!