Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Angkor Watalicious Day 1

I went to sleep sweating my booty off, and opened my crusty eyes at 4AM, rolled out of my -now freezing cold outdoors- dorm bed to meet Peter Paul and a French chick at a tuk-tuk.  Where were we headed?! We were going to see Angkor Wat at sunrise!!!  I was so excited I didn't even feel tired, partially because I about froze in the tuktuk on the way there.. but luckily it warmed up to about 90degrees later in the day!!

When we arrived, there were heaps of people!  People everywhere, wandering and tripping their way into Angkor Wat.. there were no lights anywhere, and if you had a flashlight then you were in luck.  It was amazing.. you could see a few stars, you walked over a really long bridge then into the walled area of the temple.. there's a pond directly in front of the main temple so we sat around that.. unfortunately the Asian tourists beat us to the punch and arrived super early.. they got seats directly in front of Angkor.. ours were off to the side of the pond, so some of my pictures are at a funky angle.. STILL amazing to go from pitch dark, and then gradually being able to make out the outline of the temple, until finally there is a pink sky behind it! WICKED!!!

 I wasn't the only one there:

If you don't know much about Angkor Wat, Wikipedia it.. it is super interesting!  A lot of the temples began construction in the 12th century.  There is a huge influence from India in Cambodia.. many of the temples depict both Buddha and Hindu gods.. however most are Hindu I believe!  Such an interesting concept, and not one you expect in SE Asia!

After meandering around Angkor, we visited all of the temples on the green loop (Phnom Bakkheng, Bayon, Thameanon, Chao Say Theveda, Banteay Kdei, Ta Prom and Prasat Kravan).

Bayon was by far one of my favorites!! It was built in the late 12th century by the Mayhayana Buddhist King Jayavarman VII... when the king died, it was modified and reconstructed by the following kings, giving it a more Hindu and Theravada look!  Each king putting their own religious touch to it!  There are many faces (which resemble the King's) built into the stone formations all around the Bayon... it was such a relaxing place even though there were loads of eyes watching you everywhere you stepped!!

Ta Prohm is obviously a favorite of everyone's because there were LOADS of Korean and Chinese tour groups there... SO... MANY!  They all had their over-sized cameras, and were snapping pictures left and right... there were constantly lines of tour groups, as they would each pose with something and have their picture taken with it.. when all everyone else wants is to have a picture of something without people standing in front of it, not smiling, with the peace sign held up!  OK.. I need to stop, I'm venting!

Have you seen Tomb Raider? Then Ta Prohm will look familiar to you!!  This temple was left primarily like it was found, unlike many of the other temples, and there are massive jungle trees literally still growing on top of it!!  It gives it a super eerie, mystical feature.. super exciting, minus the hoards of people.  As I was walking around, I was trying to imagine myself being the sole person there.. gave me the heeby-jeebys!

We finished our afternoon with watching a bunch of children having the time of their lives in a nearby lake.  It was so cool.. on the edge of the lake was part of an Angkor ruin.. and the kids were jumping off it and into the lake, swimming, laughing.. somehow found a bird that was dying/couldn't fly, and they were all huddling around it and examining it, then one boy takes off and as he's running he's just throwing the poor bird in the air, it would try to fly, then flutter right back down into his hands.. so sad.. but happy that these children were so happy!

We were all exhausted by the time we arrived back at the Guest House.. we started at 4AM and ended at about 3PM.  We rested up a bit, went out for a delicious dinner.. then went to see the Apsara dancing (see previous blog for video)... one tequila shot, some banana spring rolls and one benadryl later.. I had the best nights sleep I've had in the past month!  Glory!

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