Temples of Angkor pt.2

8 Sep

On our second day playing tourist in Siem Reap, Orestes and I did the outer temple circuit and saw some of the lesser known temples: Pre Rup, Ta Som, Neak Pean, and Preah Khan. There is absolutely no question that the main temples of the inner circuit are completely amazing; however, I enjoyed our second day much more. The main temples were exceptionally crowded, and although they were of course beautiful, the hordes of tourists crawling all over the ruins somewhat detracted from their awesomeness (in my opinion). On the second day, we did not set out until the afternoon, and several of the temples were virtually empty. Preah Khan in particular was huge and sprawling, and we encountered almost no one. The lack of crowds made the ruins feel more mysterious, like they were forgotten in time. I was a fan.

A little about each of the temples:

Pre Rup ~ Pre Rup reminded me of the Mayan ruins my friends and I visited at Tikal in Guatemala. There were no additional stairs or guards, and we were able to climb right up the original temple steps, perch at the top, and enjoy the view of the surrounding jungle. The temple was constructed of a different type of brick than some of the others, so the whole thing is slightly orange/reddish.

Ta Som ~ Ta Som looked a bit like Ta Prohm from the day before. It is buried in the jungle, and the same trees that are invading Ta Prohm are all over Ta Som. Sadly, the trees are actually destroying the temples, but they look so amazing that the various agencies doing the temple restorations leave the trees in place, and then prop up the walls so they don’t fall over.

Neak Pean ~ As a temple, Neak Pean was uneventful (how jaded a statement to make about an ancient ruin). The interesting part of Neak Pean was the route to it. Neak Pean is located in the middle of a large baray or manmade moat. To get there, one must walk across a long causeway, through some swamp, and finally emerge at the temple. The swamp water was covered in algae that was the craziest shade of green – Orestes joked that we should keep a look out for the lurking eyes of swamp beasts.

Preah Khan ~ This was my favorite of the temples we visited; as I said above, the temple covered a large amount of space and, like Ta Som, was half buried in the jungle. As there was almost no one about, we were free to clamber over rocks, through doorways, and wherever struck our fancy. I could have stayed there for hours and never grown tired of staring at the amazing-ness around me.

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