Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Angkor Thom

We spent the entire day today in Angkor Thom. This is a walled city just north of Angkor Wat. ("Angkor" is the name of the ancient Capitol city. "Wat" means temple, so Angkor Wat was the main temple for the city of Angkor. "Thom" is Cambodian for big. Angkor Thom was the actual city where people lived.) There are several gates into the city, mainly in the cardinal directions. Inside the walls are numerous temples and ancient structures, the most famous of which is Bayon.

But before you even get there, you pass by these guys, and they're super fun to watch.

Isa was in love with the little baby monkeys. And honestly, can you blame her?

We were on our bikes again today, so we stopped several times when we saw animals on the side of the road. Eventually, we made it up to the first temple: Bayon.

Bayon is famous for two reasons. Probably the most obvious one is all the faces on the towers. Each tower has four faces, all totaled there are more than 200 faces on the temple towers. It's supposedly the face of the king, Jayavarman VII. Kind of like an all seeing big brother is watching you always feeling.

The second reason it's famous is for it's bas reliefs that tell important stories of ancient Khmer history and Hindu mythology.

Next, we rode up to the center of Angkor Thom and had lunch at one of the restaurant stalls. I worked my language skills and the lady gave us the local discount on our meals and our pineapple shake. Yum.

Straight over from the restaurants, we wandered into the Terrace of the Leper King.

I don't know anything about this. If you want to know more, google it. It's an ancient wall with lots of carvings along its zigzagging path.

From here, we entered the inner wall and checked out Phimeanakas ("PEE-mian-aa-KAH"). This is a decent sized mountain temple. I'm not sure why they put new stairs on this on at all. They're almost more difficult to climb than the original stone stairs.

We played around at the top for a while, I talked to the lady at the very top, who prayed for me and Isa to have a long life of prosperity and happiness and good health. I gave her 500 riel, which is about 12.5 cents, and she was very happy.

We left Phimeanakas and wandered north toward Preah Palilay. We came to a river with this awesome bridge we had to cross.

Preah Palilay was almost completely in ruins...

...so we explored for a bit and then went back to the bikes...

...and rode down to the Elephant Terrace.

We walked along the Elephant Terrace for a while until we came upon Baphuon ("Ba-poo-in"). It was getting close to sunset at this point, so most people were heading back to Angkor Wat or Phnom Bakeng (another popular sunset point that we'll go to tomorrow), so they left Baphuon pretty much to us alone.

We sat up top and waited for sunset from there.

When the sun set, we made our way back to the bikes, but it was already dark before we got to Bayon, let alone out of Angkor Thom or the park. It was extremely dark in the park, since there are no street lights or anything. Isa turned on her flashlight on the iPhone and put it in her front basket so she could see/people could see us. We rode back on Charles de Gaulle because there are some lights along that road. It was a nice, pleasant, cool ride back into town.

When we got back to Siem Reap, we stopped by the corner market for some ice cream. It's become almost a nightly tradition to get some ice cream to cap the night. Different countries have had very different options. Here in Cambodia, this is our new favorite.

They're like Bonbons. Vanilla ice cream in delicious chocolate. Very yummy.

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