Saturday, April 26, 2014

Bayon Temple and Preah Khan

After exploring the majestic Angkor Wat temple, our tuk tuk driver picked us up at the entrance to take us to another famous site, the Bayon Temple. Driving through the park, we came across a bridge with these big guys lined up along the edges. They don't look very happy! 

The temples are quite far from each other so it makes sense to hire a tuk tuk driver for the day and have him take you around. Upon arriving at Bayon Temple we noticed that a lot of it is still in ruins and disrepair. In a way, these imperfections made everything feel more authentic. It wasn't like a museum, where cosmetic touches will sometimes be added to exhibits. I'm not sure if sites are left this way out of authenticity or simply funding and time issues.

Again, there were so many interesting carvings into the stones. I wish I knew more and could understand what the significance of these depictions are.

The temple is famous for the huge faces carved in the big pillars. Do you see them? Lots of tourists were trying to take photos at angles where it would seem like they were kissing the faces.

Then we were ready to eat lunch at the early hour of 10AM! There are lots of little restaurant stands dotting the archaeological park, catering solely to tourists. Our tuk tuk driver took us to his friend's eatery. It's quite interesting to think about the informal networks that exist within those in the tourism industry. It makes sense to create these connections - hotels, restaurants, even massage parlors have relationships with specific drivers. This creates efficiency and trust in an otherwise unregulated and chaotic system.

A big bowl of chicken cabbage soup, cooked to order, was perfect for the drizzling weather.

Even though it was before noon, we were exhausted from the hours of walking around. We went to one final temple on the recommendation of our tuk tuk driver, called Preah Khan. It is a low-lying building, an extensive maze of walls, stones, and pathways. The two major pathways running through the temple crisscross, creating four main entrances at the cardinal directions.

The stones were such a unique blend of colors, melding slowly from aqua green to light pink and orange. They seemed tumbled about, lying haphazardly on the floor of the temple.

Sadly the temple has fallen victim to thieves throughout the years. There are a lot of statues looking like the below, missing everything except the feet. I imagine that all the heads and torsos are hidden away in private galleries all over the world.

There was a lot more to see, but we were so wiped out from almost eight hours of touring. It's recommended that you give Angkor Wat a few days at the very least if you want to see most of it. You can get a 3-day pass for $40USD. Unfortunately, we only had a short while in Cambodia, but what we did see was amazing!

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