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Angkor Wat – Day 1


Posted by | Evil Kristos | February 23, 2010 | No Comments

Another feverish night and again the weather wasn’t exactly brilliant. I didn’t care. It was time to do something. I got a Tuk Tuk and we went to Angkor Wat.

First stop is the ticket office. Someone had told me that is cheaper when you pay in Riel rather than Dollar. I tried to do the math afterwards but if I am not mistaken it is actually the other way around. That stupid travel agent on the Thai border had told us nothing but crap. Unbelievable. What does she gain from telling people these stories?

It was to late. I had purchased a three day pass which cost 40 Dollars (assuming you don’t listen to advice from idiots and pay in Riel. If you pay in Cambodian money it is even more). That’s not exactly cheap in a country where they have bank notes that worth about 0.3 cent US. After figuring out that I had been ripped off by paying in Cambodian money I was getting slightly fed up with the attitude of the local tourist board. Why are they trying to piss off people.

With my extra special 3 day pass for a very special price I was even more eager to get to Angkor. It was still overcast but what can you do?

From the ticket office it is only a short drive to the actual temple. Even from the distance I could see that parts of the temple were under reconstruction. I was not happy. I was even more unhappy once I gained entrance. Angkor has a big reputation, one of the modern wonders of the world or an even better quote “nothing prepares you for the might of Angkor Wat”. Well, let me put is this way; if the author of the last quote was being ironic then I concur. Angkor Wat is not nearly as impressive as I had expected it to be. And it didn’t end there.

Angkor is big, no question, but is it impressive? I think not. It actually looks better on pictures than in real. I couldn’t believe it. I walked around it, I walked inside but I could not get myself to be impressed. Quite the opposite; Angkor is probably the most disappointing sight I ever had on my list of things to see before I die. It is hereby removed from that list and not because I’ve seen it.

It’s not even ugly. I am quite sure it was quite an impressive sight in it’s day but this is supposed to be a holy place. I simply felt nothing. This place felt absolutely dead to me. I have been to places that had sold their soul to the devil – bad idea – but this had simply lost it. I was most disappointed. This seemed to be one of these days.

Angkor Wat

I know I look fat on that picture but it was the only way I could think of to lighten up the picture

Our next stop was the so called Bayon. It is the second really famous temple in the Angkor universe. It is only a short drive away and it began promising. You enter the temple area by crossing a bridge and the through a narrow gate just wide enough for one car. The gate was impressive; just as you imagine the whole thing. We then closed in on Bayon and again I could not believe what I see.

It famous for these towers that consist of four faces; plenty of them. Well, let put it this way; you can make out the faces and yes there are plenty of these but if you asked me to describe it; a pile of rubble would be the thing that springs to my mind.

Bayon

Bayon

If seen the two big ones and so far this whole Angkor Wat business was one big rip off. This could not be. From Bayon I walked to the next two temples which again did not impress me the least. I was so pissed off that I hardly noticed the elephant terrace. It actually is quite cool.

My Tuk Tuk driver looked at me and obviously noticed that I was not a particularly happy camper. We moved on and this when thing suddenly got better. The on paper not so impressive Ta Keo – I’m guessing here I actually don’t remember the name but Ta Keo on the map is the logical next step from Baphuon – I quite liked.

It was a rather tall and pyramid like temple with incredibly steep and narrow steps. A Japanese guy I met there was so petrified that he only made up the first four and then went back and looked for an easier ascend. It was quite funny. Samurai my ass!

Japanese with vertigo

Japanese with vertigo

I went up anyways and suddenly everything felt right. The temple was not particularly pretty or anything but it had maintained something else: spirit. That is much more important than the looks. In the center piece there was a little shrine that was maintained by a boy. He was hilarious and gave me a quick introduction in how to pay my respect to the Buddha. This is the kind of thing you expect.

It got even better; our next stop was Ta Prohm. There for the first time I thought I’m actually getting something for my money and it was here where I changed my mind. Initially I was considering to move on the next day. Only here I decided that I will use my 3 day pass.

Ta Prohm is so beautiful that I cannot describe it. Instead of clearing the jungle they simply left it. Magnificent trees were growing right in the temple. They grew over walls and building, incorporating them. Despite all the tourists the place was almost calm as if nothing can bother it. I absolutely loved it. Even the sun came out (and stayed for more than 30 seconds) and in the soft light of the afternoon everything looked even more beautiful.

Ta Prohm

Ta Prohm, what a beauty

When I came back to the Tuk Tuk I asked the driver to go back to Angkor. He looked at me, I pointed at the setting sun and he understood. We drove back as quickly as possible. He dropped me at the back entrance from where I rushed to my chosen photo spot. By the time I arrived the sun had disappeared and in many ways that made sense. Honestly; this place does not have good vibes.

I have spoken.

The Eastern Gate Bayon

The Eastern Gate to the temple district of Bayon

Monkey Business

Monkey Business

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