Posts Tagged With: temples

Awe & Wonder: Preha Kahn

Our time in Cambodia was winding down and we had 1 last day of the 3 day ticket to the Angkor Wat site. After spending the morning at the floating village we decided to try to capture the sunset at Angkor Wat and see one last temple for the remaining part of the day. Our driver wanted to take us to the Lady Temple, but it was a bit far out. I read about Preha Kahn and decided that would be our last temple visit.

Leading up to the gate this bridge with the carved images guides your way.

Leading up to the gate this bridge with the carved images guides your way.

Preha Kahn is similar in design to Ta Prohm since it was built by the same ruler. One of the temples was built for his father, the other his mother. This temple had been used as a monastery and residence for the King over time. This temple promised fewer people, but the same enchanting trees and vines over walls. Unfortunately not all temples have been saved –yet. Preha Kahn lay mostly in ruin to a larger extent than the other temples we had seen. It was still something I wished to see and get more shots of the atmosphere that intrigued me. Seeing the temples almost brought me back in time as my eyes tried to soak it all in. The feeling of peace and freedom to explore the ruins where little was off limits was unlike any other travel experience where velvet ropes and guards hush you and hold you back.

Since our return I have read about tourists climbing to roof tops and exclaiming they are re-acting scenes from movies and video games which, is a little shocking. I guess some people take more liberties and blur the world of fantasy and reality more than most. As more tourists come so does the wear and tear on these ancient sites. Preservation is starting to become more important now than ever. Restoration is expensive and pain staking, so I assume that fewer liberties will be allowed and more restrictions will be the norm in the near future.

 

The wall to protect the inner temples inside the main gate. It was said the large moats surrounding the temple complexes held crocodiles to help protect!

The wall around the inner temples inside the main gate. It was said the large moats surrounding the many temple complexes held crocodiles to help protect!

Strolling up from the main road we followed a long sandy path where a child was drawing designs and pictures in the dirt as a tourist tried to question him and get him to pose with his works. More rubble lay about and statues were headless as well as some ancient gods had been chiseled out of the bas reliefs. These temples had been Hindu and Buddhist over time and when one took over the former gods had been erased in some instances. What struck us more was the crumbling walls toppled by giant trees and roots. Some of the trees had been partially chopped down, but the roots still head fast in ancient foundations. Each turn seemed to show us another tree, a larger one with a firm grasp trying hard to erase an ancient civilization.

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There is a delicate balance being played out between nature and man. Tourists come to see the lost cities smothered in trees with its mystique and atmosphere and nature fights to reclaim its land. On one side nature needs to be controlled so it doesn’t completely destroy the site, but without this unique phenomenon will the tourists keep coming?

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Light was fading fast, so we needed to cut our visit short, so we could race to Angkor Wat to try to view sunset. With time against us we went in the same gate we viewed sunrise and needed to race across the grounds to the opposite side if we wanted the temple silhouetted against the colourful sky. Crowds were exiting as the day was nearly done. With the sun to our back we paused to look around and see if the sky was starting to light up in brilliant colours only to realise a large cloud bank stretched across the horizon. As luck would have it we would also miss sunset. With disappointment I stopped to look around one last time and soak it all in. Part of travel is sometimes missed opportunities, but many more great adventures will outweigh the things left undone. Leaving a great destination with more to see and do is all the more reason to return.

 

This is the fifth in a series of posts about our December trip to Siem Reap, Cambodia. If you would like to see more be sure to check out:

 

Stay tuned… with Chinese New Year holiday upon us we are heading to the Philippines for a few days of rest and relaxation. I apologise now if it takes me a little longer than usual to respond to comments.

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Angkor Wat Awe and Wonder

The morning started at 4:30 AM with a wake up call. Today was an early start to make sunrise at the ancient temples of Angkor Wat. Quickly we dressed for the early morning chill and ran downstairs to the lobby to meet our driver and guide for the day, Rak. Sleepily we climbed into the car and drove off into the darkness. We drove round twists and turns with the sound of the tuk tuk motors filling the air as we passed them in our car. We came to a large ticket area to buy our 3 day passes ($20 USD for 1 day and $40 for 3), get  our photo taken to be placed on the ticket. The large crowds were quickly handled and within minutes we were back in the car and getting instructions as to where to go once we were dropped off at the gate. It was pitch dark with no street lights, luckily I brought a small portable flashlight. Rak pointed the direction and we were off with the crowds over ancient cobbled stone and we picked our way in the darkness following the simple beam of light. Suddenly a slight outline of the temple loomed in front of us. It was right there the entire time. My breath caught in my throat, as awe washed over me. I had imagined it far from the road, but it was right in front of us the whole time hidden in the inky blackness. We continued on up some stairs feeling our way in the dark. On the other side we could clearly see the temple and where the reflecting pond was to get the best photos.

The large crowd of people spread out along the pond, so it was difficult to get a good place to view the sunrise and see its reflection in the said pond. I pushed through the crowds looking for a better place. On the opposite side a smaller pond was less crowded, so we moved there and waited for the sun. The temples were now outlined by the ever lightening sky. Unfortunately after the early morning start the low hanging mist and cloud along the horizon blocked out the sunrise leaving a bland, dull sky. It was disappointing we missed the glorious colours and sunrise, especailly since the sky appeared clear when we left, oh well the temples were still there, so we set off to explore.

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Two smaller structures were near the reflecting ponds, so we started there. We then went to the main temple area. It is 3 levels and each one is a steep climb. In some places wooden staircases and railings were added to make the climb easier. Few people were around, so we were able to explore and take photos with ease. A large crowd had gathered in one area and suddenly everyone jumped up and a rope barrier was moved to allow the crowds to climb to the highest level. Take note that Angkor Wat is a temple and you must be respectful, so no short shorts or uncovered shoulders are allowed. If you do not follow this request you will not be allowed to enter. As far as I know a scarf isn’t enough to cover your arms and shoulders. It must be a proper top. The day we visited it remained cool, so it wasn’t a problem for us. You should also note the ticket you purchased will be requested to be presented at numerous locations even within the same temple complex. It is a paper ticket, so keep it safe. We clambered up the steep stairs and the view was worth it. The view over the grounds and surrounding area was stunning. The sun was finally making a brief appearance and it highlighted all the carvings and bas reliefs that covered the walls. The amount of workmanship in this temple and the carvings that covered every wall, celing and doorway was amazing. Some told stories while others showed gods, or intricate sdesigns. The detail was fantastic and some carvings were shallow and worn over time while others were deep.

detailed carvings covered every surface

detailed carvings covered every surface

The pillars represented mountains and look like lotus buds

IMG_6059View from the Top

Intricate carvings

Intricate carvings

Leaving the temple we followed the same route we took before sunrise. We were surprised how large the moat was surrounding the temple complex, like a river,  and how close we were to  the edge picking our way through the darkness. The uneven large stone bridge was massive. Along the way we could spot the restoration work that has been taking place to preserve this incredible landmark and World Heritage sight.

view towards the main gate

view towards the main gate

Stay tuned… more temples and Siem Reap to come.

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