Sunday, July 11, 2010

100707 Siem Reap, Cambodia Pt1: Angkor Wat

We woke up at 4.30am in the morning to get ready to leave at 5am to see the sunrise at the Angkor Wat. We were so excited because we've been talking about seeing the Angkor Wat for years, and the time has come for us to finally see it!

We got to Molly Malone's and met our guide, Chay (pronounced Chai, like the tea) and our tuk-tuk driver. Then we drove all the way to the entrance of the Angkor Wat and had our photographs taken for the 1-day pass. A 1-day pass costs US$20, a 3-day pass costs US$40 and a weeklong pass costs US$60. It is a little pricey, but it seems some of the money goes to the upkeep and restoration of these temples, which costs a lot. At 5am in the morning, we met with no lines at all, but there were already others there before us.

Angkor Wat

The great Angkor Wat in the distance

When we got to the moat of the Angkor Wat, our passes were checked again and we were allowed to walk across the bridge and through the first wall. Through that, we could see the Angkor Wat in the distance. Many tourists were taking pictures and were starting the walk to the old temple. It felt like a pilgrimage - early morning, trodding tourists and the grandeur of it all. It was amazing! Like when I was at the Colloseum, I took some time to ingest the fact that I was here, finally.

At the library buildling

As the sun was not yet up, we took refuge perched on the steps of the library, while other tourists gathered in front of the reflecting pool waiting for the sun to get up. The skies were lightening up in shades of reds, purples and blues. It was beautiful!

Before long, the sun was up, and we decided to head to the reflecting pool after the tourists have left, and took some pictures. I couldn't help but think that Washington, DC feels similar to the Angkor Wat with its grand mall and reflecting pools as well.

Angkor Wat in the mirror pool

We entered the first circle of the Angkor Wat by the southwestern door. These surrounding circles are all covered in bas relief (low relief) depicting the wars between the Khmer people and the Cham people, Hindu deities like Vishnu or other events such as the 'Churning of the Sea of Milk'.

In times of war...

Heaven world, Human world and Hell world

We made it all round the first circle, and headed to the second circle. The second circle of the Angkor Wat had many Buddhas, from when the temple was changed from a Hindu temple to a Buddhist temple by Jayavarman VII. However, most of these Buddhas are headless because when the Thai invaded Cambodia, they chopped off all the heads of these Buddhas and brought them back to Thailand.

one of the many headless Buddhas

After walking through the second circle, we arrived at the third circle. As it was too early (it only opens at 8am) to climb up to the third circle where only the high priests were allowed, we had to wait.
highest point on the Angkor Wat

The stairway up...
On the highest circle of the Angkor Wat, there lies four statues of Buddha right in the center of the Angkor Wat. There are also water holes there for collecting rain water for the high priests use.

Buddha statue with gold cloths on Circle 3

View from the top, looking down at circles 2 and 3

Hide and seek on Circle 3
After Circle 3, we headed out of the Angkor Wat and to breakfast! :) As the breakfast place was still within the whole touristy Angkor Wat, it was slightly more expensive than the cafes in Siem Reap. I had fried rice with chicken (US$2.75) and milk with honey (US$1.50).

Lions were guard animals

milk and honey!

Milk + Honey with Fried Rice and Chicken

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