Siem Reap - city of temples, Cambodia
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  • After our stay in Phnom Penh (capital of Cambodia), we bused to Siem Reap where the ancient temples of Angkor are located.

    Angkor Wat is the most preserved temple complex and the one that has become a symbol of Cambodia. The initial design and construction of the temple took place in the first half of the 12th century and is dedicated to the god Vishnu. It was built as the king's state temple and capital city. The complex consists of a moat, outer wall, gopura (entrance pavilion), inner terrace and enclosure where the towers lie.

    Angkor Thom is the second largest complex of temples. Here, we visited the Bayon Temple - it's most distinctive feature is the multitude of serene and massive stone faces on the many towers which jut out from the upper terrace and cluster around its central peak. The Baphuon Temple, also in the Angkor Thom complex, is slowly being reconstructed with financial aid from Japan.

    Located at the east gate of Angkor Thom is another series of temples. We visited Ta Keo and Ta Prohm. Ta Keo is a symbolic depiction of Mount Meru, home of the Hindu gods. Ta Prohm has been left in much the same condition in which it was found: the photogenic and atmospheric combination of trees growing out of the ruins and the jungle surroundings have made it one of Angkor's most popular temples with visitors. The movie, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider features several characters visiting Angkor Thom during their trip to Cambodia to recover the first piece of the Triangle of Light.

    The final temple we visited was Phnom Bakeng, north-west of Angkor Wat. Built on a natural hill, is the spot where masses of tourist gather to watch the setting sun over the west and the changing colours of Angkor Wat

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    We took the Paramount Angkor Express between Phnom Penh and Siem Reap - not too bad a bus
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    Not far from where we stopped for lunch was an open market - not quite Woolworths
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    Transportation Cambodian style
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    Think these were destined for the tourist market
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    This was a crowd of tuk-tuk / mortocycle drivers that gathered when our bus arrived - each trying to obtain a fare ferrying passengers to their final destination
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    Our room at the Tara Angkor Hotel - and this was the basic room
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    The room was a lot nicer than the pics show
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    The hotel compound taken from the 3rd floor of the hotel
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    Another shot of the hotel compound
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    The same view at dusk - quite pretty with all the lights
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    View from opposite angle
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    Inside the hotel
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    A short distance behind the hotel is the Siem Reap River. Houses with river views
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    Anywhere can be a playground
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    The road alongside the river. These motorbike riders tried selling us a ride, but got their photo taken instead
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    Home and shrine alongside the river
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    The moat surrounding Angkor Wat
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    The land bridge (Naga Causeway) to Angkor Wat from the West entrance
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    The gopura (entrance pavilion) on the west end of angkor wat
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    The entrance pavilion in foreground and quincunx of towers in the background. Photo taken in the late afternoon
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    A statue of Vishnu, to whom the Temple is dedicated, (height approx. 4 metres), at the entry of the Outer Enclosure.
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    Bas-relief carving in the gopura
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    Looking out to the quincunx of towers from the gopura
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    Just some of the many tourist we encountered. 3 of the 5 towers of the inner gallery in Angkor Wat
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    The north library showing some reconstruction (there is one on the south side too)
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    A different view of the north library
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    From the towers looking back towards the entrance pavilion
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    Entrance to the terrace surrounding the towers
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    bas-relief carving on sandstone
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    Walkway inside the terrace
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    Another walkway in the terrace
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    Carvings of the Apsara dance
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    The wat is still in use today with various shrines / altars within
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    The central gallery rising to the central tower (not in pic, but barely visible to the left). Note very steep steps that is typical of many of the temples
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    Devatas are characteristic of the Angkor Wat style
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    The temple as viewed from the east
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    The inner gallery of the temple
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    Restoration to the temple continues
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    This monkey was away with her thoughts and didn't seem to pay much attention to us
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    The outer wall
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    The temple as viewed from the south
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    The gopura on the south side - seldom visited as it appears a little out of the way
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    Altar inside the gopura - this temple is in active use
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    The gopura on the east side
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    Bas relief carving
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    Wedding party at Angkor Wat. This was just one of several we saw.
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    Statues on the bridge leading to the Victory Gate of Angkor Thom. These statues on the right of the bridge are Asuras
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    Bayon Temple, Angkor Thom
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    The faces on the temple may represent the king himself; the bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara, guardians of the empire's cardinal points; or some combination of these
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    Relief carvings of ?
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    Baphuon Temple - a jig saw puzzle being put back together
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    Bridge to Baphuon Temple (facing away)
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    Another young child 'forced' to sell little trinkets to tourists
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    Just a tiny idea of what the tourist numbers were like (multiply that all around the different temples). The rubble, I believe, form part of the Phimeanakas temple.
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    A section of the 'Terrace of the Elephants'
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    An information sign indicate these structures to be 'hospitals'.
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    Chao Say Tevoda
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    Chao Say Tevoda
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    Ta Keo Temple (tower of crystal glass)
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    Steep (very steep) steps up the Ta Keo Temple
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    Same steps heading down. To preserve our bones, we didn't head back down this way but used a similar but less steep set
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    Grounds of the Ta Prohm temple
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    The cumbling walls have been left untouched to give visitors a sense of what the temples were like when initially discovered
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    Yes, those are the roots of the stangling fig coming down the side of the building
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    I wonder who the unlucky tourist will be when the walls come crumbling down?
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    Children selling postcards at the temple. A hard life, but they still have a smile
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    Phnom Bakheng. Centre of the first kingdom of Angkor [Tourist leaving after viewing the sunset]
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    One of five sandstone sanctuaries at the top of Phnom Bakheng temple
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    Tourists (both local and foreign variety) gather for the sunset view over this temple
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    Angkor Wat to the east of Phnom Bakheng as the sun sets in the west. Look carefully and Siem Reap is in the background
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    A gecko that stayed for the sunset viewing as well - nicely camouflaged on the temple stone
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    The very newly completed National Museum. Well worth a visit
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    The grounds of the museum
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    The museum is laid out in a series of galleries (very large rooms) surrouding an inner courtyard of pools and a cafe
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    Some lion statues at the entrance to the museum - not sure if these are replicas or the real thing, but note they are still on their wooden palettes
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    Part of the royal independence garden in Siem Reap
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    Opposing view of the garden with the 'Raffles Hotel' in the background
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    Drink seller selling drinks at the park from an open bamboo container. Note same cup used for all customers
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    They start at a young age here selling anything that someone will buy
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    Just one of the many restaurants we ate at. This was in 'restaurant alley' - just for the tourists!
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    Snake wine to the top and 'muscle tonic' to the bottom - hmmmmm
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    Siem Reap International Airport as seen from the entrance
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    Airport building from the tarmac as we bid farewell to Cambodia and our holiday in this part of the world