Mark and Mika Take on the WORLD!!! travel blog

Through the arch

Climbing the steep steps of Angkor Wat

Well preserved sanskrit

Angkor Wat

Record of historical battle

Entering Ta Prohm

Ruined, but beautiful

Ta Prohm's ruins

The jungle takes over

Breaking through

How big is this tree, do you think?



Entering East Gate of Angkor Thom

Faces of Bayan

It's hare work, holding these up!

Tired after a whole day!

Stopping to enjoy our fresh sugar cane drink

As long as we've been traveling, we've wanted to see the temples of Angkor Wat. We still remember the first National Geographic picture we saw together of this place, a black and white softened print of an elephant crossing the threshold of Angkor Thom's Southern Gate. There was something mysterious about that picture, and ever since we wanted to see the real thing just to see if this place was really as mystical as the picture. We had to survive an on slaught of tuk tuk drivers competing for our business to take us to the nearby town of Siem Riep. As soon as we stepped off the bus, over 50 tuk tuk drivers surrounded us to the point that we were cornered and couldn't move. They all decided that out shouting the competitor would be the best way to get our business. We placed our hands over our ears and eventually managed to squeeze our way to the free shuttle awaiting to take us to Siem Riep. We made it passed the tuk tuk drivers alive, and we can hardly believe that we made it. But we're here.

We thought one of the most rewarding ways to see the major temples of Angkor Wat would be to take the bicycle around. It's about 10 km round trip from Siem Riep to the temples. And most of the major temples are within a 25 km circular route. The temples were definitely not within walking distance, and we wanted to avoid being one of the hordes of people being dumped off the huge tourist buses from one temple to the next. So, we guzzled water much of the way and set off peddling. Even from a distance, Angkor Wat was spectacular. We could easily see its distinctive spires jetting towards the sky behind a huge moat. Specks of orange from the monks' robes appeared and disappeared through the main entrance way. Having been to Bagan in Myanmar, we can definitely say that the temples of Angkor Wat is definitely more spectacular. While Bagan blew us away by the sheer quantity of temples within an area, Angkor Wat, with its well preserved sanskrit left us more in awe. We climbed up to the top of the temples, inspected every nook, and admired the carvings.

Although Angkor Wat is probably one of the most important temple within the vicinity, our favorite temple to visit was actually Ta Prohm. Ta Prohm was beautiful just because the jungle had taken over and made it an artistic masterpiece. Everywhere we turned, the place was in ruins. This temple was definitely not as well preserved as Angkor Wat itself; no really well preserved sanskrit or carvings, but the whole place is unnervingly mysterious and beautiful due to the trees. It's a perfect blend of man and nature. We couldn't believe how the trees seemingly grew into the rocks, as if its a part of the place. We spent hours here, amazed. But, we had more to see, so we continued on to the temple of Bayan.

Before you even reach Bayan, you sense something is watching you. As you draw near, you see gigantic faces on the horizon looking down upon all those below. Bayan is famous for its many faces. All different and none the same. As we walked around, we kept wondering how people ever managed to build temples such as these, and we are even more amazed that the temples have lasted this long, withstanding earthquakes and other forces of nature. When we think of these masterpieces, we really think modern architecture is quite dull. But come and see the temples and decide for yourself.

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