No visitor in Cambodia should skip the temples of Angkor Archaelogical Park in Siem Reap. Angkor is one of the most important archaeological sites in South-East Asia. These temples including Angkor Wat, are the greatest remains of the different capitals of the Khmer Empire, from the 9th to the 15th century. Archaelogical park is huge covering approx 400 km2 and it consists of scores of temples, hydraulic structures as well as communication routes. Since Angkor is one of those once-in-a-lifetime-visit-destinations we chose to do our expedition properly instead of just going to ‘see some old piles of stones’ for a day. Actually we started by visiting Angkor National Museum in Siem Reap and got to know a lot about the history of the Khmer Empire. Temples represent both hindu and buddhist cultures and visiting the museum gave us hints of which details we should look carefully when visiting the temples. Have to say that visiting the museum was so inspiring that we spent almost 5 hours there…until our stomachs made noises so loud that we had to leave for lunch.

While many people buy only a one-day-pass to the area, we bought 3-days-pass. (For HC-temple-lovers there is also 7-days-passes available!) First day we rent a tuk-tuk with driver and did the so called ‘grand-circuit’ and went to see some smaller temples to arouse our appetite for the bigger ones. During the next day we rent bicycles and cycled to see the temples of Ta Phrom and Bayon. Even they call our second day route ‘small circuit’ we noticed by the end of the day that we had bicycled almost 40 kilometres back and forth to Siem Reap! We left Angkor Wat for the last morning and left our hotel by tuk-tuk at 5am in order to see the sunrise in Angkor. And yep, we saw the sunrise (with zillions of other people). But have to say that in order to have a nice pic I was more looking at the sunrise through a camera lens. Our definite highlight was seeing the bas-relief of great hindu mythology ‘Churning of the ocean of milk’ carved to the corridor wall in Angkor Wat. As a closure I would like to cite a tourist we saw in Angkor: “After three days, we had absolutely 0 percent of interest of any more temples”. But I’m glad that I can feel that three days was time long enough to get under the surface at least some of the stories of these stones!

DSC_2474 Welcome to the Angkor Archaelogical Park

DSC_2473 God ‘Deva’ pulling a snake ‘Vasuki’ as descridbed in hindu epic ‘Churning of the ocean of milk’ which is one of the best known hindu mythologies. Snake can be found in many balustrades in South-East Asia.

DSC_2531 Route to some of the temples was truly scenic!

DSC_2486 Temple of Preah Khan was full of stone carvings

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    Temple of Preah Khan with hindu God Shiva carved to the stone

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    Temple of Preah Khan with holy man ‘rishi’

DSC_2556_edited_2 Sunset at Pre Rup-temple with Auli and Shinn from Malaysia.

DSC_2549 Tuk-tuk drivers have lots of time to chill when tourists are touring temples.

DSC_2557_edited ‘Postcards for one dollar!’

DSC_2560 Sunset at Pre Rup-temple with Auli and Shinn from Malaysia.

DSC_2596_edited Day two’s highlight was a mahayana buddhist temple ‘Bayon’.

DSC_2625 Bayon has 54 towers each decorated with four ‘Avalokiteshvara’s’ head. For buddhists Avalokiteshvara means personification of perfect Compassion.

DSC_2626 Avalokiteshvaras’ heads are enormous.

DSC_2604 Bas-reliefs in Bayon describes daily life in 12th century Cambodia.

DSC_2608_edited_edited Funny detail one guide told us…turtle is biting man’s ass. Bayon.

DSC_2599 There were many ‘Apsaras’ carved to the stones. Apsara is a female spirit of the clouds and waters in Hindu and Buddhist mythology.

DSC_2676_edited Sunrise over Angkor Wat was impressive.

DSC_2667 Once again we weren’t the only ones there…

DSC_2707_edited ‘Churning of the ocean of milk’ carved in the corridor of Angkor Wat. On this side demons ‘Asuras’ are pulling a snake ‘Vasuki’ in order to churn the milk from the ocean. Apsaras can be found flying above them.

DSC_2711_edited ‘Churning of the ocean of milk’ carved in the corridor of Angkor Wat. On this side monkey god Hanuman helps Gods ‘Devas’ to pull the snake ‘Vasuki’. Apsaras can be found flying above them.

DSC_2724 Happy to leave Angkor after 3 intense days!

-Katariina