Day 3 was upon us and we once more jumped in the TukTuk that we were slowly to label, “The Red Baron”!
Today we would finish the temples that straddle around Angkor Wat. This would include one of the big hitters in Ta Prohm as part of the journey.
First stop was ….
From the outside it just looks like a bunch of red brick chimneys. If the sun was starting to get to you one could imagine Dick Van Dyke and a bunch of cockney chimney sweeps dancing in between them.
The five structures were built for Hindu worship in AD 921 and is unusual as it was not built by royalty.
The treasure here, as is often the case, is inside those chimneys. The images of Vishnu in the centre chimney are very impressive and intricate as are the writings that are chiseled into the door frames. The Vishnu image shows him taking the three gigantic steps to create the world is also present.
From here we went to Ta Keo.
Like a blank canvass. This temple has no decorative carvings or statues.
Inscriptions contend that during construction in the temple was struck by lightning, and given as a bad omen, all work was stopped. Others say that the hard sandstone would not be easy to chisel. Who knows?
This is a huge shame as this would have been hugely impressive. The first temple to be entirely made of sandstone. It stands 50 metres high and it’s huge 5 towers that adorn the top platform are very large. If it wasn’t for the jungle you would get some great photos up here.
But… There were steps to get there. Lots of them!!
On the way out we finally bought some postcards from one of the Urchins. At 13 for $1 it was a bargain, and we needed them.
Next up was the big one. Ta Prohm
Featured prominently in the Tomb Raider movie this temple was crawling with tourists. At times it was almost claustrophobic!!
But we know how to beat the Koreans at their own game and we took our time with photos to get the best pose.
If any temple was to take the mantle of ‘Jungle Temple’ then it would be Ta Prohm. It looks pretty much like every other temple would have looked all those years ago when they were rediscovered by French Explorers.
Built in 1186 AD, this Buddhist Temple was built in the memory of, yep you guessed it, King Jayavarman VII. According to inscriptions, over 80000 people were needed to maintain or attend the temple from Monks to Officials and even over 600 dancers.
Walking along the cramped corridors with rubble strewn in your path and moss clinging to the walls provides a real Indiana Jones feel to a visit to Ta Prohm.
In many respects the rawness of the Temple and it’s collection of trees place Ta Prohm on top,in our minds, of all the temples we have seen.
Bantay Kdei and Sra Srang
After lunch our last temple of the day (thank god) was Bantay Kdei.
A massive Buddhist Monastery from the 12th century AD, this temple was surrounded by four concentric walls and each of its entrances held aloft the four faces of Avalokiteshvara.
Our first thoughts of this temple harken to the trio of kids who tried to sell us souvenirs at the entrance, and then proceeded to follow us into the temple – they really needed to make a sale!
Karen was the first one to shrug off her pursuer by displaying her empty pockets. John however took longer as the wee boy just kept repeating his song:
“10 postcards for 1 dollar”
But if you remember from earlier, John had bought postcards at Ta Keo! Eventually fed up, John produced them, waved them and sang to the boy…
“10 postcards for 1 dollar”.
We have never seen such a look of shock and or anger from anyone so small, one day there would be a reckoning!
The third child had latched onto another tourist, and at this time is probably still hassling her.
Most of the temple was unfinished and was in quite a state of neglect so it didn’t take too long to navigate through. At one point we were beckoned to a side corridor to see a spider. Big deal we thought.
How wrong were we… It was huge!!!
Exiting the temple we crossed the road to take some photos of Sra Srang (Pool of Ablutions). Measuring 800 x 400m, the pool was reserved for only the King and his consorts.
At this point we were melting and about to collapse from the harsh sun. Just when all hope was lost, Karen pricked up her ears to hear the familiar chugging of our TukTuk and we looked up to see a beaming Sophoryl beckoning us into the back.
A long day was over but it meant that we only had a few more temples to go tomorrow.