Now we’ve fully enjoyed the sunrise in front of Angkor Wat -the light was incredible-, we get back to our driver, and take the time to decide what will be our Itinerary. If you do Angkor by Tuktuk you basically have the choice between a small or a large loop. The small one takes around 3-4 hours and will let you see the three main temples Angkor Wat, Bayon and Ta Phrom, plus a few other smaller ruins. We are more interested in the big loop, which takes 5-6 hours to go through, and lets you see some less touristic sites.
Following the advice of Daral – our excellent tuktuk driver – Aurélien, Lauren, Tamar, Mathilda and I agree to tweak the itinerary a little bit. By the way we settled to pay 4$ each for the whole tuktuk tour, I’d advise you to pay a visit to Daral’s website, he’s a very friendly and easy going person, the best driver I’ve met in Asia 🙂
Around Angkor Wat – aka the most visited temple – are wandering a lot of monkeys, they know food comes from the tourists 😉 I wasn’t quite ready for that guy, my camera was still on speed priority from the timelapse, but I like how his body is blurred whereas his foot and the rest of the frame is pretty sharp.
Our first stop isn’t really about temples per say. As we woke up around 4am, we’re starting to starve a little bit. We find a place just next to Preah Pithu to have breakfast. Beware, if you plan to eat in Angkor, be ready to bargain (a lot) because their prices are almost 3 times more expensive than usual 😐 I take a couple of film shots in Preah Pithu, but it turns out that I screwed up my film roll, and back in Europe I’ll only have blank pictures, I just don’t know it yet… 😔
As we’re progressing through the site, we’re amazed by the amount of temples all around us. Especially in the Bayon area, temples are everywhere ! I think we can’t even imagine how impressive of a city it must have been. It is estimated that at one point its population was over 1 million people, meaning it was the largest city in the world before industrial revolution.
The Bayon is quite majestic itself. In this 3 levels temples, around 2000 large faces are carved amongst 54 towers. It isn’t a coincidence if it’s one of the most famous monuments of Angkor. You’ll find a lot of tourists there, but it is big enough to fit a rather large crowd.
Beware, if you want to go up, you have to wear appropriate clothes, that is to say you should at least cover your shoulder. Nowadays some of the temples in Angkor are still used for religious purposes. Once you’re allowed to go in, you have to climb three rows of steep stairs to get to the top. It’s the same kind of stairs i’d expect to see in a Mayan temple. Getting up there in plain sun light takes a bit of effort, but the view you get from the terrace is rewarding !
Making a quick stop at Bayon’s north gate and Daral offers to take a picture of all of us. I’m glad he had the kindness to immortalize this, because it really was an amazing time with amazing people ! I’ve got so much love for these guys 😘
We can’t stop getting amazed by what we’re seeing, each temple as something new to it. Inside Preah Khan, I notice some fellows picking fruits with a long rod. I ask them if I can try to pick some too, and end up getting my feet eaten by gigantic ants, before experiencing one of the most sour fruits ever. I think those where Langsats, but to this day I’m still not sure.
The next temple on the road is Jayatataka. Much smaller than the other, its particularity is to be surrounded by an ornamental lake… well during the wet season because right now all what’s left from the lake is this little muddy pond 😥 this must be really gorgeous with the reflection of water. Or the surroundings are very dry, and the bridge leading to Jayatataka is basically crossing a desert.
We’re approaching the end of our journey, it’s now around 3pm and still crazy hot out there. We take a little short break at Ta saom and rest a bit in the shadow. The tree standing on it has amazing shapes, and there’s this young girl selling bracelets with a quite serious look. I chose to make it black and white because I found the colors to be too distracting, I think shapes and contrasts are better emphasized this way.
And finally our last (but far from least) stop of the day : Ta Prohm. This temple is one of the most famous in Angkor, because it has been used for movie sets. The temple as been practically let in the same condition in which it was found : its ruins are invaded by trees and root, and the temple is bordered by thick jungle. Due to instability you can’t climb anywhere, plus consolidation and restoration works are often in progress. I would have loved it to be a bit more authentic, but hey… safety first !
This concludes our long day in Angkor. Every little aspect of this 9 hours long visit was worth it. The sunrise was amazing, we had some interesting conversations with Daral, saw some of the most impressive temples in the world, and had a lot of fun altogether !
I hope everyone who reads this have had or will have the chance to experience the same thing 🙂