The "Grand Loop" of Angkor


minor Angkor ruins
We had arranged to meet up with the same driver the next day. We planned to see some of the other remoter temples, or do - as our driver called it - the great loop.

First Stop: Minor Temples
We headed out at around 7AM and just trusted our driver. We passed the crowds at Angkor Wat and continues onto a road with less traffic until we arrived at a "clearing" where there were 2 temples: one on either side of the road. I didn't catch the name of either temple but they must've been pretty minor because 1) there was no-one else there, and 2) we weren't asked to show our passes.
We ventured into the first one, climbed up and down stairs, meandered through doors, down open galleries until suddenly, popping out of a door at the top of some stairs, an old lady in traditional clothes grabbed our wrists and led us down the stairs and then up other stairs to a place where some incense was burning and tied bright red bracelets onto our wrists while chanting something. Then she tapped a small metal dish which held a single two-dollar bill. We obliged and dropped in another 2 dollar bills and as we walked out my boyfriend commented on the rarity of two-dollar bills and whether she actually realized just what she was in possession of. From there, we went across the street to the other temple. This one was a little smaller but still very beautiful, we were alone - apart from the 2 locals who approached us to tell us about the history and offered to take our pictures. We politely ignored them and wandered off.

Next Stops: Ta Kev, Ta Prohm, Banteay Kdei and Srah Srang
We got back into our tuk tuk and went onto Ta Kev, Ta Prohm and Banteay Kdei. They've all kind of mingled and merged into one huge temple in my memory. I do remember escalading up the side of one temple (oh the fear!) only to realize, once we'd reached the fence at the top, that we'd gone the wrong way (oops!). In another temple, they had pictures of the temple before and after restoration. The work being done is amazing. In some cases, it went from being a pile of rubble to being a gallery again. And in the open spaces around the temple, you could see recovered stones which were laid out and individually numbered as far as the eye could see.
Angkor Temple steep stairs

It was perhaps also at this temple that we finally gave into the little girl who asked us to buy a flute and bought one of her bracelets instead. I can't say we had been asked to buy much at all. Nothing at Angkor Wat, and just at the exit of Angkor Thom - and even then it wasn't an insistent sales pitch. This girl was extremely cute and extremely small and - she was alone - so nobody else rushed up to us to sell us things. One of the other temples was where they filmed Tomb Raider (as we found out from another group's guide). I do believe it was Ta Prohm. When people think of Angkor, they usually imagine ruins overgrown with trees. This is the place you're thinking of.

Angkor's overgrown temples

After this set of temples, we arrived at Srah Srang - a huge water basin. By this time, it had already gotten pretty hot so being near the water felt amazingly refreshing. I do believe it was a key factor in our decision to head back to the hotel. We were totally templed out...!

Water Bassin at Angkor

Angkor Wat at sunset

Sokha Angkor Resort and Spa panoramic

We headed back to the hotel, had lunch and napped by the pool then took off again at 4PM. We decided to go back to Angkor Wat and see it during the sunset. It's just as gorgeous at sunset as it is at sunrise. It wasn't as crowded in the morning and we wandered around the outer edge of the temple, away from the main flow of people. The central temple seemed to be closed off when we went there the day before, however we saw people up there this time. So we got closer. A security guard was standing around charging people $5 to go up even though there was a barrier blocking access to the stairs. It all seemed pretty sketchy, so we decided to walk on.
Angkor Wat in the afternoon
close up at angkor wat at sunset

That evening, we headed down to the Pub Street area again to eat. We went to the Old House and had amazing fish amok and Khmer sweet and sour soup. Only in the evenings did the mosquitoes come out for a nibble.

Check out more pictures here and here and the Angkor packing guide


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