Ta Prohm

Ta Prohm was something that stood out when I flipped through my free copy of Siem Reap Angkor Visitor’s Guide from the airport; we had planned to spend the whole day at Angkor, and I was a little uneasy at having only two sites that I wanted to go to. Ta Prohm, a temple overrun by enormous trees, was the very portrayal of the transience of power, and immediately became third on my list of must-see during our trip. (First was the Angkor Wat & Bayon, duh!)

Ta Prohm, Cambodia.The degradation of these structures under the toil of time and unbending nature of well, Nature, is astounding.

Apsaras at Ta Prohm, Cambodia.

Bas-relief of an Apsara at Ta Prohm, Cambodia.Bas-reliefs among tree roots and ruins.

Mr. Meng playing the erhu at Ta Prohm, Cambodia.Mr. Meng playing his erhu. We sometimes lost sight of him while exploring the ruins and all we had to do was to follow the music. :D

Ottie and Ren at a structure engulfed by a tree at Ta Prohm, Cambodia.Ottie and I underneath one of the iconic structures which was engulfed by a tree. The place was actually cordoned off, but we climbed over to take this photo anyway (with Mr. Meng’s encouragement).
Photo taken by Ross via Ottie’s phone.

Restoration project at Ta Prohm, Cambodia.An ongoing restoration project to stabilise part of the structure.

Black dog at Ta Prohm, Cambodia.Black doggy! It’s so hard to photograph one.

Woman selling woven jewelry at Ta Prohm, Cambodia.Woman selling woven bangles.

Kid selling souvenirs at Ta Prohm, Cambodia.A bored child tending to a souvenir stall among the ruins.

Ottie standing on top of the ruins at Ta Prohm, Cambodia.Ottie standing on top of the ruins. We saw quite a number of people climb over rocks, possibly as a nod to the Tomb Raider movie that Ta Prohm featured in, but mostly because those jagged rocks and low arch ruins were just too tempting I think.

Ren at Ta Prohm on day 2, with Ant photobombing in the second picture.Ta Prohm was so beautiful that Ant, Dar, Chris, Ottie, and I went back again another day just to revisit the site. Note that my outfit remains virtually unchanged, but personal qualms on hygiene have to be compromised when one goes on an eight day trip with as many clothes as can be crammed into a laptop haversack, after half of that space is taken up by a dSLR.

Also note Ottie’s flair for only managing to take a photo of me in focus only when I’m being derpy (while Ant photobombs). WHY.
Photos taken by Ottie.

Outfit at Angkor and Ta Prohm. OOTD - K Petit dress, Hue argyle socks, Rubi shoes, Moda at George cardigan.And here’s me in my main temple outfit to cap off my temple adventure! :D

 

OUTFIT
K Petit dress
Moda at George cardigan
Hue argyle socks
Rubi shoes

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Angkor Thom: Bayon & Baphuon

Angkor Thom was the next destination after our visit to Angkor Wat, lying just north of it. Angkor Thom is what I feel to be the next most famous site in the Angkor Region, consisting of quite a few temples within its moat. I’m ashamed to say that I don’t quite remember every temple that we visited, but here are two that were the most interesting to me.

Bayon

Bayon, with its propensity towards the weird and mysterious, was easily my favourite when I studied Asian Art History. Granted, I didn’t actually care about the subject (evident by my inability to deviate from the Bs that plagued my essays), but Bayon still managed to stick in my mind after so many years. It was so satisfying to finally stand among these larger-than-life stone faces, gazing upon their benign smiles at every corner.

Holding my Angkor World Heritage three day entry pass in front of Bayon in Angkor Thom, Cambodia.My three-day Angkor Pass against the entrance of Bayon.

Bayon in Angkor Thom, Cambodia.

Bayon in Angkor Thom, Cambodia.Look at how puny the humans are!

Ren coming nose-to-nose with a face at Bayon in Angkor Thom, Cambodia.Mr. Meng told me to stand there and took a photo of me being nose-to-nose with one of the faces. Do I bear a resemblance to the late King Jayavarman VII? XD

Ottie coming nose-to-nose with one of the faces at Bayon in Angkor Thom, Cambodia.I took one for Ottie the hat guy. :P

Smiling face in Bayon in Angkor Thom, Cambodia.One of the few expressively happy faces.

Ren standing among ruins at Bayon in Angkor Thom, Cambodia.Standing on the ruins of Bayon. It is rare that Ottie takes a photo of me in which I am in focus. This is not one of those times.
Photo taken by Ottie.

 

Baphuon

Frankly I had no idea what to expect at Baphuon, having had no recollection of studying it in Asian Art History. However, the structure was impressive in its own right, and a pretty exciting hike up and down the temple-mountain. Viewing the lush green surroundings among ruins after climbing the steep incline was pretty rewarding.

Path leading to the main building of Baphuon in Angkor Thom, Cambodia.

Sign written in Mandarin into the top of the low opening to be mind your head.Someone had written ‘小心头’ (‘mind your head’ in Mandarin) above the low doorway to the open-air walkway on the second tier of the temple. Unfortunately, Ottie knew not a lick of Mandarin and suffered a bruising after he very loudly and painfully did not mind his head. It was funny and I’m not a good girlfriend.

Open walkway at Baphuon in Angkor Thom, Cambodia.

Ottie among the ruins of Baphuon in Angkor Thom, Cambodia.

Reclining Buddha on the side of Baphuon in Angkor Thom, Cambodia.A reclining Buddha makes up the west side of the temple! So impressive- none of us even knew what to look for until Mr. Meng pointed us to the shape. It was apparently added in the 16th century to the 11th century temple.

Two monks walking along Baphuon in Angkor Thom, Cambodia.My favourite photo of the day: Two monks walking along Baphuon.

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Angkor Wat

We woke up at 4.30am to catch the sunrise at Angkor Wat one morning. Groggy and slightly disoriented, we were introduced to the minivan driver and Mr. Meng, our tour guide, who good-naturedly attempted to engage us on the site’s historical significance in a thick accent, which considering the time of the day, rendered as a whole different language altogether. Pity. After a stop at the ticketing booth to get our photos taken for our entry pass, we proceeded to join the trickle of lights emanating from torchlights and phones, as like-minded tourists trekked towards the lotus pond, the spot from where we would experience the iconic moment at Angkor Wat.

Silhouette across the lotus pond at Angkor Wat at dawn, Cambodia.

Unfortunately, that day was not the day. I did however manage to plant my tripod at the edge of the pond (after a couple in front of me vacated; lucky!), and spent the next hour or so steadfastly making long exposure shots of the beautiful Angkor Wat silhouette in twilight. 6.30am eventually came and went, leaving behind disappointed tourists and still no sign of a fiery red ball of gas. I actually wanted to wait another hour more, hoping to sight the sun at a higher angle when it’d get less cloudy, but the rest of the group was ready to move on and, with the exception of Ottie, I wasn’t on familiar enough terms with them to selfishly impose on them like I did on my trip to Japan. XD

Presenting to you,  Eight Views of Angkor Wat:

Silhouette of Angkor Wat at dawn, Cambodia.Angkor Wat in the Darkness of Dawn

Silhouette of Angkor Wat at dawn, Cambodia.Twilight at the Lotus Pond

Sunrise through trees against the Angkor Wat, Cambodia.Sunlight Among Trees in the Morning Fog

Angkor Wat silhouette, Cambodia.Angkor Wat Framed in Sandstone

Grazing horse at Angkor Wat, Cambodia.Equus Grazing

Mirrored Angkor Wat, Cambodia.Mirrored Reflection of the Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat, Cambodia.View from the West Gate

Kids at Angkor Wat, Cambodia.Children Playing by the Moat

Believe me, I originally had way more than eight photos of the famous silhouette. In addition, the sights we saw while exploring the massive compound was so awe-inspiring; nothing could have prepared me for the sheer majesty of the temple, not even those torturous semesters of Asian Art History. It was just so beautiful. Here are some of the sights in and around the compound:

Lotus flower floating on the moat at Angkor Wat, Cambodia.Lotus flower floating on the 190 meter wide moat that surrounds Angkor Wat.

Kid cycling up a path on the west gate of the Angkor Wat, Cambodia.A child cycling up the path towards the west gate.

Morning sun against a bas-relief of an apsara at Angkor Wat, Cambodia.The morning sun shines on a damaged bas-relief of an Apsara.

Bas-reliefs of Apsaras at Angkor Wat, Cambodia.Bas-relief of Apsaras on the interior walls.

Statues inside Angkor Wat, Cambodia.Statues in the hallway.

Security guard eating fruits at Angkor Wat, Cambodia.Security guard eating fruits.

Ottie scaling a portion of Angkor Wat, Cambodia.Ottie in one of the smaller structures lining the main compound.

Ren sitting on a window at Angkor Wat, Cambodia.Me in my temple outfit, sitting in the window of the interior building. It is a sign of respect to cover your shoulders and knees when visiting the temples. Discouraging mosquitos may also have been a factor in being covered up despite the heat.
Photo taken by Ottie.

Group photo with Mr. Meng, our musical guide at Angkor Wat, Cambodia.Group photo! From left to right: Mr. Meng on his erhu, Ross, Chris, Dar, Ant, Ottie, and me.

Mr. Meng was one heck of a guide. We may have had a hard time understanding his English at first, but when he played his erhu, he spoke the universal language of music; it was so surreal. He even became part of the attraction for some tourists throughout our tour! This was the guy who took me by the arm to capture a picturesque view of one of the Angkor Wat silhouettes while the rest were still exploring one of the buildings… which was quite amusing after I got over my initial alarm. Not to mention that he brought us through shortcuts and may have lead us in trespassing into certain sites that were inaccessible to the public. I would have this unorthodox tour guide over any perfect English-speaking guide anytime.

Thank you Mr. Meng!

To hear Mr. Meng and his repertoire of musical talents, head over to my video compilation post for the video on Siem Reap!

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