Monday, January 5, 2009

Angkor sunrise and farewell to Cambodia

It's our last day in Cambodia, and we fly out to Bangkok and then on to home a bit later today. It's been a good time in Siem Reap, despite Dan's tummy ailment and my cold, which started yesterday but is already mostly better.

I went out on my own on Sunday for a modest temple frenzy, traveling by tuk tuk, a moto pulling a two-seater carriage. I poked around at the Angkor Thom complex, spending a lot of time at Bayon then strolling around the other temples and structures in the area. After returning to Siem Reap to get Dan some lunch (poor thing hadn't left the room at all), I headed out to Angkor Wat for the late afternoon and sunset.

On Monday, Dan and I rented local bikes and did the minor circuit--a 16k loop comprising Angkor Wat, Ta Prohm, Bayon and other temples. We did not get out to Bateay Srei (30k out), unfortunately, due to timing issues. Too bad!

The bikes were sturdy machines, single gear with fat tires and comfie seats. They did surprisingly well on the terrain, which included segments of unpaved road under repair as well as serious potholes and some off-roading when oncoming traffic swerved perilously close. We were waved through a road construction area near Angkor wat, and rode through piles of red dirt, gravel, sand, and partly groomed road, passing heavy construction equipment at close proximity.

It's been pretty amazing to walk all over the ruins. More detail on this later (need to pick up some gifts before I leave), but here are a couple of photos in the meantime.

A few of the many faces at Bayon, in the morning. I spent quite a lot of time here, looking at the faces from different angles and viewing the bas reliefs that cover the rear walls.

Self-portrait at Angkor wat. Dan finds these pictures silly, but I find them quite amusing!

Rental bike on the road to Angkor wat. Dan's bike looked nice, but was in serious need of a hub and/or chain overhaul. It's probably the only time that I've easily dropped Dan when we ride together.

Gate at Banteay Kdei. This temple was largely crumbling, and it was neat to explore the ruins and look at the trees and stuff growing all around the temple. It's just down the road from Ta Prohm, one of the heavy hitters, and had only a few other tourists in the ruins (in contrast to Ta Prohm which was mobbed). I enjoyed the solitude, though Dan made me a bit nervous when he was squeezing in and out of the ruins.

Big tree and Banteay Kdai. Ta Prohm also had many many spectacular trees growing in and around the ruins, but the pictures are mostly sideways and I can't figure out how to turn them!

Angkor wat sunrise. One of about 120 photos taken at the same angle at different shades of dawn. We got there at 5:30 am, and it was still dark. Luckily, Dan had his flashlight so we could navigate the bumpy pavement, steps and avoid falling into the moat! One guy was not so lucky and fell into the lotus pond! After sunrise, we looked around Angkor one last time, then returned to town to shop (me), get massaged (Dan), and pack up to depart. I am sorry to leave, but am looking forward to getting home to the kittens.

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