Temple Hopping in Angkor Complex Literally Took Our Breath Away (Part 2)
This is the Part 2 of our temple hopping adventure and things are only getting exciting! With only a few more temples to go, we sure are getting closer to what we have come here for – the incredible structure of Angkot Wat!
The West Gate of Ta Prohm reminded me of my childhood’s favorite game show, Legends of the Hidden Temple. We had to walk in the middle of jungle for a couple of minutes before we had a glimpse of the temple. The astonishing single levelled temple was engulfed with centuries-old trees accented with huge rubble stones.
Lunch at Jungle Restaurant
Just outside the East Gate of Ta Prohm where we exited, there were a couple of restaurants to choose from. Dara suggested to try Jungle Restaurant as they serve affordable and good Khmer food. Upon checking at the menu (basically, the price), our eyes popped as we were hesitant to spend 8USD (at the minimum) for a meal.
We courteously left the restaurant but the waitress was too eager to please us and gave a reasonable discount. Since we were famished from all the temple hopping, we accepted the offer and eventually settled in!
We weren’t expecting good food as it was discounted but, we were amazed how big the serving was! (Had we known, we would’ve shared a meal to save some bucks. LOL!) The aroma of the soup was invigorating and after having my first sip, the appetency of a new strange Asian dish that I could not explain had finally been fulfilled. It was, after all, my first (and sadly last) legit Khmer dish that I had in my life.
Right after our sumptuous and much needed lunch, we headed straight to Banteay Kdei with bloated tummies. The gate of this temple was no different from Ta Prohm, only the land area was a reduced version of it. We had to walk in a path way surrounded by jungle to get to the temple similar to Ta Prohm, but shorter.
There were more tourist shops here compared to the path way of Ta Prohm that tempted Dianne to buy another elephant pants similar to what she was wearing. She initially wanted to buy a pair but the vendor was so persistent to the point that she initiated to accept even Philippine Peso. LOL! (Did I mention that the locals were good in guessing people’s nationality?) Dianne ended up buying 3 pairs, paid in dollars.
Upon reaching the temple, the place was almost deserted as perhaps most were still feasting in the middle of the day. Banteay Kdei is almost the complete opposite of Ta Prohm where the temple was almost free from rubble and the atmosphere was bright. We were marvelled with how intricate and detailed the walls were even though it was centuries old. It helped a lot that we almost had the place to ourselves.
Finally, we arrived at our last stop, the Mother of all the Angkor Temples. You cannot simply go to Siem Reap without visiting the heart-capturing Angkor Wat! The most well-known UNESCO World Heritage site in Angkor complex that made our benchmark when it comes to temple supremacy.
At the entrance, you will be greeted by tour guides who will offer their service for a reasonable price (if you have good negotiating skills like me. Lol!). They were quite persistently nice but we politely declined the offer and marched on to Angkor Wat.
We entered through the Sandstone Cause Way with exhilaration as we were a gate away in seeing Angkor Wat in its full glory. The main entrance building is already massive and has many intricate stone carvings around the walls. We were already thrilled with this, how much more if we were inside Angkor Wat?
With little knowledge how massive the temple ground was, we were astounded upon seeing a roughly 400-meter pathway leading to the Angkor Wat. We could already feel the thirst and exhaustion but we were unphased and couldn’t wait to see what we’ve come here for in Cambodia.
The capacious halls and intricate endless wall carvings inside the Outer Gallery of Angkor Wat Temple welcomed us with delight. I have never seen anything perfectly carved and polished bas-reliefs in my lifetime. Everything was new to us as if we have forgotten all the temples we have visited earlier this day.
The final stretch of the temple was the Bakan and Central Tower, the heart and highest point of the Angkor Wat. We were thrilled to find out what lies atop the Tower but unfortunately for Dianne, she was barred to climb the Tower due to the strict dress code policy. Tip: You have to wear a sleeved top; it doesn’t matter even if you have a sarong covering your shoulders, they still won’t let you in.
I climbed my way to the top struggling not to miss a step in a steep and cramped staircase. It was short of my high expectations when I reached and wander around the tower. The intricate wall carvings was nothing overwhelming comparing to the Outer Gallery.
But the real wonder that I saw was when I gazed through the window facing the main entrance of Angkor Wat; watching the people march to and from the Outer Gallery. I was like taken back to its golden era where how the Hindus would look at it. The foreground of the temple was nostalgic and I could just visualize how rich their tradition was.
With little time left and depleting energy, we had to bid adieu and cherish all the pleasurable wonders we have seen and experienced. Angkor Wat isn’t something you walk into and forget everything as soon as you walk out, it stays with you. Our Angkor Complex did not end in our final glance, all the temples we have stepped and climbed on will always be in one of our greatest travel experiences that will consistently be a pleasure to share to everyone.