03.09.2013 - 03.09.2013 38 °C
After our day of rest , yesterday we woke up fresh and planned another day at the temples. Our one main goal was to see the sunset over the temples, and after the difficulty of the first day, we decided not to cycle through the midday heat. With a couple of hours to pass until it started to cool, we had a slow brunch and then went to a café for a rare treat of cake and a coffee. The café is called the Blue Pumpkin, and it is without a doubt the best cake we have had since leaving the UK.
By this time it was approaching 2 o clock and we set off on our bikes, leaving at this time gave us 4 hours until sunset to see some more temples and we avoided the worst of the heat. Cycling there was a lot easier, even though today we cycled a lot further, we have done around 30km in total.
Our route we planned took us around the other side of Angkor Wat to the previous day, taking us past some smaller temples and then entering Ankgor Thom from the opposite side so we could continue where we left off. Our first stop of the day was a temple called Banteay Kdei.
It is significantly smaller than Angkor Wat and the temples with Angkor Thom but it was very interesting. Most of the temple is ruins, and you navigate narrow corridors defined by old columns covered in engravings. The deeper you go into the temple the more dilapidated it is until you practically are walking over crumbed walls.
Next on our list was Ta Prohm, a temple Chelsea in particular has been looking forward to. Pulling up to the temple entrance after another short cycle was a shock. There were dozens of vendors yelling at us from all directions 'you want cold water sir', and we were ambushed by kids selling books and bracelets. We kept our heads down, repeated no thank you, quickly chained our bikes up and jumped into the sanctuary of the temple grounds. Ta Prohm is again a temple mostly in ruins, the attraction of this temple are the trees, huge trees that have been growing for hundreds of years and have slowly swallowed up the temple.
The trees grow through walls, across doorways over alters and huge tree routes climb down the walls to reach the earth. It is hard to do justice to the sheer scale of it.
It is a vast complex with no clear defined route so we wandered rather aimlessly round, every turn we came across more of these epic trees. We were inside for almost an hour, and it has been our favourite temple of the whole site. Angkor Wat is obviously special but we expected it to be special having read so much about it, the sights and scale Ta Prohm were an incredible surprise to us.
Our final stop before the sunset was returning to the ancient city of Angkor Thom, another few km cycle brought us in from a different entrance to our first visit and we carried on from where we left off. We viewed the Terrace of the Elephants, a very long narrow stone terrace engraved with dozens of elephants, and a battle scene. After we viewed the Terrace of the Leaper King next door, so called because of an apparent statue that sits on top that has the appearance of leprosy. We could not find it. We did however see vast walls with ornate engravings of demons, and other mythological creatures.
By this point it was approaching 5pm and we still had to cycle back to Angkor Wat for sunset. We decided to be in the grounds of Angkor Wat and although the sun does not set behind the temple, it does set behind the large gate entrance, We sat in the grounds for about an hour, resting our aching legs, watching the sun set and the sky change over Angkor Wat itself.
The ride back to Siem Reap was in the dark, which was a little more harrowing but we made it safe and sound. When we did get back, we found our hotel with no power, so had to get showered and changed out of our very sweaty clothes by candlelight. We were soon out again, having not eaten from lunch and settled for 'Pub Street' a street of bars, restaurants, and thousands of Tuk Tuk drivers. We had a great night to end a great day and woke up this morning with slightly foggy head.
We have decided not to use our free day of entry into Angkor, we have seen everything we set out to, and we are keen not be templed out. We are very happy to have finally seen it, and it is the perfect final attraction for us of South East Asia. Tomorrow we have booked a bus to Bangkok and have a couple of nights there to prepare for Sri Lanka.