Thursday, October 11, 2007

Majestic Angkor


Siam Reap is home to an ancient town made of about 30-40 temples. While most of the temples are amazing in stature and grand in their execution, it does get to you as after a while some of the temples get repetitive. While I've written about the Bayon, here’s my account of our visit to Angkor Wat the jewel of Cambodia.

Dreams are made hereWe ended up going to Angkor Wat three times. Early on the first day to catch the sunrise and then we were misled to believe people can’t go in so we left and got back there the next evening to discover heck you could go in but it was already closing time so we actually came back early the next day evening to finally climb the famous steep scary stairs of Angkor.

Sunrise at AngkorAngkor is majestic no matter what time of the day. Each different hour promises something different. In the morning watching the sun rise over the towers and capturing the reflection in the pond is an amazing opportunity. Stepping into the temples you are amazed once again with its size and how beautifully carved the temple is. Apsaras dot the walls of the temple. One thing I noticed was each one was carved differently and no two were the same.

Sleeping on the stairs?As we climbed more steps into the inner temple area, we had no idea what was waiting for us. We stood transfixed at the sight in front of us. There stood the 5 famed towers of Angkor majestically overlooking Siam reap above the steepest flight of stairs I had ever seen. The bravest of visitors were seen crawling up the stairs. And we had thought the steps we climbed to reach the top oh Phnom Bakheng were the steepest!

We just sat down at one of the pillars watching people climb up, slowly building our guts to crawl up the stairs. People were basically lying flat on the stairs and they had only the stairs to hold. Yikes! There were 2 guys trying to prove to the world how brave they were, actually he looked like a monkey climbing up the stairs and he was pretty fast too – show off! Angkor in my eyeThere was one photographer who was climbing the stairs while holding 2 slr cams. Man there was no way I could do that. My camera remained safely inside my bag throughout the climb. Oh yeah we did climb. No way were we coming all this way and chickening out! Plus heck I’m not scared of heights (well that’s what I thought all this while!)

We headed to one of the staircases and started climbing. Yikes each step was not only huge in height but as it got higher the steps width was getting smaller and steeper. I managed to climb most of the steps. Just as I reached the last 4 steps, this guy who was watching me climb from the platform above calls me out and says something (I can’t remember) and somehow I made the mistake of looking down. Holy sh*t one slip of the foot and I’ll fall some 90 steps down! I stood on the last 4 steps to the top panicking. It took all my energy and courage to get up that last 4 steps. I was shaking like a leaf by the time I reached the top.

Brave?If you’re planning on going there make sure you do not look down no matter who surprises you! Just tell your self you’ll be kicked if you ever tried to look down.

Oh the best hasn’t even been told. The temple above ground is a huge courtyard with some wonderful carvings. Met this cute little boy who happily and at times cautiously smiled into our cam. The view from above is amazing and the best part people look like ants. Now there is one easy way to get down. One of the steps had been altered to have less steep wooden stairs with side railings. However the queue was 3 lines long.

DistanceWe went off to another flight of stairs to asses the situation. AND we thought climbing up was hard. Standing at the platform near the stairs we couldn’t see the stairs – it just seemed like there was nothing below. My friend bless her for being so brave, crawled to the edge and finally confirmed hell yeah there was a stairs! That just got to us. We quietly sat down and contemplated our next move. Yes I know admit I have a fear of heights – there I’ve said it – you can laugh now! Seriously I never knew!

DawnWe sat and discussed that this should be on the next amazing race asia’s challenge. Heck if we could climb down we could do any of the other challenges but then the food grosses me out! Overhearing our conversation, two gentlemen joined us. A Singaporean residing in London and a Londoner residing in Malaysia. The first thing the Londoner asked us was you’re Malaysian aren’t you? We were like yeah – how did you know?

Amazing race? ;p

Angkor watWe sat there talking about the trip. He agreed no where else in Asia was like Malaysia. No one bugs you to buy stuff, you could walk around as if you were home, and most of all people were really friendly.

“That’s why I’ve been here for the last 5 years, Malaysia’s like home.”

Anyway after discussing how to get down the guys climbed down first and we decided oh yeah we were going down as well.

Oh dearThe trick is to sit on the stairs and take your time going down. But I warn you the first 10 steps are the steepest and smallest of the lot! You’ll be freaking your heart out climbing down. The nicest part was the Londoner actually waited and gave us encouragement as we frighteningly made our way down! Yeah he was one of the few sweet people we met on the trip!

Touching ground was the sweetest feeling ever. You could say we conquered our new found fears – but heck I’ve climbed the steepest stairs in the world! Yippieeeeeeeeee ;p

Angkor at NightRemembered I was telling you we were too late to go in on the 3rd evening well the visit wasn’t a waste. They were trying out a new attraction for the first time that night! Angkor with colourful lights. All the while I was wondering why I had brought along the tripod. It finally became useful! These should be one of the first few shots of Angkor with coloured lights. God it was awesome to just sit by the lake and enjoy the play of lights albeit getting bitten by mosquitos but it was worth it.

Angkor remains ever majestic.

Read the previous posts on Cambodia below
You want photo? 1 Usd!
Siam Reap
Travelling in Siam Reap
20th Century's Hell on Earth
Majestic Angkor
Temple circuit : Siam Reap


Art said...

All the photos and the description.. just amazing..

Orange Fronkey said...

Looks like you had an amazing experience that you'll NEVER forget.

I get heebie jeebies too with height.. I didn't realize it until my friend decided we go get pictures of purple star fishes adn she was hopping around giant rocks and boulders lining the ever raging angry ocean and asked me to follow her. For ever step I took I stood there contemplating where exactly my foot would go and how and what time.

Anyways... This gorgeous place is one of the places in my list to visit before I die =P.

Great pics :).

Aravind said...

Awesome pics!!!
lovved the silheuttes - especially the one with sun hiding behind the towers..

>>if we could climb down we could do any of the other challenges


visithra said...

Art : thanks dear

Orange : welcome to my blog – sorry I haven’t been replying to ur comments – ive just been really busy

Oh yes it was – the thing is I never realized height freaked me out till that day

Before you go do read my other posts on the place so ull be better prepared

Thanks ;)

Aravind : thanks dear – how have u been

That place is a heaven for lighting – just amazing

Lol yeah funny huh

Balajoe said...

Every picture is worth to be a wallpaper...I am lost for words! Simply superb!

Ariel said...

Awesome stuff, babe!

anjali said...

Seems like you had a great time in Angkor. *wink*

P/S You were late on the 2nd evening, dear, not the 3rd.

visithra said...

on an old comments answering spree ;p sorry for the late replies

thanks guys

anj : hehehe ;p