I’ve uploaded my photos from the temples of Angkor near Siem Reap, Cambodia.

We spent a very full day visiting the temples. We got up at 4:30 and got on our tuktuk for a ride through complete darkness to the ticketing station. Then, up to Sras Srang, a small reservoir, for sunrise.

After that, we saw the nearby temples of Banteay Kdei and Ta Prohm. These are largely unrestored, and Ta Prohm has a few large trees growing out of the stonework!

Then we stopped at Ta Keo. I started wishing I had a rope and some gear – this temple in particular would be great for free climbing! Sadly, I had no rope and that’s probably illegal anyway so I settled for taking the hard but not too dangerous way down some metre-high blocks.

We also stopped at Thommanom and Chau Say Thevoda on the way to to the Angkor Thom complex. The main draw at Angkor Thom is Bayon, a large temple with over 100 huge stone faces. It’s quite the sight. The face was allegedly of the god worshipped by the locals, but historians believe it strongly resembles the king.. a great way to cement your power, I suppose.

Also at Angkor Thom: Terrace of the Elephants, which is a long wall covered in – well, guess. Baphuon was closed for restoration and not too interesting from the outside, but there were some neat posters explaining the problems with the original construction and how they were fixing them.

After Angkor Thom, we still had a good bit of daylight left so we convinced our driver to take us all the way up to Ta Som, a temple at the north west corner of the main group with another tree! This one was growing out of the rear gate without blocking it, pretty cool :)

Then finally: Angkor Wat. It was anticlimactic after everything else we’d seen. There’s scaffolding and construction netting everywhere due to ongoing restoration, and of course it’s full of people. I got one good photo though, from the north side where few tourists venture. The temple is rotationally symmetric so the front looks the same, or will once they’ve completed their work…

All told, a long day and a great one! I’m not a big fan of the restoration work though – it’s all a bit artificial, not to mention expensive. I found the temples that were mostly unrestored to be more interesting – natural decay, and nature reclaiming her own.

Photos are here.

Robin and I visited the temples on April 5, 2010.