Monday, July 18, 2011

Siem Reap Report - My Favourite Temples

I had the good fortune to visit Siem Reap last month. In an earlier entry, I shared with you the wonderful Amansara Hotel that was "home" for the 5 days I was there. For today, I decided to share with you the amazing temples that I love about Siem Reap. I reminisce about my Siem Reap adventures on a daily basis, reminded by the wallpaper image on my laptop.

This is a picture I took at the Bayon. It gives me a sense of serenity every time I look at it and that is why I chose it as my wallpaper on my laptop.

There are many temples in Siem Reap but let me show you my favourites. Perhaps it will inspire you to visit if you haven't been, or remind you to visit again.

#1 Favourite - Bayon Temple

The amazing Bayon Temple, located in the geographical heart of Angkor Thom. The 54-tower temple is a quite remarkable sight. From far, the temple seems to be a shapeless mass of grey and brown stone...

However, as one approaches, one realizes that each of the towers is in fact carvings of Buddha faces. There are 216 huge enigmatic faces bearing down on you wherever you turn. I was in awe and felt really privileged to be standing there.

Most people will choose Angkor Wat as their favourite. I personally prefer The Bayon over Angkor Wat for its unique design concept.

This is my favourite photo from all the shots I took in Siem Reap. It captured the perfect moment of a monk in bright orange robe against the grey background of the Bayon.

#2 Favourite - Angkor Wat

The magnificent Angkor Wat at dawn. The trick is to enter via the East gate instead of the popular West gate, and you will have the temple all to yourself (almost). It only gets better. Even I can't believe how good the photos turned out despite using just my humble Blackberry camera.

The early bird being rewarded with magnificent sunrise. I woke up at 4am so I could be on site at 5am, to be in time to see the golden glow of the sun falling on Angkor Wat temple.

Speechless by the beauty I witnessed. Even Angelina Jolie was captivated.

This is the location that was used to film Tomb Raider. In the movie, they created a floating village on the lake, which is non-existent in reality.

#3 Favourite - Ta Phrom (Jungle Temple)

Ta Prohm, also known as the "jungle temple". You will remember this in the scene where Lara Croft (played by Angelina Jolie) first stepped foot in a temple in Siem Reap. Originally known as Rajavihara (Monastery of the King), Ta Prohm was a Buddhist temple dedicated to the mother of King Jayavarman VII.

Real tomb raiders visited Ta Prohm in the past to steal precious gem stones that the King left behind as an offering to his late mother.

This is the famous "Tomb Raider" tree, immortalised by the film. The massive trees weakened the temple structures with their strong roots. Nature triumphs over humanity. The roots cleave massive stones in two and spill over the top of temple ramparts. The effect is striking, especially the strangulating root formation.

We stood where Angelina stood...

The famous tree... that kinda looks like a butt naked man! Or at least what my tour guide said. :)

If you are looking for a short holiday, why not consider visiting Siem Reap? The temples will leave an indelible mark on your memory, just like they did with mine. It was truly the most unforgettable experience to stand on the temple grounds. I left humbled and in awe.

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