We’ve taken more than a few tours during this trip. But you know that; you’ve been reading all of these posts. Each place had a guide:
Bangkok – Moo
Chiang Mai – June
Luang Prabang – Oudune
Hanoi – Sunny
Ginger – Minh (Minny Minn)
Saigon- Thuy, Henry
Jahan – Tri
Phnom Penh – (we don’t remember, and don’t want to)
Siem Reap – Sunny; The Professor (at Angkor Wat)
But today was the final tour. Sunny, our guide here in Siem Reap, picked us up to go see the “other” temples here. While Angkor Wat is massive almost beyond comprehension, and also in pretty good shape for an 800 year old structure in this climate, the other sites are all ruins.
I mentioned that Angkor Wat was less crowded than we expected, perhaps just because of its scale. But the sites today were more crowded. There were allegedly more than 1,000 temples in the Siem Reap area. Most of them were abandoned over the centuries. We went to visit a few of the more interesting ones (1).
And as always, there were monks. And tour groups.
The architects were pretty amazing. They would design these structures with repeating elements – figures, towers, columns – that visually line up. This helps to create the beauty that must have once been here.
One of the ruins, Ta Prohm (the so-called Banyan Temple), was used in a scene in Lara Croft: Tomb Raider. There’s a scene where she stands by a particular root system, and there were hordes of women lining up (2) to have their picture taken where Angelina Jolie stood.
After we finished the temples, we asked Sunny to drive us through Siem Reap proper. We have a walking tour of the city scheduled on Saturday, but weren’t sure if it was worthwhile. So we drove around for about 15 minutes and decided we would cancel the tour. The rest of the day was in the pool, lounging in the shade, eating a couple of meals and watching another sunset from the bar.
(1) According to Sunny.
(2) It wasn’t really a line, more of a mob crush. Sort of like getting on the subway at rush hour. We didn’t even think about getting a picture.