22 October 2008

More temples

Right after Bayon, our driver Borat (another name we made up for none of us could decipher the actual pronunciation of his name) took us through the east gate of Angkor Thom and then left us to take the path on foot to Ta Phrom.
Our only knowledge of Ta Phrom sums up to Massive Trees and the Tomb Raider set. Honestly, i dont know what to expect, but at the same time my hopes of being swept off my feet was backed by Jasmain's verbal expressions of its awesomeness. Yes, i was amazed, but not by the temple, but by the power and force of the jungle. Ta Phrom is very much in the process of being engulfed by nature. The poem that attaches itself to this ruin is "with humans first conquering nature to rapidly create, and nature once again conquering humans to slowly destroy."
.This temple was built from 1186 and was a Buddhist temple dedicated to Jayavarman VII's mother.

It was quite annoying that many a path were closed off due to restoration works, and some corridors were clogged with piles of stone blocks crumbled by roots of giant trees. However, the aftermath beauty of this strangulation process has ironically created an atmospheric affair. Where walls are displaced, the tree roots form an archway, where buildings are tilting on the verge of collapse, the strangler vines are holding them together.

Most of the walls of this temple and stones are heavily carpeted in lichen and moss, so becareful if you're thinking of attempting any kind of stunts.

. (Above) That famous Tomb Raider tree.

.(L): Crocodile Dundee wannabes.

Overall, it was good that we came, we saw the temple, we saw the tree and that was that. Although amazing for withstanding the enormity and weight of merciless trees seeking to retrieve its territory, it did not cast any long lasting effect on me.
On the way out, Tim Chin was approached by a little boy who wanted to sell him a "Gu-Zheng", a traditional Chinese stringed instrument. We egged him on because he has been crazy over these instruments every where we go. The starting price was an outrageous "twenty-fai dollaaa" USD. While he was haggling, a soft little voice was following Uncle Teo. Whilst flipping her postcards, she counted "ee, er, sa, si, wu, liu" (numbers in Mandarin), "mai-la.. ni mai la, ee kwai" (buy, will you buy, one dollar). This girl, barely 7 i think, has the most pitiful, hair-raising voice. When we bought 2 and was about to close the doors of our van, she tiptoed outside the window, handing Timmy a wristband and me a postcard.. "For you" she said. We learned that the Gu-Zheng went down to $4 dollaaa, crazy huh! He regrets not buying it now.

Bakheng Mountain

After filling our stomach and a short rest back at our hotel, we returned to catch sunset at the Bakheng Mountain. And guess what!??! Look at me shoes... First the back, now the front. Huuhuu.On arrival, we saw elephants! For $10 USD, you can let an elephant take you up the mountain to Phnom Bakheng. We wanted to! but the queue was just too long, so trekked we did. The climb up was rather steep, pretty much like climbing Shahbandar. I couldnt believe my stamina, i broke out in heavy sweat and was huffing for dear life a few minutes into the hike. Boon's dad, in total opposite, was calm and collected. I should be so ashamed. The picture below is a corroded stairway leading up to the mountains, almost entirely covered with grass and creeping plants. It was cordoned off for the obvious risk. And ofcourse it is not purplish in colour, but a splash of my imagination. =)20mins later, we reached the summit of the mountain. The temple was shaped like a pyramid, mounted in terraces. The steps leading to the top was crazily narrow and steep. So narrow that it fits only half the size of my feet. See how the guy below is using his hands to aid his climb, and the dude above him has one baby in hand. My heart pounded so bad just watching him descend. A couple of us tried climbing up sideways, holding on to the side walls and realised it proved too steep and dangerous for Uncle Teo. Boon decided against letting his dad up so he waited for us on ground. It was pretty crowded by the time we arrived and we thought we were early! It seems like every tourist in Siem Reap watches sunset here. Most people have marked their spots with a tripod and picked out the best seat. This really is a popular destination for sunset undoubtedly because of its enviable position with 360 degrees view of the landscape. It's breathtaking and a good place to sit and reflect.

.Built on the hill where the 1st city of Angkor was established, this is a Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. Work started at the end of the 9th century.

Chee Ting and Eric went about taking photos, and us too, except I was taking shots for a vain poser... "here here", "ooh, here nice too", waitaminute i meant to say natural poser ;)
When the rays of sunset began breaking through, it was disappointing to see lots of clouds. Ugh...We also did not stay for the entire length of sunset 'cos we have one elderly waiting for us =P

As we descend, my legs caved to a trembling mess. It's a scary feat and one wrong step can send you free falling. I'm only a size 5, what about people who are size 8, size 11? I read that in the olden days, Angkor people do not climb the stairs with their whole foot and instead they tiptoed barefooted. They must have some kind of elixir for lactic acid. Here's one horrendous picture of me drenched in cold sweat and breathing relief when i reach the bottom.

.Dont ever wear skirts to temples, I almost tripped and cracked my head several times.

As it turns out, when we heading downhill close to 6pm, the real crowd has only begun their trip. We passed hundreds and hundreds of people, most of which were the Japanese and Chinese . What was funny was a group of Chinese screaming "It's getting late" and made a turn up the restricted stairways. Running, in fact! And what does the sign say? Trumping that was a lady in a black dress supported by a pair of black stilettos running along. Stilettos!
Did you happen to realise someone was missing in our Phnom Bakheng photos? Mr.TimChin! He surrendered and went on his Siem Reap massage parlours expedition.

Achievements for the day: 13km or kilomeet (in Cambodian slang)

One full day of temple visit really knocked us out, so we decided to take a break and tour Siem Reap town the next day.


Anonymous said...

mmm.. i don't remember seeing ta phrom in green... is it a wet season now? tat's why the whole thing is full of Algae?

Lee on October 22, 2008 at 6:56 PM said...

SJ, I think it being the wet season has to be the only explanation. It is literally green to the eye.

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