Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Day 2 Angkor Park - Afternoon: Exploring Preah Khan, Neak Pean, Ta Prohm and Phnom Bakheng

22nd October 2015

Our immediate destination for the afternoon was Preah Khan. I had read that this was a beautiful temple and there were not many visitors there. We were dropped off outside the West Gate and our driver told us he would pick us up at the East Gate. We only need to walk in a straight path.

Preah Khan is not a tall temple, but a long one. There was not much restoration work done and that was what I liked about it.

After Preah Khan, we were supposed to go to Ta Prohm. However, our driver offered to take us to Neak Pean , which was on the same route to Ta Prohm. We obviously had too much time to spare. Neak Pean was not in my itinerary as there were no great reviews of this site. However, the Baray (lake) at Neak Pean was really beautiful. The trees in the shallow Baray were really something to see. I was glad we came. If this has been the dry season, the Baray may have just been a dry lake.

From Neak Pean, we finally went to Ta Prohm, the highlight of my visit today. Yes, this was the site made famous by the movie Tomb Raiders, with the giant fig trees 'strangling' the temple. However, it was somewhat disappointing because the crane and other modern structure were spoiling the view. Visitors were also not able to explore the site freely, with many areas being off-limits and having to walk on elevated plank-walk. We also did not see the 'empty doorway', as we walked circling the temple instead of walking through it. The feeling of a mysterious ancient world was not there.

It was only at 15:36 pm when we ended the visit to Ta Prohm. Our next stop would be Phnom Bakheng for the sunset view. This temple has been so well publicised for its sunset view that both of us felt so silly arriving so early, and having to stay under the hot sun, just to watch the sun set. It was not like we have not seen a sunset before! We decided not to prolong our foolishness by leaving before the sun fully set and were amazed of the long queue at ground level. We were not the only idiots around!

That explained the small crowd at the top level of Phnom Bakheng as most of the idiots were still queuing and waiting for their turns to ascend the temple. The number of idiots allowed to enter was limited by the number of passes given out and since all the passes had been distributed, these idiots have to wait for idiots like us to leave before they were able to get the passes. The sun was already setting and almost all of them with the passes were still up there and hence, most of those in the queue would have no chance to enter.

On the way back to our hostel, I asked our driver the expected time our visit would end the next day. He said 4 o'clock. With this important info, I asked him to drive us to Angkor Wat the next day after Beng Mealea as we wanted to take some photos of Angkor Wat again, this time with the setting sun behind us. The glare from the morning sun made it impossible to take good photos of Angkor Wat this morning.

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