Pop Quiz: You're at a historic place with a new camera . You want to keep shooting at the bas relief till your thumb goes numb but your friends keep bugging you to take a picture of them. What should you do in such a situation?
Read on to find out the answer.
There are so many temples and they are so huge that you will never find them too crowded.
Most of the time, you will find yourself alone in the temple, and that makes an ideal place to sit and read a bit, update your diary, or just rest, as they are cool inside and shady.
The Baphuon is located within the walls of Angkor Thom. It was under repair when I visited in March 2002 so I couldn't go inside. There were stones with serial numbers on them stacked all over the place so apparantly they were going to put them all back together eventually.
The walk way that leads up to the main Temple is very interesting as it's about 200 meters long and elevated. I'm guessing that the area along the walkway must flood during the rainy season.
The East Gate is found on the eastern wall of Angkor Thom. It didn't seem like as many of the tourists made the effort to see this one. So if you want some quiet moments to stop and stare and admire the 20 meter high gate and pretend you're in another time this one is a good one to do it at!!
Like you may have already read in the other tip. The East Gate is a great place to get away from the crowds! I didn't see any one else there on my rides through the area. I also didn't venture off the beaten trails because of the threat of landmines. I'm real sure how serious to take the warnings but I followed the rules! I figured it's better to be safe than sorry!
If you want to see local life inside Angkor Thom walk out the road towards the Western Gate from the Bayon. There are many homes in the forest. From what I saw the people seemed to be stick gatherers and sold them in Siem Reap. The people seemed quite friendly to us as we walked along. If you plan on walking very far out there you better bring some water as there aren't any roadside places to buy water!
This is one of the remaining sandstone pools that is near the remains of the Royal Palace of Phimeanakas. It is sort of off the beaten path as I didn't see any hoards of tourists snooping in the area. In this area you will be hounded by the postcard selling children at least we were!! LOL Probably because the kids spotted us and we were the only foreigners there.
The Phimianakas Temple is quite cool looking as it's 3 levels with the lion carvings that are on each level. The top spire was said to have been covered in Gold at one time but that appears to be long gone!! From Phimeanakas there is a nice trail through the forest that passes through an ancient gate just past the pool. If you keep along the trail you will come to Preah Palilay which is a small Temple with a tree growing from the top of it!!
If you follow the path after visiting Phimeanakas you will come along this gate. It sure gives you a feel of being in the area hundreds of years ago. Although the old wall and gate are in pretty rough shape now. The path isn't anything special so if you have a hard time walking you will have to pay attention as the trail is uneven in places.
This is a shot of Temple U of the Preah Pithu Group. This is a great area to wander as it is wooded like some of the Phimeanakas area. And only a short walk across the road from there. The Temples in the Preah Pithu Group are tagged T,U,V,X, and Y. To tell you the truth I don't know the symbolism of that but there are 5 bigger (although they aren't that big) Temples in the group and well worth spending a little time to check them out. And they are well shaded from the huge trees!!
As with alot of the Temples and groups of Temples in the Angkor Area you can find some fine examples of the style of carving that was used in making the temple. As most of them were designed and built by different Kings and different religions so the styles do vary somewhat. In this photo here you can see the style used. The Preah Pithu group of 5 Temples is a mix of Hindu and Buddhism. They were built in the 12th Century.
You may enjoy he 5 Temples of Preah Pithu as they are interesting 12 Century Buddhist and Hindu Temples and you probably won't have to deal with other people!! The only other person we saw while visiting was a little kid that was quite shy and was hiding from us. These Temples were unrestored as far as I could tell but I'm sure that in time the restorers will be rebuilding these too.
Another of the cool Preah Pithu Group Temples. This one is Temple X. You can see that there is an old Buddha with it's head lopped off near original walkway leading up to the Temple. Listen to the high pitched sounds of the bugs in the area!! It was so loud when we were there!!
On the back side of the Preah Pithu Group at the Temple furthest into the forest you will see two stone elephants. They appear to be part of a walkway that isn't there anymore. And to see the walkway today the forest would have to be cleared! So at one time the entrance must've been on that side.
The Doorways of this section were quite interesting as there were Buddhas carved over the doorway. We had fun just exploring the area and wandering through the doorways. If you want to spend anytime in the Preah Pithu Group you better pack some water! Even in the shaded areas it was still very hot. I brought 3 bottles with me and by the time we got to the 3rd one it was Hot Water!! If you're interested in learning some of the history of these smaller temples it is very easy to find a young local that is more than happy to "Guide" you for a couple of $$.