Destination Guides, Travel Information & Health Advice for Travellers 55+ in Asia
The almost obligatory sunrise photograph of Angkor Wat that most tourists try to snap when visiting the temples in the AngkorArchaeologicalPark near Siem Reap.The temple grounds may look quiet and deserted from this pic, but there were in fact about 200 tourists standing behind me! I had to get up at 4 am to ensure I was at the temple by 5 am in order to 'secure' a spot by the pond that was not obstructed by other tourists.
To give you an idea of the number of tourists at Angkor Wat in the peak season, this is a picture of the hordes of tourists scrambling over the temple ruins on the top of Phnom Bakheng (Bakheng Hill) to view the sunset. This was taken at the end of December, in the middle of peak tourist season. It is not so bad at other times of the year.
The view of the sunset from the top is Phnom Bakheng is fairly ordinary, so I am not sure why it is so popular with tourists.Perhaps it is because they come from countries where they don't see sunsets very often, so any sunset for them is a novelty.Better sunsets can be seen from many other spots around Siem Reap (see last pic in this album).
It is, however, worth climbing to the top of Phnom Bakheng in the afternoon to get this shot of Angkor Wat from a distance. You will need at least a 200mm lens for a digital camera or a 400mm lens for a film camera.
A young woman sweeps away dust at the entrance gate to Angkor Wat in the early morning. I know this is a sexist comment that will surely get me into trouble with some of my female friends, but Cambodia undoubtedly has some of the prettiest street sweepers I have seen anywhere in the world!
A bas relief at Angkor Wat depicting some of the celestial dancers known as 'apsara'.From what I saw in some of the bas relief scenes at Angkor Wat, it looked to me like the nightlife there back in the 12th century was quite lively.
Although the whole of the temple area is known as Angkor Wat, there are in fact dozens of temples apart from Angkor Wat which is the 'main' and best preserved temple.My favourite, however, is Ta Phrom which was a monastic complex built in the early 13th century. It was abandoned more than 400 years ago, and since then has been overtaken by the jungle.The vegetation has been only partially cleared and there are many massive fig trees growing in amongst the temple ruins.
The other almost obligatory picture at Angkor is the 'Tomb Raider' photo in the Ta Phrom temple. This is a popular spot for tourists to have their picture taken emerging this door, imagining themselves to be another Lara Croft or Angelina Jolie.
Ta Phrom is the one temple complex that is very much in its 'natural' state.For this reason I found it more interesting than some of the other temple complexes which had been partially restored.
An artist painting part of the Ta Phrom temple takes no notice of a tour group walking through.
Outside the Ta Phrom temple I came across this family signing Cambodian songs to solicit donations from passing tourists.The little boy on the right hand side was signing at the top of his voice, but looking decidedly bored in the process.
I feel sad when I see young kids like this having to sit in the hot sun all day, banging drums, clapping their hands and singing in order to earn enough money to survive.But I suppose it is better for them than begging like the street kids in Siem Reap and Phnom Penh.
The kids look sad too. You can see the sadness in the eyes of this little girl.
The impressive entrance to the large Angkor Thom temple complex which was a fortified city, built around the end of the 12th century. This complex is spread over about 10 sq kms and is surrounded by a moat and a 12 km long wall.
A couple of monks cast a glance at the The Bayon as they speed by on their motorbike. The Bayon is the main attraction inside Angkor Thom and is the second most visited temple complex after Angkor Wat itself.
A Buddhist woman offers incense sticks to passing tourists outside The Bayon.
A portrait shot of the same woman.
The Bayon is the temple complex with more than 200 smiling faces of Avalokiteshvara, the Buddha of Compassion.Although the faces are very large, from a distance they are difficult to see because the rocks are well weathered.
However, close-up, the carvings of Avalokiteshvara dominate almost every rock face of the towers on the third level of The Bayon.
In the forest around The Bayon, dozens of women are employed to sweep up leaves.I would imagine this is one of those jobs that is literally 'never-ending'.
There are some interesting carvings on the eastern walls of the Royal Enclosure in Angkor Thom.This is part of the Terrace of Elephants.
Not all the temples around Angkor Wat are swarming with tourists -- even at peak season.There are many small temples tucked away in the jungle where you can stroll around them and enjoy some peace and solitude.This one is Thomamanom, which is on the road between Angkor Thom and Ta Phrom.
Many visitors to Angkor Wat take the express ferries up the Tonle SapRiver from Phnom Penh and across the Tonle SapLake -- journey which takes about five hours. In the dry season the Tonle Sap River flows 'downstream' to join the Mekong at Phnom Penh, but in the wet season it reverses direction and flows 'upsteam' into the Tonle Sap Lake expanding the lake from its dry season size of 3,000 sq kms to more than 7,000 sq kms and about four times as deep. Many families live permanently on the lake in floating huts like these.
The road up from the Tonle SapLake is quite rough and passes through some interesting villages.
I stopped at one of the villages to take some photographs and immediately attracted attention from crowd of kids. Initially they were quite shy when I took my camera out, but as you will see from the following two photographs, I was able to make friends fairly quickly.
This is one of my favourite shots from my 2003 Cambodia trip -- some children looking after their baby daughter in a hammock by the side of the road in the village of Chong Khneas.It is very common for children to be given the responsibility for looking after babies in Cambodian society.
A candid shot of one of the village girls.Even though many of these village kids are living in terrible poverty, they seem to be much happier than the street kids living in Phnom Penh.
Another one of my favourite shots from the 2003 Cambodia trip -- this one of a young girl relaxing on a wall of a monastery in Phnom Penh. I like how the colours of her tee-shirt blend in with the pastel colours of the monastery wall.
Seeing as I started this album with a sunrise pic, I will finish it with a sunset pic. This one was taken over the rice fields south-west of Siem Reap with a Nikon D100 using a Nikkor AF 80-200mm f2.8D ED lenses with the focal length at 170mm. (ISO: 200; Shutter speed: 1/250th sec; aperture: f5.6).