Monday, February 9, 2009


This morning's sunrise over Angkor Wat
Cream-crackered, or knackered, is how I felt this afternoon after an early start for sunset followed by cycling along the complete length of the walls of Angkor Thom, the royal city at the heart of the Angkor complex. After seeing the Phnom Bakheng circus for myself the previous evening, I was up at 5am for the sunrise at Angkor Wat this morning, which was an even bigger 'big-top circus' than the night before. It felt like most of the inhabitants of Korea, Japan and China were crammed into the grounds of Angkor Wat to witness the sunrise, and all of them were talking at the same time. It was horrendous, saved only by the magnificence of Angkor Wat and the sun as it rose above the central towers. Long gone are the days when it was just me and the cicadas for company. Nowadays thousands pack themselves in for the sunrise experience, covering every available vantage point waiting for 'that' shot. After my superb breakfast back at the Tara Angkor, I got on my bike to complete a cycle ride I've always promised myself, in rare moments of madness, which is a complete circuit of the walls of Angkor Thom. It wasn't easy in places as the wall has collapsed in a few spots which meant carrying the mountainbike on my back but the solitude was appealing, visiting all five gates is always worth it and seeing the four smaller temples in each corner of the city was a first for me too. A job well done. I had lunch at Angkor Wat with my friend Now, who was back at her stall selling souvenirs after her day off yesterday for the wedding party, and I rounded off my afternoon with a swim in the pool at my hotel. Dinner was courtesy of my friends at Shadow of Angkor where I dined with Eddie, who flies microlites for a living and showed me his videos and photos just to prove what a different perspective it puts on Cambodia. I was convinced. More soon.
One of the giant faces at the North Gate of Angkor Thom
Even a small temple like Prasat Chrung, in the southeast corner of Angkor Thom, is not safe from temple thieves, as this devata can testify
The West Gate of Angkor Thom used to be almost forgotten, now a wooden ramp provides regular access for nearby villagers and the atmosphere has been lost

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Andy, what was the square area of the city of Angkor Thom? Thanks.

February 10, 2009 at 1:49 AM  
Blogger Andy Brouwer said...

Hi Anon, well I'm told each wall is 3 kms in length, though it seems more than that on the bike especially having to carry the thing up and down to navigate the five gates as well as another half a dozen times when the wall has collapsed and presented some hurdles to cycling the whole length of the wall. I did it but it took me nearly 4 hours with some suitable rest stops in between, not to mention the photography pauses at the gates and the 4 corner temples.
If you fancy doing the trip, take a hat as the sun is shining on your head all the way around during the morning. I'll post a stack of photos sometime soon.

February 10, 2009 at 11:14 PM  

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