Cambodia Day 1 – Baphuon Temple and our first Amok

14 Mar

This is part of my adventures in Cambodia, for more of the trip please click here.

After viewing all of the beautiful faces at Bayon temple, we weren’t sure what we would really be seeing at Baphuon.  I had been so busy before the trip that I hadn’t done very much research, but after another rest stop under a shady tree, we headed towards the temple.

Baphuon temple looked like a chocolate frosted tiered wedding cake from a distance.  It was glowing in the late afternoon sun and in front of it was a bridge with what may have been a moat, but now was dusty as it was the end of the dry season.  We entered from the side and started the long climb up to the top.

Initial view through the trees

Initial view through the trees

The long walkway to the temple

The long walkway to the temple

The steps were steep but luckily there were hand rails for the highest parts and we decided to take a seat up at the front and watch other tourists wander through.  We also noticed that the cobra statues were especially fine in the temple.

Climbing up to the top

Climbing up to the top

The original steps - I was glad there were wooden steps next to them - I think people's feet must have been smaller

The original steps – I was glad there were wooden steps next to them – I think people’s feet must have been smaller

One of my favorite cobras - the eyes still have power many years later

One of my favorite cobras – the eyes still have power many years later

It was peaceful in the afternoon light and we stretched our legs and wondered at the temple higher than the trees and how it may have been viewed.  Our guide at Angkor Wat had told us that the kings of old all felt they needed to build a bigger temple than their predecessor – similar to the pyramids in Egypt, which resulted in the hundreds of temples in the Siem Reap area.  It was hard to believe that they had been abandoned for many centuries and then rediscovered only in the last two hundred years.

View from the top - the same level as the tree tops (and the tips of my shoes)

View from the top – the same level as the tree tops (and the tips of my shoes)

Making our way down, we went to see the back of the temple.  To our surprise, there was a huge sleeping Buddha edged into the side of the back.

The sleeping Buddha

The sleeping Buddha

We also saw the huge trees that we had seen from the top, from the bottom.  They were so enormous – and a precursor of things to come in the following days.

One of the many large trees - with Li in the photo for a sense of scale

One of the many large trees – with Li in the photo for a sense of scale

After a slight mix-up trying to find our driver (Elephant Terrace is not a small place), we finally managed to find him and decided that we were too tired to go view the sunset.  Instead we headed back out of the South Gate and stopped to take a few photos with the warriors edging the sides.  Some of the heads had obviously been restored, but once again I felt transported back to the time when they were new and guarding the wealth of the Khmer kingdom.

The South Gate - and more tuk tuks

The South Gate – and more tuk tuks

Posing by the soliders

Posing by the soldiers

A restored head, still guarding the south gate

A restored head, still guarding the south gate

Back at the hotel, we decided to eat in.  The city center wasn’t far away but seemed like an enormous effort.  We asked at the front desk and they showed us a menu which we ordered from.  According to our travel books, Cambodian cooking is known for many dishes, so we decided to sample the most famous – the Fish Amok – a type of curry/soup combination served with rice as well as the Cambodian style chicken curry and spring rolls.  The prices were reasonable and we settled into the open air restaurant.

Half an hour later, no food had arrived.  I went to the room to check something and when coming back, realized that the kitchen (which was also open air), had no signs of life.  When the food finally arrived, nearly an hour later we figured it out.  The hotel didn’t actually have a restaurant.  Instead, they had ordered us take-out from somewhere and put it in plates/bowls.  Something to check when you book in Siem Reap.

The long awaited Amok

The long awaited Amok

Tired but happy at the end of the day

Tired but happy at the end of the day

The food was excellent though and the hotel next door was publicizing massages so we headed over, booked a spot and let the masseuses work out the tension from all of the steps on that first day.  Cambodia had not let us down and we still had much more to see.

Have you ever stayed at a hotel that may have advertised something that was not quite what you thought?  Share – and stay tuned for more travels in Siem Reap.

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4 Responses to “Cambodia Day 1 – Baphuon Temple and our first Amok”

  1. ladyofthecakes March 14, 2013 at 5:21 pm #

    Aw, just looking at those steps gave me vertigo:(
    The food looks delicious…

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Wonder of the World: Angkor Wat | One Eyebrow Raised - March 15, 2013

    […] Cambodia Day 1 – Baphuon Temple and our first Amok (zhongguojumble.wordpress.com) […]

  2. Cambodia – Dining Downtown | 中国 Jumble - April 7, 2013

    […] spending our first evening in the hotel (and our delivery dinner), the second night we headed into downtown Siem Reap to see what we could find.  The bar street […]

  3. Cambodia Day 4 – Elephants on parade | 中国 Jumble - May 14, 2013

    […] carved into the Elephant Terrace.  We had met our tuk tuk driver at the Elephant Terrace at the end of the first day, but it was only passing it again that we realized that the elephants were actually carved into the […]

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