Feb. 3 – Angkor: The Big Circuit

We weren’t up at dawn for the Big Circuit but we did get a fairly early start to avoid the heat while riding from Siem Reap to Angkor. We bypassed Angkor Wat and went straight to Angkor Thom. Once again we saw sign of elephant.

elephant sign, Angkor, Cambodia
Watch for Crossing Elephants

We arrived at the south gate of Angkor Thom early enough that I could photograph some of the statues along the causeway without too many tourists blocking the view. On the left side of the causeway were statues of 54 gods (shown below); on the right were 54 demons.

Angkor Thom, south gate gods, Angkor, Cambodia
The Gods

We passed through Angkor Thom, exiting out the north gate and made our way to Preah Khan, one of the largest temple complexes at Angkor. Once again we saw the long line of doors leading through the cruciform main temple.

Preah Khan, Angkor, Cambodia
Preah Khan Doors

Many of the walls at Preah Khan retain their original plaster coverings with delicate carvings while others have the more deeply incised relief carvings.

Preah Khan, Angkor, Cambodia
Preah Khan Windows

Again we saw huge tree roots embracing buildings and walls. Below Sue stands in the shadows to help give some perspective to the size of these roots.

Preah Khan, Angkor, Cambodia
Preah Khan Roots

At Preah Khan we saw a building with rare round columns, reminding us of Greek architecture. No one knows (yet) the purpose of this building.

Preah Khan, Angkor, Cambodia
Preah Khan Columns

And on the way back out one more photo of roots entwined around the building.

Preah Khan, Angkor, Cambodia
Preah Khan, More Roots!

Our next stop was Preah Neak Pean, a small temple site situated in and around a pool. We spent a few minutes here sitting in the shade contemplating the reflections.

Preah Neak Pean, Angkor, Cambodia
Preah Neak Pean

And then on to Ta Som, to one of the most photographed sites at Angkor: once again roots enveloping a building.

Ta Som, Angkor, Cambodia
Ta Som Roots

At a quiet restaurant beside Ta Som we stopped for lunch where Sue engaged some of the kids. One thing about traveling with Sue – she’s not shy and will strike up a conversation with anyone with a smile.

meeting Cambodians, Angkor, Cambodia
Sue Making Friends

And last, but not least, Banteay Kdei…. just another amazing site in the midst of so many at Angkor.

Banteay Kdei, Angkor, Cambodia
Banteay Kdei

Across the road we paused for a photo op at Sra Srang, a large pool, but still only small compared to some of the largest at Angkor.

Sra Srang, Angkor, Cambodia
Sue at Sra Srang

And that was the end of our ride around the Big Circuit, and of our visit to Angkor. We’d recommend traveling here to anyone. It’s an impressive place, with literally thousands of ruins, amazing architecture and countryside and people. Sure there’s lots of people trying to sell souvenirs but if one takes a minute to talk to them you can get beyond the hucksterism and have an interesting dialogue (Sue was wearing her Jenny Holzer T-shirt with its list of Truisms which intrigued many Cambodians we met). Angkor is one of the great sites of the world, one not to be missed if you have the chance.

But it was time for us to move on… across the lake and up the river by boat to Battenbang.

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