Travel outside Japan

Cambodia Day 1: Bayon Temple

29862215542_b559730267_kAfter Ta Prohm, we paused for a tasty lunch across from a small lake near by. My mom had chicken fried rice, my dad pork ribs and I had chicken amok. And cold Angkor beers around. After that, it was off to see our final temple of the day, Bayon, one I was very much looking forward to seeing, because of the many carved faces in its towers.

Along the way we passed by a pair of temples dedicated to Vishnu and Shiva; stopped to take pictures of one of the impressive gateways to Angkor Thom (the old capitol city where Bayon is located), also decorated with giant faces on all sides; and got a glimpse of the Elephant Terrace.

29862190622_7570b82132_kOriginally there were over 50 towers in Bayon, each representing a region in Cambodia, but less than 40 remain today. Even with diminished numbers, they’re quite impressive, with giant, serene faces everywhere you look. Bayon is built more like Angkor Wat, in that it goes up, but it’s not as tall, so I was willing to head up and in, to get closer to the carvings. And again, had the temple not been full to overflowing with other tourists (more than a few crawling into windows and other inappropriate places to take selfies), I would’ve taken pictures of every square inch. Okay, maybe not that many, but certainly more.

29348980654_44720d2e13_kAs it was, I wandered around the upper level in awe, snapping as many pics as I could. Bayon is, like Ta Prohm, not fully reconstructed. Our guide made it sound like it might not ever be fully completed, and I think I prefer it that way. I didn’t realize until after we were back that there are extensive carvings around the outside of the temple. But by then, exhilarated as I was by the day’s adventures, I was also as worn out as everyone else by the heat and humidity, so was ready to head back for a nap. On our way back to the car, Samath had us stop to take pictures of the temple reflected in the water that separates it from the road. And wow … one of the best travel pics I’ve ever ended up with. The shot is unreal, magical. It’s as if you blinked, Bayon would be gone, just a mirage.

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