Biking Tour of Angkor

Not surprisingly, southeast Asia is hot. It’s so hot that we decided to get up before the sun to join a bike tour around the Angkor temples. The most famous of these temples is Angkor Wat, but there are many other temples and ruins in the area.

Sun peeking around center spire

Sun peeking around center spire

We're up before the sun at Angkor Wat

We’re not the only ones up before the sun at Angkor Wat

Sun above the center spire of Angkor Wat

Sun above the center spire of Angkor Wat

After watching the sunrise we followed our tour guide into Angkor Wat to listen to his detailed description of the wall carvings that stretch down long hallways on all four sides of the temple. One carving describes the “Churning of the Sea of Milk”, which I think is a myth about a struggle between gods and demons. There was also a long wall dedicated to one particular battle. It was cool to see the many figures in the carvings, even if I didn’t understand the story behind them.

Battle scene carving

Battle scene carving

Intricate pattern and a figure called an apsara

Intricate pattern and a figure called an apsara

Stone shiny from many tourist hands?

Stone shiny from many tourist hands?

 

The original photo bomber

The original photo bomber

Archer on an elephant

Archer on an elephant

Us at Angkor Wat

Us at Angkor Wat

An Angkor Wat courtyard

An Angkor Wat courtyard

Round spire and square temple

Round spire and square temple

"All the single ladies..

“All the single ladies…”

At one point we climbed up a steep wooden stairway to visit the upper level of Angkor Wat. As steep as this stairway is, the original stone stairway beneath it is even steeper! Apparently this was to force anyone entering the temple to climb the steps hunched over. Only the front stairway, for use by the king alone, was a less steep climb, allowing the king to walk upright.

The stairs up there were steep

The stairs up there were steep!

Performers getting ready

Performers getting ready

Looking down a long carved hallway

Looking down a long carved hallway

Another spire in Angkor Wat

Another spire in Angkor Wat

About this time we stopped for a tasty breakfast provided by our bike tour company. While stopped, our guide noticed an animal in a nearby tree. I snapped a few photos and later identified it as an Asian palm civet. Have you heard of kopi luwak coffee? It’s a special brew made from coffee beans that have gone through the digestive tract of these animals. But please don’t buy this kind of coffee since the coffee beans are likely from an animal living in a tiny cage somewhere being force-fed coffee berries.

Digging into our bike tour's breakfast

Digging into our bike tour’s breakfast

An Asian palm civet

An Asian palm civet

Better view of the civet

Better view of the civet

Anyway, after breakfast we biked to Angkor Thom. Now, Angkor Wat is a large building, but Angkor Thom is a huge walled city. It’s about three kilometers on each side and full of temples and other impressive buildings.

Photo op on bridge into Angkor Thom

Photo op on bridge into Angkor Thom

Angkor Thom south gate

Angkor Thom south gate

A figure leading into Angkor Thom

A figure leading into Angkor Thom

Angkor Thom south bridge

Angkor Thom south bridge

Figure on bridge to Angkor Thom

Figure on bridge to Angkor Thom

At the center of Angkor Thom is the Bayon temple. It’s a little more run-down than Angkor Wat, but it also has some fine wall carvings and it is famous for it’s many smiling face carvings.

The Bayon temple in the middle of Angkor Thom

The Bayon temple in the middle of Angkor Thom

Large wall carving at Bayon temple

Large wall carving at Bayon temple

Water buffalo at Bayon temple

Water buffalo? at Bayon temple

Smiling Bayon faces

Smiling Bayon faces

Bayon face carving

Bayon face carving

Alan in temple doorway

Alan in temple doorway

Caroline peering out a small doorway

Caroline peering out a small doorway

Doorway and jumbled stones

Doorway and jumbled stones

Fallen temple hallway?

Fallen temple hallway?

As we left the Bayon temple we were glad to see our tour van driver waiting by our bikes. He had some cold bottles of water and ice cold hand towels to help us cool off. Given the oppressive heat we were all thankful for the refreshment. Then we were back on our bikes to ride to Ta Prohm, also known as the Tomb Raider temple since it was featured in the movie of that name. This temple is famous for the many trees growing up over the rock walls. It was really cool to see this in person and imagine how the jungle slowly overtook the temples during centuries of neglect.

Ta Prohm temple with tree growing out of it!

Ta Prohm temple with tree growing out of it!

Tree growing from the roof of Ta Prohm

Tree growing from the roof of Ta Prohm

Tourists love to pose with this tree

Tourists love to pose with this tree

See the face behind the tree roots?

See the face behind the tree roots?

Ta Prohm tree growing over stones

Ta Prohm tree growing over stones

Massive tree roots

Massive tree roots

Former royal bathing pool

Former royal bathing pool

We had a great time biking around the Angkor area, but we were very hot and sweaty and ready to return to our air conditioned hotel room (after a dip in the swimming pool). We laid around most of the afternoon to recover from the hot morning and then enjoyed a nice dinner by the pool. One highlight at dinner was the small frog on a ledge near our table. We were having fun, taking photos of it right up until it jumped into Caroline’s hair! She squealed as you would expect when a frog jumps on your head, but I managed to catch it and release it near the hotel’s goldfish pond.

Alan and the frog, before it jumped into Caroline's hair!

Alan and the frog, before it jumped into Caroline’s hair!

Lovely little pool at our Siem Reap hotel

Lovely little pool at our Siem Reap hotel

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