Friday, June 11, 2010

Last Templing

Ta Nei
Ta Nei

With only a couple more days left in Siem Reap we wanted to use the last day on our seven-day temple pass to see some temples we had missed.


One of them was
Phnom Bakheng, a temple we had passed literally every time we had gone from Angkor Wat to Angkor Thom. The portion of the temple that faces the road has a sign strung across keeping visitors away and I had always assumed it was closed. However, as it turns out, you just enter from around the back.

Bakheng was constructed on top of an existing hill, making it higher than any of the other temples in the area. One would think this would lead to arresting views. The hike to the top of the hill itself is not very scenic as the hill has extensive tree coverage even interferes with the views from the specifically constructed scenic overlooks. To get a truly good view, you need to get to the top of the temple. Did I mention it had insanely steep stairs? We all know how Sara loves insanely steep stairs. See this entry.


After Bakheng, we decided to head to
Ta Nei. Ta Nei isn't quite off the beaten track. There is in fact a beaten track. It is, however, off the roads that lead to all the other temples in the Angkor complex. We took a left turn at a dirt path and headed into the jungle. The humidity in the air immediately rose dramatically. When we came to the fork we realized that our Ancient Angkor book hadn't really been too specific in indicating how exactly to get to this temple. When we came to the second fork we started to wonder if we were lost. When the path ended in a clearing where a logging operation was clearly taking place we knew we were in the wrong place.

Cale was able to use his improving Khmer skills to ask the man hanging out by the wood how to get to the temple and was able to understand his response. We were to head back the way we came and turn left at the second opportunity. It appears we had chosen poorly at the first fork.

When we finally came on the temple it was clearly rarely visited and in a state of extreme disrepair. Just the way we like our temples.

We had planned to continue on north of Angkor Thom to see more temples on our last day, but decided to head home. Cale and I had been borrowing bikes for the last several days rather than renting. The bike I was using had a broken seat. It was a little uncomfortable, but nothing noticeable for short trips into town and back. However, after riding around on it all day I discovered that my backend was in agony and my lower back and neck were starting to join in the complain fest. Cale gave my bike a brief try and was shocked to discover just how uncomfortable it was. The trip home started to get tricky because I could only ride the bike for short distances before I needed to get off and walk it for a while. Cale had a hard time riding the bike as well. Not only because the seat was so poor, but because he couldn't pedal without hitting his knees on the handlebars. We found an eventual compromise where I road Cale's bike and he sat on mine while holding on to the back of the one I was pedaling. So I provided the power for both.

And so finished our last day at the Angkor temples.

— Sara


TomC said...

Perhaps instead of labeling them insanely steep stairs, you would feel better if you characterized them as extremely sturdy ladders:)


Barb Carusillo said...

That must have been a site to see, you pedaling, him hanging on the back....