Angkor Thom, Siam Reap, Cambodia Week 4 20th May 2011
Angkor Thom is a moated walled city with many temples within its bounds.

We took a tuk tuk as the gate was a bit narrow and low for Tardis - though I reckon we could have got through!

The tuk tuk driver stopped for petrol. Now we know what the brownish liquid in bottles by the side of the road are.

This is the causeway across the moat, restored, leading to the South gate.

I was wearing jeans despite the high temperature and humidity as shorts and temples don't mix.

On several occasions we saw local Khmer residents praying.

The inside of the gate.

Unlike Angkor Wat itself these are very obviously (to us) images of Buddha.

There is a suggestion that the city may have accommodated up to 1 million people.

The whole Angkor area had more than adequate water. We couldn't find much about it but the irrigation system was capable of providing 3 or 4 rice crops each year.

This is a plan of the Bayon. The central temple of the Angkor Thom complex.

Basically concentric square walls. The walls were roofed and formed terraces.

The basic plan is similar to Angkor Wat and all the other temples in the area.

As well as the size of the squares the height also varied. Some were tall and very steep. Others flat, the corridors led right through the middle at ground level.

The bas reliefs in the terraces at the Bayon were of the same style as Angkor Wat but conveyed very different images. Images of different wars and different aspects of life.

Apart from prevalence of elephants there were also many images of Chinese.

The inner causeway in the Bayon.
The Buddhas have apparently been described as "enigmatic" but I don't know by whom or when. I guess I can believe it though.


More corbelled arches. This is in cross section because part of it fell down.

The stone is sandstone. Mined about 30km to the NE. There are occasional sandstone hills out of the otherwise flat plain. The mines are in a mountain range.

As sandstone ran out greater use was made of laterite. I have a sneaking suspicion that the moats were the source of the laterite (dug out and dried to harden it) which makes the moats as much practical as an essential design element.

In some later temples bricks were used. Lo and behold the same sort of bricks we encountered at Si Thep in Thailand.

As we drove South, a couple of days after this, we saw brick kilns at the roadside. Still producing the same bricks.

The rooftops were curved. But still corbelled.

The corridors are relatively narrow.

It occurred to me that while Christians and Muslims have congregations gathered under large roofs whereas Hindu and Buddhist worship individually and are more concerned with the journey.

Thus, there is no need within these temples to have large roof spans. No need to develop the greater strength and spans of Roman and Gothic arches.

I can however allow a slight flight of fancy and imagine a 12th century stonemason suggesting a better way of building arches to his superiors and being told it would never work!

The gateways in each successive wall are well decorated on the sides and lintels.
This is the sort of motif that was used for "stone rubbings" and sold by the local souvenir sellers.

We surrendered and purchased some.

We aren't very good tourists. The constant "hello", "where you from?", be it souvenir sellers, wannabe guides, restaurant touts, etc.,  is common to all the world's tourist haunts and Angkor is no different. It unfortunately becomes like swatting flies after a while, though we manage to maintain the facade and smile.

It seems to be reasonably managed here. Its kept to outside the temples. Apart from the people selling incense sticks to bring luck from Buddha in a few places where the central image is intact.

Moving towards the center of the Bayon. Lots more enigmatic Buddhas.
We took photographs of the maps around the place so we could pretend we knew what we were looking at.

I suspect we aren't unique in being limited in how much we can take in and recall in a day of looking at monuments.

The Bayon is at the bottom. About central bottom is the Baphuon temple.

No Buddhas decorating the towers of the Baphuon.
This temple rises in the middle. Similar to Angkor Wat but smaller.
Every bit as steep though. A bit like a pyramid.
And looking down at Ali.

It was noticeable that these temples were not as thoroughly restored as Angkor Wat.

We think this was Phimeanakas.

Rectangular (not square) and much more laterite exposed.

On to the Elephant Terrace. A longish walkway.
We haven't a clue what this bit was. The other side of the road from the Elephant Terrace but not on the maps.
This reminded me of when I was this age, growing up in a tourist village, collecting drink bottles to get the money back.
The Elephant Terrace from below. The same Elephants that were depicted on the gates of Angkor Thom.
And a bit of restoration.
We took the tuk tuk to the North Gate. Not as well preserved and unrestored.

The tree growing out of the wall reminded me of the childhood photos.

And the two of us in the tuk tuk at the North Gate. Taken by the driver.
View of the Elephant Terrace from the tuk tuk.
And another.

We really hadn't appreciated it from above.

We were hot and sweaty when we got back to the Tardis.

The pipe to collect water from the roof isn't quite long enough. Thus, we fill a bucket with roof water (while its raining silly) then pump it into the tanks.

The umbrella was fortunately donated to us by the multimodal terminal people at Port Klang.

The rain was donated by ...........

We collected about 40 litres during the shower. Enough to last a couple of days. For the technically minded the bucket fills quicker than we can empty it. We'll look for a longer piece of pipe to make the task easier (and drier).

Other Temples, Angkor Area, Cambodia, Part One Week 4 21st May 2011