As nice as the previous days cycle tour of the main temples was, it didn’t really offer anything too new so I was more excited about taking a tuk-tuk around what is known as the Grand Tour Circuit. I may have titled this piece as the lesser temples and though they are less popular on the tourist circuit than the Small Tour Circuit ones they are all still very impressive.
It felt good to be able to just drive on past the crowds at Angkor Wat on our re-visit to the Angkor Thom vicinity which we both wanted to see again as we didn’t have enough time the previous day to explore much beyond Bayon. It was still nice to take another look around that temple’s gothic towers which are decorated with over 200 faces.
200 metres up the road from Bayon is Baphuon; entered via an elevated sandstone walkway and featuring some very steep climbs via ladders. It’s just over 40 metres tall and the views from the top of this mid-11th century built temple were impressive. Sadly, my wife wasn’t allowed in as she wasn’t dressed appropriately as her top was sleeveless!
Just beyond Baphuon were some terrace walls (below) decorated with some meticulous carvings that were chiselled out in the late 12th century. Impossible not to appreciate and unbelievably the walls were never quite completed!
It was good to get to Preah Khan (below) and then experience unknown territory (hard to remember exactly which places I visited at the end of 2006 when I was last in town!) and this temple involved a fantastic straight walk from one to the other which took quite a while to complete.
As we got towards the end, things opened out a bit and it’s appearance was similar to that of Ta Prohm a.k.a. the ‘Tomb Raider‘ temple!
Ta Som (below) was the quickest stop of the day and involved taking a fairly lengthy boardwalk over swampy water wastelands which led the way to a small but pleasant temple surrounded by water somewhat similar to a water feature in a park.
East Mebon (below) was another one reminiscent of Ta Prohm with the trees roots growing out of the ruins.
The temple tour continued and though we were getting a bit tired they were all different and still so impressive. Pre Rup (below) and it’s stone figure elephants was next on the agenda and that was followed by some very late lunch at Sras Srang.
The final place on our tour was the brick-built Prasat Kravan (below) which I actually went to in 2006 whilst stupidly attempting to walk between Ta Prohm and Angkor Wat! My friends and I didn’t quite realise the scale of the map back then! The brick carvings contained within one of the tower walls was an impressive sight.
Just as we were looking forward to getting back late afternoon our tuk-tuk got a puncture shortly after leaving our final temple. Luckily, our driver Sna could get the tyre repaired very nearby leaving us roadside in the middle of nowhere which bemused each and every passing motorist as they wondered why the hell two foreigners had stopped there with no form of transportation apparent. Back at the hotel later I finally used the swimming pool and we had some some local food ahead of our exit from Siem Reap the following morning.
You can read ‘Cambodia 2015 Pt IV: Lara Croft Tomb Raider Filming Locations‘ here