Here's the S gate. as you can see there's barely enough space for a car to go through. There were a few police there, but they didn't do much to control traffic. I pretty much had to jump in between two cars and move quick enough so that the car behind me didn't run me over.
Once I entered I noticed a cool tree so I took a picture of it. As you will see in this post there were a lot of cool looking trees on this trip.
First stop was Bayon. This was the main temple and the center of Angkor Thom.
It was covered in carvings. I kind of wish the "tour guide" was with me so that he could explain what they meant, but either way it was pretty impressive.
Next we visited the Royal Palace group. This consisted of the palace and some temples. My driver just dropped me off, gave me some brief information on what I would see and some general directions on which way to travel. I'm pretty sure I got lost, but the views were very nice.
This is the top of the palace where the king lived. We weren't allowed up there though.
I started following some random trails and saw some pretty interesting structures.
There were some stairs we were allowed to climb and some that we were not. At first I felt like it was pretty random, but now think it was mostly for preservation. We weren't allowed to climb the stairs below, probably so that it maintained it's look. There was a wooden stair case on the other side that we were allowed to climb to get to the first level.
The first level of this temple had some narrow walkways.
You could get to the top of most structures. Here is an example of a set of "stairs" that led to the top of this temple.
And here's what it looks like from the top. There was an old lady up here that said a prayer and then tied a string around your wrist. I've participated in something similar in Laos whenever they had a baci.
Hiding behind those trees were two boys who kind of jumped you once you got to the top. They started explaining a few things in broken English and then asked for a donation for their schooling. I obliged even though there was no way to prove they were getting money for school. People aren't paid much there, and I really hope they were using it for school.
The following are from the Leper and Elephant terraces. This was the end of my long walk around the royal palace group. Right before here there was a little market so I decided to buy a tour book that had a map and an explanation of the areas I was looking at. As soon as I bought one thing I was crowded by about 8 other people trying to sell me other stuff. I had to push my way past them since they completely surrounded me and wouldn't let me pass. I guess they figure if you buy one thing you're willing to buy more.
Here is a view from the top of the terrace.
You had the option of walking on top of the terrace, around the front of it, or you could even walk in these narrow areas that were inside them. I alternated between all three as I walked along them and then back again. As you can see the walls were aligned with carvings both inside...
Here's a view from outside of the Elephant terrace.
My driver then took me to Ta Prohm which is another popular temple there. It's where they shot some of the Tomb Raider movie. It was very beautiful, but it was pretty tough getting a shot without people in it. The busiest section was where the actual scene took place. I wouldn't have known if someone else hadn't told me (I liked the games, but not a fan of the movie), so I don't really have a picture of that.
Here is an example of some the restoration work they are doing. As you can see from some of the above photos there were a lot of loose stones. They were in the process of restoring much of the temple. They used the original stones and then reinforced it with concrete.
The temple is called Banteay Srei which means "citadel of the women". The driver just referred to it as the woman's temple. It was similar to the other temples, but it had this red and orange color that made it stand out.
This was a random temple we saw while driving back from the women's temple. I had the driver stop so I could hop out and take a picture.
You are not allowed to climb these stairs.
but it's okay to climb these ones.
That night I went to the night market and bought a couple of souvenirs. The following morning I just rested until my flight. Maybe if we go back we'll check out the floating market and some of the temples that were a little further away, but I'm very happy with my one day in Siem Reap and Becky's glad she didn't have to go ("It looks like a lot of hiking" and "Could you imagine doing this with the kids?").