Angkor Wat, November 2015. I’d been living in the Cambodian city of Siem Reap for a few months when I finally took a tuk-tuk out to the world famous ruins of Angkor. I’d been saving it for the visit of my mate Chris who’d flown over from London. So off we went along with a girl I’d been seeing and her pretty but uncommunicative sister. Waking up at the painful hour of 05:00, it was a magical anticipatory ride over in the darkness, and boy oh boy were we rewarded as we rocked up at Angkor Wat in time for daybreak. Described as “the heart and soul of Cambodia”, that sunrise stands as a real highlight from all my years of travelling.
Angkor Wat, November 2015. There were hundreds of tourists there that morning gathered around the lake with their cameras and phones. And yet the atmosphere was largely calm and reflective; as if Angkor Wat’s melting colors and angular shadows had placed us all under an enchanting spell. Somehow the interior, as beautiful as it undoubtedly is, felt like a bit of an anti climax in comparison.
Bayon Temple, November 2015. The best way to get around Angkor is to hire a tuk tuk driver to ferry you around the various sites. Another heavyweight temple is the 12th century Bayon Complex with its multitudes of carved Buddha faces. With 54 towers, over 216 faces and numerous halls and rooms with mythological and historical carvings, it’s a truly dizzying experience.
Bayon Temple, November 2015. This is Bayon’s most famous carved face, the one that gives visitors the much-anticipated nose-to-nose experience. A likeness of the Khmer Empire’s most powerful monarch, King Jayavarman VI, he may have once been Asia’s most powerful ruler, but when it came to his conk he was clearly no match for me!
Ta Phrom Temple, November 2015. Probably Angkor’s most atmospheric temple, Ta Phrom’s crumbling walls are intertwined with a vast network of tree roots, many of them long since decayed. In addition to this beauty, perched atop a moss-infested gallery, you can also seek out the amazing Crocodile Tree; as well as the Tomb Raider Tree where Angelina Jolie’s Lara Croft picked a Jasmine flower.