Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Banteay Samre, Pre Rup and the South Gate

Cambodia post!

Before I leave for my diving trip tomorrow, a post on the continuation of the Angkor temples. In the past, for tourism purpose, many tour agencies like to divide the temples within the Angkor Archaelogical Park into the 'Little' and 'Big' circuit. So the 'Little' circuit mainly covers the Angkor Wat and a few major and minor Angkor Thom (the city right beside Angkor Wat) temples while the 'Big' circuit covers Angkor Wat and more Angkor Thom temples. And because there are so many temples within the archaeological park, it's almost impossible for everyone to cover all of the temples in just one day. So likewise, Sophea tried bringing us to see all of the major, 'must-see' Angkor temples which includes the Angkor Wat and the other previous 3 temples I had blogged about and in between, he made brief stops at some of the minor temples along the way. We didn't follow any particular circuit though, it was just our very own circuit.

Among the few minor temple ruins that Sophea brought us to were the Banteay Samre, Pre Rup, Terrace of the Elephant, Terrace of the Leper King and also the South Gate of Angkor Thom.

Banteay Samre

My first impression on this temple was that they have similar walls to those of Banteay Srei. It was a pretty small temple, so we finished it pretty quickly to move on to our next temple.  Nonetheless, although small and not as statuesque as the major temples, their bas reliefs and motifs were just as admirable.

The entrance to Banteay Samre
Notice the similar laterite walls it has to Banteay Srei?
Motif of a sleeping Buddha
The central tower
Less popular but still a beautiful temple

Pre Rup

The most outstanding feature of this temple is the fact there are three steep tiers that probably rises more than a dozen metres from ground to the summit platform where the towers are. And I'm not kidding when I say the stairway leading up to the summit is indeed quite narrow and steep. Certainly not suitable for those who are afraid of heights or those who gets vertigo easily but for those who successfully made it to the summit platform, we were treated to a refreshing scenery of the jungles and rice paddies of the Cambodian countryside.
The entrance to Pre Rup
The three steep tiers and the quincunx of towers at the top
This is how everything looks when you made it through halfway
And finally, to the top. Yay!
I'm afraid of heights, I seriously do but I braced myself to the top just because I refused to give up and I wanted to see how gorgeous the scenery below really is so badly
Lush greeneries awaits once you are at the top

South Gate

There are five gates (entrances) into the ancient city of Angkor Thom. Each of these gates are crowned with four gigantic faces and coming back from the Bayon temple, Sophea drove past the South Gate of Angkor Thom and stopped shortly to allow us to admire the magnificent architecture of the gate before moving on to our last temple of the day, the Phnom Bakheng (more in next post).
The South Gate with an entrance small enough to permit one vehicle only at a time
The statues along the road by the South Gate. Most of these statue heads were actually stolen by art theft leaving behind a headless torso. But most of the stolen heads are now replaced with replicas so that the statue will not be left without a head
Our main mode of transportation around the Angkor temples- the beloved tuk tuk. I don't know if it's just me, but I think the tuk tuk of Cambodia looks somewhat different than those in Bangkok
It was definitely a very eye opening day marveling at all the grand art of the ancient Cambodian. How they creatively came up with those extensive motifs and bas reliefs, how meticulous they are at such intricate work and how magnificent and unique each of the temples are truly blew me away. But wait, there's still one last temple I had yet to blogged about, one last one to wrap up our amazing journey visiting the Angkor temples of Cambodia. Till then, take care and have a happy week ahead. :)

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