The last stop on the Paul and Alison tour of fun was Siem Reap and Angkor Archaeological Park. In Siem Reap we stayed at my favorite guest house – Two Dragons. This was Paul’s first time visiting Angkor but my second (my first visit was in 2005). In order to keep things a bit more interesting I thought I’d share some photos from my first visit and most recent to show how things have changed in just a few short years. I also wanted to share some photos from the rehabilitation work being done at some of the temples in the park. Check them out when you click Keep reading!
The happy couple at Ta Prohm
First- let’s take a look at Angkor Wat. Since 2005 there has been considerable attention at the toll that tourism is taking on the temple. There are quite a few conservation projects in the works at Angkor that were not there on my first visit.
Angkor Wat in 2005
Angkor Wat in 2008- you can see the scaffolding on one of the towers.
One of the biggest changes is that they no longer let tourists visit the very top level of Angkor. I was fortunate enough to be able to visit the top level in 2005 (below)
There were the terrifyingly steep stairs you had to go up and down to get to that uppermost level in 2005. One woman on the picture above was hysterically crying about the steep climb down.
Now that the top is closed, Paul just relaxes on the second level.
Here’s some Apsara’s from my most recent visit- These above are looking pretty good but the one’s below are in bad need of TLC.
I missed this on the first visit: A group of partially finished Apsaras!
High tech materials are used to keep Angkor Wat together!
The Bayon is still looking good with no major changes since my first visit. Below is a face of the Buddha from one of the towers.
Meanwhile Ta Prohm has some new changes. Ta Prohm is a sprawling, flat monastic complex that was left in the condition it was found (more or less) in order to give people an idea about what Angkor was like when it was first “re-discovered” by the French. On my first visit, it definitely had a jungle feel. Now some wooden walkways have been installed which heavily guides the route of the tour. This is better for the preservation of the temple I’m sure, but makes the overall experience less mysterious.
In 2005 you entered Ta Prohm through the main entrance but now in 2008 (below) this entrance is closed for repair.
In 2005 Ta Prohm was a jumbled mess of stones! It is still like that now but there are many more signs warning you to keep your distance. This is true throughout Angkor park.
Banteay Srei is still looking beautiful. In 2005 when I visited it was pouring rain. There were also a few of the original (?) statues sitting in the temple complex.
Now in 2005 they have all been replaced with fresh new statues.
The small temple of Chau Say Tevoda is still under construction now (top) as it was in 2005 (bottom)
The stucco reliefs at Pre Rub still look in pretty good condition. Here’s one from 2005
And below the same relief from 2008
The view below from Pre Rub (from 2005) is just as beautiful today.
The Baphuon is still closed to visitors (as it was in 2005) due to comprehensive conservation efforst by the French. This was as close as I could get on the most recent visit.
This visit we also saw the temple of Phnom Bakheng, something I missed in 2005. During sunrise and sunset the temple is crowded with people but during the rest of the day it is almost empty. From the top is a beautiful view of the countryside and the towers of Angkor Wat (below- in the center of the photo).
Here’s a portion of Phnom Bakheng they are repairing and replaced with new blocks.
A nice shot of the temple- note the wooden bracing structures used to prevent walls from collapsing.
Last but not least was this great little moment we stumbled on while visiting Banteay Kdei.
As my friend Claire noted: “No worries, I bet there’s an NGO or Int’l Org in Cam doing something about the illiterate dogs there.”
Oh, Alison, what an exotic, wondrous place – the statuary intrigues me! Those hairstyles (crowns?),the hand positions – I am embarrassed to admit it – my familiarity with that part of the world is from “The King and I” (yes, I know – that’s Thailand) but seeing those buildings makes me think of visual music..thank you SO much for these beautiful pictures!