Although Angkor Wat gets all of the fame, Angkor Thom was by far my favorite part of the complex in Siem Reap. I think it's because, something about the Bayon temple made me feel like I was living in the movie Congo. (one of my all time fav movies as a kid, yes the one with killer gorillas). This place seemed surreal and frozen in time... I was in love.
When looking at the map, in this post I will talk about #2 (the Southern Entrance into Angkor Thom), #3 (The Bayon Temple) & #4 (The Terrace of the Elephants).
Here is another quick history lesson thanks to wikipedia:
"Angkor Thom, located in present day Cambodia, was the last and most enduring capital city of the Khmer empire. It was established in the late twelfth century by King Jayavarman VII. It covers an area of 9km, within which are located several monuments from earlier eras as well as those established by Jayavarman and his successors. At the centre of the city is Jayavarman's state temple, the Bayon."
The Southern Entrance:
Angkor Thom is surrounded by a moat which has 4 different entrances into Angkor Thom. We took the southern entrance that was flanked by these amazing statues. On the left side were 54 figures of devas (gods), and on the right side 54 figures of asuras (demons). Both rows were holding a naga (serpent) which made it look like they were in a tug of war.
The Bayon Temple
Ah, the Bayon Temple, I wish I could put my true feelings about this place into words. But, i'm terrible with writing, which is why I take A LOT of pictures and videos!
"The Bayon's most distinctive feature is the multitude of serene and smiling stone faces on the many towers which jut out from the upper terrace and cluster around its central peak." - wikipedia
The Bayon Temple is somewhat of an amazing maze where you can spend hours just roaming through the different hallways. I tried to capture some of that in the video.
I'm not sure if you can see in the video, but we are already sweating and its only 8am in the morning!! Just imagine what it felt like at noon. Who thought it was a good idea to go to Cambodia in May?? (at least the hotels were much cheaper because it was low season)
Within the Angkor Thom complex, there were some other "smaller temples" (but equally as beautiful) which we roamed around. You'll notice that sometimes the steps were built too steep, and they were not safe for people to climb, so they created stairs on top of the stairs (still extremely steep i might add)
The Terrace of the Elephants
And then last on our exploration through Angkor Thom was the Terrace of the Elephants. The 350m long terrace was used as a giant reviewing stand for public ceremonies and served as a base for the kings grand audience hall. It is basically a super long turning hallway of amazing bas reliefs. Its amazing to think that after all of this time, most of the details are fully intact.
I'm sure you can see why Angkor Thom was actually my favorite of all the temples in the complex. Next, we were onto Ta Keo!