03-02 Angkor 3

at the rear entrance to Ta Som

2nd.March, Angkor 3 – Angkor Wat sunrise, Ta Son, Neak Pean, Preah Khan

I had an extra day in Siem Reap at my disposal since my flight to Zürich (via Bangkok) was not until the evening whereas my companions were leaving early morning for Frankfurt and Berlin. In addition the Angkor tickets were valid for 3 days so that I could still make use of mine. Only the minibus and driver had to be paid and a guide was not necessary after the previous 2 days experience.

Angkor Wat has a reputation for offering good sunrise opportunities, so I decided to leave in the dark at 5.00 in order to be positioned in time for this. Of course I was not the only one with this idea but it was possible to claim a small space on the banks of a lotus flower filled lake in front of Angor Wat. Unfortunately the photos were not so good as I had hoped because there were no clouds around to make a red sky.

Ta Som is a small temple, built at the end of the 12th century for King Jayavarman VII. It is located north east of Angkor Thom and just east of Neak Pean. The King dedicated the temple to his father Dharanindravarman II who was King of the Khmer Empire from 1150 to 1160. The temple consists of a single shrine located on one level and surrounded by enclosure laterite walls. Like the nearby Preah Khan and Ta Prohm the temple was left largely unrestored, with numerous trees and other vegetation growing among the ruins. In 1998, the World Monuments Fund (WMF) added the temple to their restoration program and began work to stabilise the structure to make it safer for visitors.

I had also heard about Ta Som and went there straight after the sunrise expecting few other visitors. I was rewarded with the temple almost to myself and I could adsorb the peaceful atmosphere, which was quite different from that at Ta Prohm the day before. I even found an arch with a fig tree growing out of it as I had been looking for. On the way back I could visit Neak Pean which was also different being situated on a small island in the middle of a circular lake. The whole complex was itself in a flooded area where some water buffalo were grazing. My final temple visit was to Preah Khan, which was similar to Ta Som, but there were hardly any trees left growing on the ruins there.

After a lunch stop I returned to my hotel pleased with my last day. I was collected for transfer to the Siem Reap airport at 18.45 having arranged to keep my room until then. The journey went well but because of hostilities in Kashmir the flight from Bangkok was diverted further North over China and Russia, landing about 1 hour late.

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