Sunday, September 13, 2009

Sunset central

Today's peaceful sunset over Srah Srang at Angkor
Now popped over to see me and we took the opportunity to get out to Angkor to have a look at three sunset locations, now that Phnom Bakheng, the prime spot for sunsets over the Western Baray, is a virtual circus. I was pleased to hear Sokuntheary, the ticket-seller, offer me both a three consecutive day pass or a three days in a week pass when I arrived at the ticket counter, as I'd heard you had to ask. We headed for the quiet temple of Eastern Mebon and saw the buses lining up as we passed Pre Rup, which didn't augur well for that temple. Meanwhile, Eastern Mebon was empty but the high tree-line negated it as a sunset location so we quickly headed back to Pre Rup. Here the Japansese tourist buses had spilled out their contents and with such a small temple by comparison to Bakheng, every available vantage spot was taken well before sunset arrived and ruined any hope of watching the sunset in peace and tranquility. Pre Rup has become a mini-Phnom Bakheng and don't forget this is the low season, so it'll only get worse after November. I had one last option as the sky darkened. Srah Srang was close enough so we got the car driver to drop us at the eastern end of the royal pool and we settled down to watch the sunset in that peace and quiet I was looking for. And considering the inclement weather of recent weeks, it was a lovely sunset too as the sky took on a hue of blues and yellows. Recomendation; if you are looking for your own sunset location and don't mind the crowds, then Bakheng will suit you. If you want some peace then you'll likely be on your own at Srah Srang or even Phnom Krom, if you don't mind the drive out towards the lake and a tough climb up the hill. The latter isn't everyone's cup of tea.
The view from the top of Pre Rup
Now poses for a picture at the top level of Pre Rup
This was the scene at the top level of Pre Rup and there were virtually no more spaces to be had
Some lovely cloud formations at Srah Srang
With just a family for company, Srah Srang was completely devoid of anyone else

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Thursday, February 12, 2009

Temple mountains

Lets take a closer look at two of the temples I flew over on Tuesday morning in the two-seater microlite. The top one is Pre Rup, built in 961 and one of the most important temple mountains as it marks the transition from the pre-classic to the classic period of Angkor. It consists of two terraces, on the second of which is a three-tier pyramid. At the top, the central tower is flanked by four corner towers, all in brick. The central shrine would've housed a linga dedicated to Shiva. Below the upper tier are twelve smaller towers and on the ground floor, are another five larger brick towers, opening to the east and catching the rising sun as can be seen in the picture. One unusual feature of Pre Rup, where a sunset view across the surrounding ricefields is worth considering, is the presence of a sarcophagus, though some scholars debate this feature.
Also dedicated to Shiva, East Mebon was constructed in 952, so is older than Pre Rup and used to be in the centre of a huge, now dry, baray. Known for its elephant statues, East Mebon has three terraces with the five brick towers of the upper tier, open to the east with remains of stucco and some particularly fine lintels. Both temples are pre-cursors to the intricacies of the Banteay Srei style and the great temple constructions of Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom.

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