Friday, August 21, 2015

Cambodia - Part 7

Beyond Angkor Wat..

The gates of Angkor Thom, Siem Reap, Cambodia
Just a few kilometers down the road from the Angkor Wat complex; is the gates of Angkor Thom and the Bayon temple ruins.
First, you will ride across a bridge adorned with the Naga carvings. And a four-faced monolith gate, which is just wide enough for a car to pass through.
There are people living around the Angkor area, so, this is a regular commuting path.
We cycled towards Bayon and parked out bikes there.
To gain access into the ruins, you must produce your pass.
This amazing historical site remains as one of the main attractions in the Angkor area and you can spend an hour walking around the temple's compound.

Capturing the moment

Cycling to Bayon

The Bayon ruins..
The influx of tourists in this area is just amazing. 
Traffic is pretty heavy with vans and coaches zipping through.
Once we were done with Bayon, we cycled towards Phrea Khan, another ruin which is a few kilometers down the road.
While we were on the trail, I noticed a pair of wild hogs digging on the ground.
They were looking for their meals: earthworms.
These hogs are so friendly, they weren't shy and afraid of humans.
I watched from distance and took some shots of the piggies and one of them actually came close to our bikes which was parked on a tree..

Free-range bacon

It's just another day for these hogs!
Too close for comfort.. 
Phrea Khan ruins

Just further down the road from Bayon, lies the Preah Khan ruins.
This is an interesting site with a lot of intricate carvings and if you love ancient architecture, it's definitely worth exploring.
We rode into the entrance and locked our bikes on the root of a large tree.
Opposite the temple were stores selling bottled water and coconut juice.
By the time we walked into the area, traders were setting up their stalls, selling bananas and other trinkets.
Michelle and I took a stroll into the temple and were amazed with how magnificent it was.
This particular ruin was built back in the 12th Century by King Jayavarman VII, in Khmer, "Preah Khan" means "Sacred sword".

The interior of Phrea Khan
The temple's front fassaud
Into the inner-sanctum of the temple
The mid-section of Phrea Khan
The foundation of the temple

Despite centuries of neglect, looting and modern-day conflict, these carvings remained intact to tell a story of its past..

The sunlit corridors of Phrea Khan
We were walking into the inner-sanctum of the temple and I heard music playing.
I thought it was some piped-music, but as we moved closer to the temple complex, I noticed a man, who had his right leg amputated due to landmine injuries, playing a musical instrument. It resembles the Chinese harp and a child was beside him clanging away with his small cymbals.
Simple as it sounds, it was melodious.
There was a placard placed in front of a aluminium rice bowl. It was meant for pledging donations to the landmine victims.
Cambodia, during the Khmer Rouge's reign of terror (1975 - 1979), saw millions of Cambodians systematically murdered and millions of landmines strewn over the countryside.
It took an international effort to clear the land of the Khmer of such ordnance and I am glad to see that the "Danger - Landmines" signboards are no longer dotted around the area.
The country is at peace and people have moved on to progress and at the same time, heal from the years of conflict..

You can view a video sampling of their folk music. The man was kind enough to allow me to capture the moments. This was captured when we left the Phrea Khan temple. We contributed a small amount for their effort..

Down time..

We were cruising towards East Baray and I felt my front tire going rather sluggish.
"Stop! I have a punture," I told Michelle.
"Where got la!," she responded.
I flagged her down and pushed the lame bike towards a small hut. There were some locals there and one of the ladies were so nice, she actually went down to a small stream to scoop up some water for me.
I took out the front wheel and inspected the inner tube. Seems that there was a leak on the tube facing the spokes.
Rather than wasting time patching it (all my patches had melted down due to humidity), I had the tube replaced.
We had time to rest and recover as we moved to another temple complex in the area.
While cycling around the the Baray area, I noticed that my average moving speed was around 6km/h.
Something was terribly wrong.
Later, I realized that the the rear hub was experiencing "brake drag" (possibly due to bad disk alignment on the hydraulic brake's calipers) and that really sapped the energy out of me.

The last temple on our route..

Getting the fix on our location.. 
On the road, we overtook a couple of white guys on their rented bikes.
Seems that they were annoyed and rode like a bat out of hell.
Along the Baray route, we also came across a family of cyclists. They were wearing helmets and we waved to greet them.
On the entire route, we were the only people cycling on our folding bikes..
Michelle went on to check out the Jayatatanka ruins while I took a rest and filled up my water bottle at a stall opposite the temple.
We resumed our journey back to Angkor Wat later..

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