Published on February 23rd, 2011 | by Ann Rickard0
Temple Fatigue – Angkor Wat
Travelling in Asia can sometimes bring on a bout of temple fatigue. It’s not that temples are not interesting; it’s just that there are so very many of them.
No matter how many pagodas, shrines or places of worship you’ve inspected, the first glimpse of Angkor Wat has your flagging vitality bubbling up to the surface once more.
People come from all corners of the world to visit the temple complex of Angkor Wat in the Angkor Archaeological Park, about five kilometres and just $2 tuk tuk ride from Siem Reap in Cambodia.
These ancient structures were built in the 12th century for King Suryavarman II, and are simply wondrous. . Despite car parks full of giant buses, hordes of tourists and local kids peddling everything from postcards to grilled meats, there is still an overwhelming feeling of Angkor Wat’s grandeur.
If you really want a detailed history, a guide is essential as there are not many signs and no audio appliances to hire – but for us it was thrill enough to wander and look up to the carvings, the sculptural decorations, the tall towers and massive stone faces, to wander the vast grounds and enjoy the serenity exuded by the monks in their orange robes..
After a visit, if you’re still fresh and not templed-out, Angkor Thom and the Bayon Temple are just as riveting.
If you have the luxury of more than a few days to spend in Siem Reap it might be best to have a temple-free day and enjoy the city’s many charms in between history and culture.
The Cambodians are gentle and friendly and there is always a tuk tuk driver within arms length to transport you slowly along the city’s shaded boulevards or take you wherever you want to go, all for just a couple of dollars.
A morning at the Old Market will have you snapping up unbeatable bargains in clothing and silver, and a night along Pub Street with his lively restaurants and bars will give you some fascinating people-watching.
We stayed at the Sofitel Angkor Phokeethra Golf & Spa Resort, enveloped in luxury with the resort’s Khmer and French architecture and furnishings. We arrived the day of the Siem Reap Half Marathon, and while the large number of fitness fanatics in town made us feel guilty, it took us only minutes to forget them and laze.
Nothing was going to stop us indulging in resort’s lake-landscaped gardens and free-form pool or perhaps visiting the day spa.
We quickly became used to the gentle greetings of the staff and the sixth sense they all had to anticipate our comings and goings – always there to open a door, carry a shopping bag, help us in and out of a tuk tuk.
At night the resort’s gardens became a fantasy of fairy lights entwined in trees and shrubs and while we were content to sit on our veranda looking at the twinkling sea of lights, there was a cocktail and a pianist waiting in the resort’s Explorer’s Tale bar and a Khmer barbecue banquet and cultural show in the garden restaurant.
So you see? History and culture are one thing, martinis and massages another. Combine the two and you’ll never suffer from temple fatigue.
If you go:
Sofitel Angkor Phokeethra Golf & Spa Resort,
Siem Reap, Cambodia: www.sofitel.com