Old stones can fascinate, especially if they were worked on and stacked at times that are foreign to us and far away from today. If there is also a slightly mystical environment, then the temple complexes that are present here in large numbers at Siem Reap and distributed in a very wide area have a double effect.
It makes a difference whether I am walking through the imposing complex of Angkor Wat, surrounded by a square of water laid out like the temple itself and embedded in a subtropical jungle, through one of the entrance gates of the former capital of the Khmer Empire, or whether I am taking a walk look at the Cologne Cathedral in the middle of Cologne. Although it is older and of course also impressive.
In the Angkor Archaeological Park there are a number of temples built in the Middle Ages and the surrounding complexes, some even older than the most important temple Angkor Wat, as well as parts of the former royal palace and the capital of the Khmer empire. But this park is fascinating because of its size. The huge area, which is still partially overgrown by jungle, quickly makes you forget the here-and-now, especially at the more remote temples such as the Ta Nei or the Preah Khan temple, which have decayed to a higher degree. At the Ta Nei temple in particular, you are almost alone with one of the park guards, while at Angkor Wat or at the Ta Phrom temple, visitors step on each other’s feet.
The usual means of transport in the park is the tuk tuk or motorcycle with a coach trailer, as well as many minibuses, because large touring coaches cannot reach all corners due to the sometimes narrow streets. But a bicycle is also ideal and there are many tour organizers in Siem Reap who also rent bicycles. Simple bikes that are modeled on Dutch bikes up to mountain bikes of quite good quality, but they are used by only a fraction of the visitors. From Siem Reaps center it is only about 7 km to the park, about 8.5 km to the main entrance of Angkor Wat, but if you want to explore more temples, even a small round, you quickly add about 25 – 30 km and you still haven’t seen much.
If you have to buy a ticket first (which is the normal case), then you have to add about 5 kilometers, because the ticket sale takes place at a fairly new visitor center, which is, however, outrageously far from the access road. However, there is hardly a place at the park borders that can handle the current flow of visitors – and the trend is rising.
As I said at the beginning: the stones are fascinating. I myself am always available for something like that and have now traveled about 32 – 38 kilometers at each of my four visits to Angkor Park.
Here are just a few more impressions …