There’s more to Angkor Thom than the smiling faces of Bayon.
Some of these are quite interesting, but unfortunately we couldn’t explore much as the afternoon heat was too much for us to take. We even decided to skip one of the temples (Phimeanakas) entirely, despite it having a badass backstory:
Legend has it that the golden tower crowned was inhabited by a serpent which would transform into a woman. Every Angkorian kings were required to make love with the serpent every night, failing of which disaster would befall him or the kingdom.
Too bad I have no picture of Phimeanakas to share, but here are a few other Angkor Thom jewels for your viewing pleasure:
Baphuon: World’s Largest 3D Jigsaw Puzzle
Baphuon is a three-tiered temple mountain dedicated to the Hindu God Shiva. Much of the temple had already collapsed when it was first found, but with decades of painstaking works, Cambodian restorers managed to piece everything back.
Kudos! Imagine how much efforts are being put into the restoration. The temple is most certainly one of the world’s largest 3D jigsaw puzzle. After climbing the first set of stairs, I walked around the site and discovered that there are even MORE stairs to climb. With no shades to protect me from the sun, I finally gave up ascending.
A few minutes later, a tourist came down out of breath, telling us that the temple is much taller than he had expected!
Terrace of the Elephants
This 350-meter long terrace wall is adorned with carved elephants and garudas spanning the front of the Royal Palace area of Angkor Thom. The terrace was used by king Jayavarman VII as a platform from which to view his victorious returning army.
Only the foundation platforms of the terrace remains, so it doesn’t look very tall. But standing alongside the lion statues up there, we can imagine how it feels like to be part of the royal family of the then-thriving Khmer Empire.
Terrace of the Leper King
This terrace got its name due to the discoloration and moss growing which is reminiscent of a person with leprosy. However, there is no other historical foundation to why the terrace is called as such. The U-shaped structure and the presence of a ‘God of Death’ statue leads some to suggest that this is actually as a royal cremation site.
What are your favorite attractions in the Angkor Thom area?