Angkor by Bike Part Two

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Bangkok, Julio, 2013

Continue of part 1.

My greatest discovery and what many websites, brochures and travel experiences failed to share was that you could ride through history on your own bike. There are paved roads that lead you to the famous temples, but there are also dirt roads that spaghetti their way in and out of the ruins. Riding by bike through these roads is the closest I have felt from feeling like Indiana Jones.

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Annika and I felt like children playing to be Indiana Jones with our bikes in the most exotic and wonderful playground ever. Riding from here to there, discovering corners, arriving to beautiful ruins covered with grass and vegetation.

Our first stop was Angkor Wat the apex creation of the Khmer empire under the orders of Khmer King Suryavarman II in the 12th century. A construction that experts calculate would take 300 yrs in the making if it was done today, the Khmer nailed it in 40 yrs. The Khmer people finished it time so that his founder Suryavarman II could see it complete.

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After that we took a bike stroll towards the other “city” Angkor Thom, which essentially means Great City, a couple of km from Angkor Wat. This capital city was the most enduring of the Khmer empire and was constructed under the religious influence of Buddhism under the reign of the “construction king” King Jayavarman VII in the late 12th century.

We only had a taste for what was about to come, two more days to visit the Angkor by bike.

With a three day pass, you have the opportunity to visit Angkor in a period of 7 days. So we took it slow, I got ill on the first day we visited Angkor unfortunately. However at the first sign of recovery we took the bikes again and visited the complex.

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In total we cycled more than 70 km inside the city in a period of three days. We arrived by bike along the most famous constructions such as The Bayon. A Buddhist temple erected y King Jayavarman VII and it is very famous for the giant Buddha faces carved in its towers all facing the 4 cardinal points.

We also visited the temples and monasteries made famous by the overtaking of nature, the roots of massive trees devouring the ruins. Sadly one of the most famous monasteries Ta Prohm is referred to by many tourists as the “Tomb Raider temple” in connection to the famous film starred by Angelina Jolie in 2001, setting aside its historical importance as the only temple build in honor of Jayavarman’s mother Preah Khan.

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And so we spent cycling in and out of ruins overtaken by nature and temples once built to honor the Gods and Icons of two of the mayor religions in the world: Buddhism and Hinduism. While cycling it was easier for me to imagine the life on this place. There were areas where you could just park your bike and sit in the middle of ruins and nature. Another thing seldom mentioned in brochures and internet is that Cambodians actually live inside the park. There are villages and houses further northeast of the main complex that inhabit people, most of them who work inside the park as well. Either selling souvenirs, drawings, fruits or food .

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We also saw locals sitting down enjoying their meal, students reading their books as well as riding their bikes inside the complex. I had the feeling that they felt proud of their legacy, it made me feel happy for them. The recent history of these people is a dark one, but as great civilizations have shown all through the world is that where there is truth and a strong legacy, the people will always prevail.

In the end we had the fun of a lifetime. It was classy, it was adventurous, it was marvelous, it was unforgettable. Heck it was Angkor by bike.

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  1. Hector says:

    Wonderful pictures, thanks for sharing

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