We know what it takes to get to Angkor Wat. We traveled halfway around the world at some expense. So, why race through Angkor in a day? Lesson 2 for visiting a major site: take your time.
We bought passes that allowed us entrance to the entire Angkor Archaeological Park for seven days over the 2-weeks we were there. The Park encompasses several dozen sites, and scores of other sites are scattered around the nearby countryside. We didn’t visit the Archaeological Park every day, and, when we did go out, we focused on 1 to 3 sites for that day.
Lingering helps. At Ta Som, crowds took a quick look at the area nearest the road, returned to their vehicles, and then raced on to the next site. We didn’t follow them. Instead, we continued to explore with a handful of other tourists and were rewarded with this view at the point furthest from the road:
When crowds of tour groups impeded our views, we paused, engaged in people-watching, slowed our pace, and spent timing observing till a group passed. How else would we have seen the flowers growing by the sculptural relief?
On our last visit we explored several sites and found we had time and energy for one more. Our tuk tuk driver suggested the Terrace of the Leper King. Somehow we managed to find a narrow dark passageway – haunting and different from all the other sites we’d visited.
The Terrace may have been built as a funeral site for the King.
As we studied the faces we saw a strange white “X” in front of one of the sculptures about 6’ off the ground. We looked around and saw another “X” a few feet away. What were these, an archeologist’s mark?
At dinner that night our son-in-law solved the mystery: St Andrew cross spiders.
If you are fortunate enough to travel to Angkor Wat, schedule more than a day or two. We discovered seven visits over two weeks was just not enough time for us.
“Lessons for visiting major tourist sites” is a 3-post series. This was the 2nd post.