First Glimpse of Angkor and the South Gate of Angkor Thom
The Siem Reap Trip Series
I woke up at 5:30am and was greeted by this.
Heang was picking us up at 7:00am so we could transfer and deposit our things to MotherHome Inn before hitting the temples at 8:00am.
We drove to towards Angkor Archeological Park and got our 3-days in a week temple passes for 40USD each. After we paid, our pictures were taken then waited for our tickets to be printed. We were told not to misplace it as tickets will be checked before we can enter any of the temples.
Our tickets were checked by the APSARA staff before we got in the car. Then, we were off to see the temples.
We passed by Angkor Wat’s moat. I took out my camera and hastily took a picture of it from the car window.
The hastily taken picture of the moat from the car window.
Over the distance, I saw a glimpse of it’s famous spires. The feeling was great. It felt almost surreal that I was finally going to see the temples of Angkor.
The South Gate of Angkor Thom
We reached the South Gate of Angkor Thom where numerous of other tourists are already ahead of us. Despite that, I still marveled at the sight of the gate. Fifty-four Devas (gods) lined the causeway to the left with the same number of Asuras (demons) to the right.
We asked Heang why didn’t the ancient Khmers just line it with the gods on both sides instead. He explained that the good and the evil balanced the creation of the world.
The South Gate of Angkor Thom, lots of tourists.
View of Angkor Thom’s moat.
As I’ve learned later on, each row is holding a naga as if tugging at each other. This may have been taken from a popular Hindu myth, Churning of the Sea of Milk.
The gate itself is adorned by a stone tower carved with faces facing N,S,E and W. Inside, the gate is flanked by a three-headed elephant. Free roaming monkeys are everywhere.
Faces of the gate.
A monkey going about with his own business.
There are actually 5 gates to the city: the North, South, East, West and an additional gate on the eastern side named Victory Gate, where soldiers would enter after winning a war.
Though each of these gates would seemingly be identical, the South Gate is arguably the most popular and photographed as it is the first gate that would greet tourists upon entering to the Angkor Thom complex. Being so, it follows that it is also the most restored.
The gate was already breathtaking, what more could it be inside? This was the start of an exciting (and exhausting) day in Angkor.