I was greeted by the four faces of the Buddha at the South gate of Angkor Thom. The entrance was surrounded by statues on both sides. I noticed some of them were headless. I walked to the other side to meet the tuktuk driver who will take me to Angkor Thom Complex. I couldn’t help but stare into a couple enjoying the elephant ride. I wanted to experience the elephant ride but I was hesitant due to limited time. The driver handed me the map and told me he’ll wait outside the terrace of the leper king. I nodded despite having no idea what it was until I figured it out on the map.
I gazed unto the gigantic faces of the Buddha and exclaimed “what a temple!” Bayon Temple is by far the most amazing temple I’ve ever seen. No exaggeration intended. It seems to me that it was outshined by Angkor Wat’s beauty. Bayon is officially my favorite among the temples of Wat. Everywhere I turned I am fascinated by the smiling faces of the Buddhas and there is this weird feeling being inside the temple that draws not only my eyes but my camera to every part of the temple.
The stones were scattered all over the temple. It’s a mesmerizing ruin. I could imagine how beautiful the temple was in its blooming days. There were statues carved into the stone. The stone details were very impressive. It was as if people during those times were extraordinarily artistic and creative. I wondered how they fashioned it with Buddhas and statues on it. While exploring the temple, I saw Jemima a fellow Filipina I met in transit from Ho Chi Minh City to Siem Reap. She and a couple of Koreans had a guide. She and their guide invited me to join them. To be honest, I didn’t pay attention to the tour guide. I on the other hand was busy capturing whatever details I can incarcerate. It puzzled me why most people were lining up to pose and pout their lips when I realized they were actually on photo op trick to kiss a Buddha as their background and out of curiosity Jemima and I found ourselves lining up!
I wobbled upon a handful of Aspara people dressed in a traditional Khmer costumes and with no questions asked I signed up for a one dollar three shots hand poses with them. I split up with Jemima’s group since the Koreans were complaining why I joined their group when in the first place I didn’t pay the tour. So I decided to continue exploring the rest of the temples on my own. Jemima apologized when in fact she doesn’t need to. She’s very nice and we agreed to meet at Pub Street later that day. Navigating around the Bayon temple’s hedges was like playing a maze that puzzles one’s mind to find its path. There was a housing of Buddha inside with incense sticks around him. The lady smiled at me, grabbed my hand and handed me the sticks. I didn’t know I need to pay for it. She insisted that I donate as if I didn’t have a choice. From that day forward, I refused whatever a local offers me.
Bayon Temple remains a mystery to me. The faces, the carvings on the walls, the ruins, and the structure leave a marvelous impression to me. It was as if I am toasted under the scorching sun but the water was enough to quench my thirst. Thanks to Apol of Wanderfultogether.com for the heads up that the drinks inside the Angkor are totally expensive. Even the food was pricey. The charming view of the temple simply knocked me off. I never heard about Bayon before and surprisingly it became one of the highlights of my entire temple exploration. Truly Bayon will always be my much loved temple.