While the splendor of Bayon is difficult to match,Bapuon sits quietly proud in the same spot where it all started.This was the exact site that marked the center of the capital that existed (and apparently destroyed) before the construction of Angkor Thom.
The long elevated walkway leading to it and the large open space in front of the temple makes for a grand entrance that goes with an elated feeling of excitement.
I saw an old picture of Bapuon in a book with most of the structure (except the uppermost tower) covered with soil and grass on top thereby making it look like a small mountain.Take note that most of the temples in Angkor Complex were created to simulate that of Mount Neru, the Mount Olympus of Hindu faith.It was in bad state when the it was found after the Angkor was abandoned by the Khmer.Restoration efforts are ongoing which mean the temple had to be taken apart piece by piece.Unfortunately, the blueprint was destroyed by the Khmer Rouge during their reign so the process is taking longer.Experts tasked to restore it were left with 300,000 stones to sort out from scratch. A giant gigsaw puzzle on the work.
We were here before noon and Cambodian sun was scorching hot.My friends took refuge at a tree in front of the temple.They were sitting on rocks scattered through the field,rocks disassembled from the temple waiting to be fitted back.
I on the other hand made my way to the stairs leading to the first,second and third levels.These wooden stairs are new additions to facilitate the flow of tourists into the temples.They are quite steep so utmost caution is important.
I didn't quite get the meaning of "temple mountain" until I climbed Bapuon.
One level builds after the other thereby making the inner areas rise similar to that of a mountain with inner courts that could accommodate a few hundred people at a time.
VIEW FROM SUMMIT
I highly suggest you climb Bapuon when you visit rather than just stare at it from the outside.Touching the stones,feeling them on your feet is a different experience.
Of course the reward of the hard climb is the amazing view from the top where you can see the temple spread, the elevated walkway,the rocks piles below, the open field in front and the giant trees enclosing it.The best view from top among the temples we visited.
This was part of our Day Tour of Angkor Complex which lasted from 5am-2pm.
Tuktuks are everywhere so it's pretty easy.You can randomly call one and negotiate.As long as you don't go far from $20, that's ok. If you arrive at night (like we did) I would suggest you contact the tuktuk driver who will take you to your hotel.Especially if you are planning for an early departure for sunrise.
**GOLDEN TEMPLE VILLA Siem Reap: Small hotel with a BIG Statement
**KHEMER SOUR SOUP, Cambodian Noodle w/ Curry at PAI SAN RESTAURANT Siem Reap
**the "Mother of All Temples" that is ANGKOR WAT
**The "annoyingly annoying" RESTAURANT BARKERS at Angkot Wat
**the "Forest of Face Towers" that is BAYON TEMPLE