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Temple Watch: Angkor's peaceful refuges

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Where to go when the temples are crowded?  At busy periods, Angkor can seem so overrun with tourists that it's hard to get away from the crowds. There are a number of places within Angkor that are hardly ever visited and yet have many of the elements of Khmer art, coupled with a peaceful atmosphere. 

No need to stray far from the main temples either, as within Angkor Thom there are lovely sights that  are ignored by most tour groups. The Preah Pithou group is a charming set of pyramid temples in the forest, east of the Terrace of the Elephants. Visitors can still climb these monuments and wander around the forest, enjoying the atmosphere. Behind the 12 towers of the Prasats Sour Prat are the north and south Khleangs, or store houses, and the north Khleang still has its ancient timber lintels.

To the west of the Bayon is the small temple of Prasat Top West. It is marked by traffic bollards to the left on the way down the new road to the west gate. This is a lovely small temple with doorways that lean picturesquely, having been pushed asunder by a huge tree, which once grew out of the top of the tower.

The east gate is the only one of the five Angkor Thom gates that is traffic-free. A further bonus is that it is the most atmospheric of all, especially early or late in the day when it catches the sun's rays.

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