It is really hard to talk about the temples of the Angkor Wat complex. Everything is so huge in scale. This was a highly developed civilization, supporting as many as a million people back when London May have had 50,000.
Kings being kings they wanted to build things and to be remembered. The empire of these kings did not endure and the great cities were abandoned. People still lived amongst the ruins and knew of the vast lost cities. When Europeans were colonizing south east Asia they ‘discovered’ the ruins and began to explore.
It should be noted that the 20th century was a huge challenge for Cambodia and its people. They have persevered and worked hard to create a better future for themselves and that effort has included preserving their storied past.
Part of the impact of the place is the size. The main temple at Angkor Wat is huge. Pictures hardly do it justice.
And everywhere the carvings. A full panoply of Hindu gods and attendants, images of Buddha. Some in good repair, some not so much. But that any of it has been reclaimed from the jungle is amazing.
We had a wonderful guide who could tell us all about what we were seeing. He also knew all the best places for pictures and how to use features if our phone cameras that we didn’t know about.
Like this picture, taken at the exact centre of this complex looking up into the vault.
And look what you can do with the pano feature of an iPhone!
Truth be told the heat nearly did us in. But a delicious lunch and a rest had us ready to go again.
Next up – the temple of the trees. Famous for being itself, then famous again when Angelina Jolie dropped in to film the first ‘Tomb Raider’ movie. It’s pretty cool!
Last up for day one was Bayon, famous for the faces carved into the towers.
On our second day we went to see the pink temple which turned out to be a little jewel. Smaller in scale it was constructed mostly of a fine grain pink sandstone, which allows for incredibly detailed carvings.
You could spend a lot of time roaming from temple to temple – these pictures are only a portion of what we saw.
As I’ve mentioned before tourism has taken a tremendous hit during the coronavirus situation- as much as a 70% drop in tourists in this area. Huge parking lots with no buses, temples with no lines, vendors with huge unsold inventories. It really brings home how connected we all are and how an event in one place can send ripples out in many many directions.
This is where I give my pitch – hire local guides! They know so much and care so much. Guidebooks are great, but we learned so much from our guide Mr Sim. In a country with such a turbulent history it was really wonderful to sit down on a ledge of a temple that is a thousand years old and hear the story of the temple and the story of the man telling it.