Tuesday, April 11, 2023

Angkor Wat and other historic Cambodian temples

After a heartening visit with the kids of Heartprint, I rested up for a big day at the biggest religious site in the world.

Angkor Wat, by the numbers:

(Not numbers you can find elsewhere—years built, size in acres, amount of structures, year abandoned, etc. Rather numbers of my personal experience.)

  • time I woke: 4:30 am for a 5 am departure
  • time we arrived at Angkor Wat: 5:15 am
  • time we left: 12:45 pm
  • number of photos I took: 752
  • number of photos I kept: 261
  • number of steps: many but unsure of the precise amount; I didn’t check that day and now that I’m home, the app recalibrated to my local time zone, which split the steps between two days

leaving my hotel at 5 am

Angkor Wat is not a single building but rather a temple complex. Built in the 12th century, it is the best preserved of the numerous sites from that era in the area, which includes dozens of other temples. 

The site was originally devoted to Hindu worship. Less than 100 years after its construction, it transitioned to Buddhist. Today it is regularly referred to as “Hindu-Buddhist.”

Nearby sites I visited:

  • Angkor Thom, a fortressed royal city also built in the 12th century; home to the Bayon temple (known for its many faces) and the Terrace of the Elephants
  • Ta Prohm Temple (sometimes called the jungle temple and featured in the 2001 film Lara Croft: Tomb Raider)

As noted in my last post, my driver was Peng. My tour guide for all this stunning history was the supremely knowledge Huot. My mood was heightened. 

Hard not to be:

first glimpse of Angkor Wat main complex, 5:36 am

6:02 am

Hout, 6:20 am

first glimpse of sun, 6:24 am

view from one of two libraries (one for men, one for women) 
along path to main complex

7:02 am

view of entance to main complex from stairs of main complex

this was one of four pools (representing water, air, fire, earth)

one of many headless Buddhas
(heads were stolen after the fall of Pol Pot)

bullet holes from the 1970s conflict with Vietnam

view from level 3 (highest level of Angkor Wat)

balloon to give tourists a unique view 
(taken from level 3 of Angkor Wat)

view from level 3 to level 2

walking down from level 3 to level 2

rear of main complex, 8:53 am
(meaning I spent more than three hours there)

Ta Prohm Temple

Look closely...

Yup. A stegosaurus. A DINOSAUR. Depicted in a temple built
in the 12th century. 
Evidence that humans and dinosaurs co-existed?
Conjecture by people of the era about an animal unearthed bones 
could have come from? A cow or another animal 
with palm leaves behind it? Myth? Hoax? 

I think this is South Gate, one of five gates that stood around Angkor Thom.

Terrace of the Elephants;
I was standing in I was told what was once an arena for various
competitions and festivities

a pool that was apparently used for swimming

Bayon Temple

Khmer (long ears) vs. Chinese (short ears) cockfighting

arm wrestling!

back at Angkor Wat for different lighting; 12:35 pm

Angkor Wat comes into view from main entrance

Huot suggested I do this.

back at the hotel; 1:17 pm

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