Saturday, August 06, 2016

Angkor Wat

Of the several impressive ancient Khmer temples scattered around Cambodia, we saved the best for last.

Just to the north of the present day city of Siem Reap in the jungle flatlands was the seat of the complex Khmer society of centuries ago. Discovered antiquities pop out of the steamy overgrowth here and there, over many square kilometres. The uncovered sites are mostly impressive temples that were the focal point of those prosperous people and as further evidence of their industriousness are the remains of a lengthy labyrinth of man-made canals and lakes.

The most magnificent of these temple edifices is Angkor Wat and is distinct not only for its size (just over 162 ha) and intricate and complex stonework but for its intact condition. Words, and for that matter, pictures, cannot capture the scope and wonder of it all.

We travelled on our motorcycle on paved roads with the rest of the tourist traffic from one prodigious ruin site to another of the Angkor area, each in various forms and features and in various degrees of ruin such as Angkor Thom, Banteay Kdei, Ta Prohm, Bayon, etc.

Approaching the Angkor complex

Over 3,000 nymphs carved into walls of Angkor Wat

Walking down the outside wall of...

...800 metres of intricate and astonishing bas-reliefs (carvings)

Inner area, outside of a temple

One of Angkor Wat's towers

Made of mostly sandstone, the thousands and thousands of tourist footsteps are slowly causing erosion. Steps are being taken to try to preserve this UNESCO World Heritage site.

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