© Bartay | All Rights Reserved

The Temples at Angkor Wat

Trying to imagine what some of these places looked like over 1,000 years ago can be a bit difficult at times. With Mother Nature doing her thing, theft, the vandalism, the thousands of people walking through every day over the last three or four decades, it is in remarkable shape. The entire Angkor Regional Park area is huge, covering some 150 plus square miles. The Angkorian period spans from the 9th to 15th centuries and brought the Khmer empire to be one of the greatest in Southeast Asia.

Angkor Wat is the most famous and the best kept of all the temples. It is also the world’s largest surviving religious building. The largest most complete ‘city’ would be Angkor Thom where in its day, there were one million living inside its walled area. King Suryavarman II lived here while building Angkor Wat just a few kilometers down the road.

The area and temples are being renovated with monetary help from Germany and India. I am going to say I come from the school of ‘leave it alone’. In another thousand years it will still be here, so let Mother Nature do her thing and leave it be. I understand the necessity of safety with the thousands of tourists, but I’d prefer to see the crumbling stones and weathered facades over new patches of limestone. They have only begun the process, about 3 or 4 years ago, so they have a very long way to go.

So I met Lysang early one morning at my guesthouse, he was going to be with me for a couple of days showing me around and explaining its history. I explained to Lysang during our tuk tuk ride out to the area north of Siem Reap, I really wanted to take pictures. He was cautious and tentative during our conversation but as we talked and he understood where I came from, he really opened up. We had a great time over 2 days talking about Cambodia, it’s people, it’s problems, and as he put it “his king” who was cremated three weeks ago.

Lysang has been guiding people around Angkor for over 10 years and knew almost everyone out there, so it was great. He’d take me off the beaten path and we would sneak around to where others were roped off. We’d stop and talk to the workers and on the second day it seems I created a bit of raucous when I insisted that he and our tuk tuk driver sit down and eat lunch with me. Seems that’s just not done, but I don’t like eating alone and I wanted to buy them lunch and a beer. I insisted!

The entire area was built out of limestone from a quarry some 25 miles northeast of here. So how did they get those stones here and build these so high? Same quandary as the pyramids. So I am presuming in its day it was very grey, the colour of new limestone with the green of the jungle and forest and the blue of the water. Now after a thousand years, Mother Nature’s hand of rain, moss, lichen, and the acid rain of late it is a very different place.

The temples are very high and the steps are very steep with high steps, so there is a lot climbing sideways. I did climb all the way to the top of over 14 temples in two days and it was HOT. Thankfully I live in a 5th floor walk-up so I was in shape!

So I think I will just leave you to wander through a few of the temples…

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  ( All Blog Post Photos:  © Bartay )

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A beautiful carved Deveta.

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There is a very long earth causeway that crosses the moat and leads up to Angkor Wat. It was so hot and the direct sun is so brutal, there were two young Khmer boys jumping off the causeway into the moat to cool off or rather they were pushing each other off! Then they would climb back up and do it again.

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I was walking through Ta Prohm and I heard this very loud scream. I ran around the corner and this young Australian woman was totally out of breath. She had just turned a corner and ran into this little beauty. Now the body is about 3 inches long so leg tip to leg tip is over 10 inches!

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Even after 1,000 years and shifting limestone blocks, the beauty is still there.

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Near the end of the day I was so hot, so I snuck around a building to go down to one of the reservoirs and saw a group of young kids playing in the water. Then this one young girl about 11 showed me how young kids in Cambodia fish… they just look for them!

 

 

 

 

This entry was posted in Cambodia.

2 Comments

  1. Maria Epes February 25, 2013 at 9:33 pm #

    Wow what a truly spectacular journey…. thank you for sharing all those facts, your exquisite photos, and your adventure. I had no idea that it was so large. And all of that at such a scale built in such heat! Most of all, so incredible that so much is still there. Leave it to you to to be able to connect with the locals!!

  2. Jennifer February 28, 2013 at 3:10 am #

    I’m with you – just leave it be! It is so gorgeous – it seems as much from nature as the trees wrapping around it. Just beautiful! And I can imagine the ruckus you created – but that’s nothing new for you in your travels, I’m sure!

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