Finally… Siem Reap, Cambodia!

Angkor Wat

 If you’ve seen Tomb Raider or Indiana Jones Temple of Doom, or played the game Temple Run, then these structures probably look familiar to you. That’s because both of those movies were filmed here, and the game modeled after these structures. Pretty amazing isn’t it?

When I was younger, I saw documentaries on Angkor Wat on TV. I’ve also seen it on the cover of magazines, and I’ve read about it in my college textbooks, but seeing it in person was a totally different experience. I was unprepared, by the grand size of it, the intricacy of the carvings, and the grandeur of its hallways and arches. Almost everywhere I looked, there was some kind of story carved onto the walls, and you just can’t help but stand in awe, wondering how long it took and what exactly went on in these buildings. I attempted to capture some of its beauty through photos, but needless to say, they do not do justice.

From afar.

 I don’t feel quite qualified to give a history lesson on the temples, but what you need to know to understand its significance, is that it was once an ancient city of up to a million inhabitants of the Khmer Empire. The complex dates back to the 9th-13th century, and contains over 1000 temples that span across an area larger than New York’s five boroughs. Today it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and Angkor Wat is just one of the many magnificent buildings within the site. All of the artwork contained within the temples depict an evolution of Indian subcontinent art from Hindu deities to war stories. Here’s the link to the official UNESCO webpage if you’d like to know more.

Angkor Wat, the most well known temple amongst many in the area.
This temple alone stretches across a few blocks.

The main entrance of the temple.

One of the many carved murals in the temple.

A war story?

Depiction of deities.

Columns on a window.

A library nearby.

It keeps going.

One of the many areas in the complex under reconstruction.

Another temple nearby.

This temple was completely overrun by trees.

Nature and temple have become one.

These tree trucks were pretty scary looking…

These trees were huge.

Another thing that struck me while walking through the temples, was the number of sites under reconstruction. Unfortunately, due to the hot and humid climate of the area, and the amount of visitors to this site, the temples are rapidly falling apart. Despite the staff’s best efforts to reconstruct it, I’m afraid by the look of it, they may not be able to catch up with all the damages. It’s saddening to think, but I’m not sure how many more generations will be able to visit this site before it’s all gone.

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