Our first glimpse of Angkor Wat was just minutes after we landed at the Siem Reap airport, as our driver decided to take the scenic route to our hotel. We stopped outside the main gate of the temple and I tried to take some photos using the telephoto lens from 500+ meters away across a moat in near pitch darkness. Despite the distance and limited lighting, this monument was clearly something very special. This magnificent Hindu temple was constructed in the mid-12th century and it’s sprawling grounds and humongous moat make it THE temple of many around Siem Reap to visit. We saved this one for last, and it did not disappoint. It has three pyramid type structures which rise some 200 feet above ground level, all in stone. Set out over a very flat “island” within a man-made moat, it is reminiscent of a large estate from the West, albeit with the stunning stone carvings and architectural details so unique to that part of Indochina.
The walk from the parking area to over a restored bridge and across the huge moat takes several minutes, then once inside the temple grounds, it is several hundred more meters to the temple proper.
We caught glimpses of several monks in their stunning saffron orange robes visiting the temple and I briefly wondered what I would look like swathed in orange cotton… how do they go do a number 1 in the CR?
The carvings, and more importantly the VOLUME of stone carvings all over the temple are mind-boggling. I think I would go insane if I had to spend my entire lifetime chipping away at stone for someone else’s amusement. But at least they are still being appreciated by millions nearly a thousand years later!
A pond full of lotus flowers made for a very stunning photograph with the temple reflected on still waters…
Long balconies or hallways open to the outdoors housed hundreds if not thousands of feet of wall carvings, all with stories to tell (frankly, I was so over-templed at this point I wasn’t listening to the guide)!
The shiny parts of the carvings are due to the oils from people’s fingers when they drag their hands across the stone carvings.
If I had spent a few weeks or months carving this piece and at the last minute chipped off the dudette’s nose or worse yet, her boobs were unbalanced, I would definitely consider a free fall plunge from the top of the temple’s highest tower!
If I had this many arms and hands…
…then I would go deaf as I pounded my chest in the “echo room” which recently appeared as one of the destinations in a recent episode of Amazing Race Asia. The kid so wanted to see this room, which has a very high ceiling, and if you stand against one of two opposite walls and look up and thump your chest, you get lots of echoing thumps back. It was pretty cool actually. I was too respectful to attempt my Tarzan like yell (it’s a pretty decent version of the original) in the chamber that afternoon. Don’t want to mess with the gods…
One of the enclosed lawns or gardens on the side of the temple.
A view of the front of the temple.
Oh, and I can’t forget the swimming pool, one of many inside the main temple. It must have been closed for renovation as it was drained of water. But imagine diving head first into that? Facial plastic surgery for sure. Overall, an UTTERLY STUNNING experience, if a bit tiring to behold all of it! :)