Angkor Wat - One Part of the Angkor Complex

Trip Start Aug 04, 2009
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Cambodia  ,
Thursday, October 29, 2009

Upon arrival in Siem Reap we were greeted by a friendly Cambodian
gentleman whom we quickly learned was to be our driver to our hotel.
Along the way we negotiated a good price for him to be our
guide/driver for the days we were to be there. Mr. Nheam ended up
being one of our best investments as he took us anywhere we wanted to
go even on short notice and despite the fact that he had plans on
where to take us I of course had a few places that weren’t on his
plan sheet but he was fine with talking us there. He gave us tidbits
of info about the city and region, people, etc, etc, basically
answered all our questions.

So our first day we got up at the crack of dawn actually it was way
before the crack. He picked us up at 5am and we went to the Angkor
Wat area to see the sunrise, along with several other hundred people.
It didn’t seem crowded because of the sheer size of the grounds. I
talked to two women who gave me the inside scoop on buying books,
where to go and what times of day. It became invaluable information
which I utilized to the fullest. I was out of the hotel by 8 am daily
and back by noon at the latest then back out again around 3-ish for
afternoon viewing. By missing the heat of the day it made the day
much more do-able and comfortable. It also allowed me to partake in the inexpensive($12 for a 2 hr massage or $6 for a foot reflexology massage) massage shops all over town. I learned that all the books can be had actually almost everything being sold in the area’s can be
had for about $1. So I started off by getting a 2009 copyright guide
book (list price $28) for $1 – ‘Ancient Angkor’. It broke down
all the areas of Angkor by direction ie. – Central Angkor,
Northeastern Angkor and so on. Each section then was listed as to
what was in those areas including color photos, historic info,
religious significance and the like. It has maps and area breakdowns
by quadrant – pretty much everything my friend Bruce would drool
over for months to come. I actually found myself sitting up at night
poring over the pages myself.

I got all kinds of little leather bracelets and baubles to reward the
kids with and to quiet the Vn assts who I know will ask what I
brought back for them – 10 for $1. An Angkor Wat t-shirt for $1,
although that took a lot more bargaining to get. Then I “splurged(?)”
and bought a paper thin white cotton shirt to wear here in the
blazing heat of summer. That cost me a whopping $3 and finally my
biggest purchase, in town was a 100% silk short sleeve dress/casual
traditional Cambodian shirt for $6.

Ok enough of the shopping deals and on to the sights – the first set
of photos are at Angkor Wat for sunrise. It was kinda cloudy so it
wasn’t the best of sunrise photos but it’s still a highly
impressive area overall. Since I noticed it wasn’t going to be a
great sunrise I began to roam in and out of the many rooms in the
first building or as the book calls “it the gallery of Bas
reliefs”, it has over 600 m of narrative bas reliefs.

 *Let me just say this up front, these photos do it no justice for the
sheer beauty, magnitude and unbelievable amount of work that the
Khmers put into this area or as I overheard from one of the guides
say “Angkor Wat is the worlds largest religious monument”. That
in and of itself is pretty damn impressive but seeing it in person is
a major WOW!

The outer limits of Angkor Wat is set off by a broad moat and it’s the
largest temple at Angkor. The temple, whose moat, enclosures and
towers are said to represent the Universe. Angkor Wat was built as
both the capital and the State Temple dedicated to the god Vishnu.

 The bas-reliefs found throughout are one of the most famous creations of Khmer art. Most of the subject matter relate to Hindu epics, several
include huge battle scenes such as the Battle of Kurukshetra and
Battle of Lanka. The bas -reliefs of the Battle of Kurukshetra starts
out in an orderly fashion with soldiers marching in formation and the
leaders on horse back or elephants and then culminates with hand to
hand battle at the center. Many other stories are told on the walls
of Angkor Wat throughout this entire complex in bas -relief. It
really is a phenomenal undertaking to view it all. To have done the
work had to have been a painstaking ordeal both during its original
time and in recent times to bring it back to near perfect exactness.
While walking in and out and climbing the narrow depth stairs that were
often nearly a straight up climb in many cases it made me think that if one suffers from vertigo climbing these stairs would not be for you. I didn't have any trouble going up but coming down was whole different situation. 
It nearly takes your breath away to see the architectural magnificence of Angkor Wat. 

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kwai_chang on

stone work! Incredible skill. And 42 pics with still no sign of Lara Croft?! I saw the movie--there has to be some dead bodies and shell casings laying around there somewhere. The locals probably picked them up and sold them at a $1 each.

tbray on

Ok...are you TEACHING or learning? You seem to be on a permanent vacation.

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