Trip Start Jul 15, 2009
18Trip End Aug 20, 2009
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I've been contemplating just the right words to express the wonder of this architectural beauty. I'm convinced there simply are no words. Walking up the stone causeway to the main entrance was simply surreal - I was having such a difficult time fathoming the image before me - an image that I've only seen in books and of course, on the Cambodian flag. Once past the main entrance, palm trees sway in front of the main towers that were built to resemble Mount Meru - the heavenly mountain where Indian god's reside - the Indian Mount Olympus, one can say. The grounds within the wat's stone perimeter are flat, green, and grassy. Blocks of limestone are strewn randomly across the ground, and small ponds have formed due to heavy rainfall. As you walk closer to the monumental beast, it becomes even more evident why construction took more than 30 years and you are easily convinced that Angkor wat is the largest religious monument ever built.
Climb the crumbling, steep steps, pass the stone lion guardians, and you finally reach the cool quarters of the outer gallery. The walls are decorated with Aspara dancers, heavenly beauties, decked out in jewels and colorful silk, whose sole reason for living was to have eternal sex with heroes and holy men. These topless figures become the main subject of my amateur photo shoot.
Moving further into the depths of the temple, you come to the main sanctuary where only priests or servants of the gods were permitted; now tourists roam the dark interior, forever craning their necks to see what towers before them. Further still, you may exit the rear of the wat and stroll through a wooded area that extends as far as the eye can see. We decide to walk the exterior of the building and view the intricate reliefs carved into the outer walls of the building. This stretch of wall, known to be the longest continuous relief in the world, depict tales of Hindu mythology.
Our next stop was the runner up in my temple favs - Bayon Temple - a three-tiered pyramid temple, with towers adorned with meditative faces, eyes closed, lips slightly smiling. I can't help but smile every time I come before one of the 2000 large faces carved into the structure.
After visiting a few smaller temples, we come to my absolute favorite temple on the Angkor complex - Ta Prohm - the obvious inspiration for the Indiana Jones movies. In the depths of a dense jungled area, Ta Prohm sits scattered about - blocks of moss covered sandstone lie in mounds, broken statues, many with severed heads, lean toppled over. Most astounding however, are the enormous banyan trees towering above the structure, their roots crawling and seeping over the walls of Ta Prohm. Roots, vines and vegetation creep over doorways, snake their way through holes in the ceiling and pry their way up through the floors of the temple. I am enthralled.
Again, words can not express the beauty witnessed and the significance of the moments spent at these historical sites. Simply breath-taking! Phenomenal and astounding! Even these words don't do justice, nor do the pictures...but it's a start, until it's your turn!
Where I stayed