Friday, November 17, 2006

Angkor Wat?

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Gorgeous Angkor Wat! I never dreamed I would see this in person!

We decided to do most of our sightseeing on the first 3 days of our visit. You can buy a 3 day temple pass which give you access to all of the temples in and around Siem Reap. I have always wanted to see the very famous Angkor Wat temple, so of course that was the first one we visited. We went out to the temple around 5 pm in the evening to buy the pass that would get us in during sunset plus give us a full 3 days to see all of the temples. We were able to to walk around the outside of the temple for about an hour before sunset. We were able to get these great photos.

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The causeway up to the temple.

The day after we picked up the tickets we headed to explore the temple first thing. It was amazing and beautiful. It was also a very hot and humid day with lots of tourist trying to check out the most popular of the Khemer temples. There was beautiful scenery and the stone carving was just magnificent! I just can't imagine how long it took to move the sandstone and carve the temple in such intricate detail.

Here is a bit of history behind Angkor Wat:

Regarded as the supreme masterpiece of Khmer architecture, it is a huge pyramid temple built by Suryavarman II between 1113 A.D. and 1150 A.D. It is surrounded by a moat 570 feet wide and about four miles long. The mass of bas-relief carving is of the highest quality and the most beautifully executed in Angkor.


Here we are before we walk into the main part of the temple.

An interesting fact about the temple is by 1431 Angkor Wat was abandoned and it wasn't until 1860 it was rediscovered again by a French botanist.


A view from inside the temple.


To get to the top of most parts of the temple you had to climb these 75 degree angle stairs. We didn't even attempt it here.


There was a handrail by these stairs, so we decided to try our luck.


Here are the kids trying to meet Jonny who is coming down the stairs.



Jonny climbing down.


A view from the top of the stairs.


A view of the backside of the front of the temple from the top of the stairs.


After our tour we had our pictures taken with some Hindu gods.

I have to say when we were in Siem Reap I was surprised by all the tourist. I thought we were visiting somewhere unique that not many people have visited. Last week I was surprised to find an article in National Geographic Traveler about UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific, Cultural Organization) World Heritage sites, including Angkor Wat. Angkor Wat rated #32 on the list of Worst Destinations because of mass tourism in the ruins and development. I have read in Time magazine that they also have a huge problem with corruption in their government. I now feel kind of guilty for climbing all over the ruins, but I am glad that magazine's like National Geographic and Time are bringing it to our attention. I just hope that the people who own Angkor Wat, which I believe is not the government, but a very rich Japanese person, do something about the masses of people who try to climb up and down these stairs.


Jill said...

Those pictures are amazing. What an amazing sight.

Maura said...

wow! very cool!

Wil and Jen said...

I read the same article in National Geographic.Someone got me a subscription to it. Thanks by the way. Abby and I sit down together when a new one comes and I read it to her. I really enjoy seeing the pictures of the places you guys have been. Abby likes seeing the pictures too and when I read to her as we look at them.