Like Machu Picchu, the Ayah Sofia, and Tikal, the temples of Angkor more than live up to their reputation. It’s one of those places where you get there and look around and have a hard time believing it’s real.
The temple complex, which is the largest in the world (way bigger than Tikal), was built by the Khmer kings between the 10th and 12th Centuries. The temples were part of a much larger city — population around 1 million, while London was somewhere around 55,000 — but the mostly wooden city has since vanished, leaving only the stone temples.
We visited three of the largest and most popular temples today: Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom (which includes Bayon, the one with all the faces), and Ta Prohm (the temple famously featured in Tomb Raider). I’m not going to do a full write-up tonight — we’re getting up at 4:00am so we can watch the sun rise over Angkor Wat (the largest temple in the group) — but here are a few of the highlights from today.
Eastern facade of Angkor Wat
There are 54 towers in the temple of Bayon, each one with four smiling Buddha faces.
Part of the Terrace of the Elephants. Note how the elephants hold clumps of lotus flowers in their trunks.
This is part of the temple where Tomb Raider was filmed. It was, by far, the most crowded of all the temples we visited today.
We fought long and hard with the Chinese tourists to get this shot. Seriously. They’re like herds of kindergartners with ADD who don’t have any sense of personal space and who never got the memo about how to wait in line. They made me want to die (until I ate a granola bar and regained perspective; then I just wanted them to die (which, now that I think about it isn’t really much of an improvement, but it felt like progress at the time)).
Vanessa and our guide inside one of the corridors in Angkor Wat
One of the libraries in Angkor Wat
Detail of the pillars that served as blinds in the windows.
Central building of Angkor Wat
P.S. Depending on how things go over the next 48 hours, this may be the last post from abroad. We’ll spend all the day tomorrow back at Angkor visiting more temples, and then we’ll go straight to the airport. We fly separately to Seoul around midnight and then continue separately to Chicago and DC. With any luck, I’ll be back home around noon on Sunday. I’m hoping there will be good WiFi connections in the airports, but if not, I’ll see you back in the States!