Snapshot … Angkor Thom

Those of you who have read my post on Project Hammer will know that I’ve been lucky enough to visit Cambodia on a couple of occasions. Now, I struggle to find anything about Cambodia that I don’t like. I just love it there. But the temples of Angkor would have to rate as one of my favourite places in that stunning country. Angkor Thom was the capital was of the Khmer empire, so it contains quite a lot of temples and cities. It’s located near the current day city of Siem Reap. The ruins (and I should say, not all are ruins, many have been restored) date from the 12th century and have been granted UNESCO World Heritage status, and deservedly so.

I first visited the area in 2005, so my memory is a little hazy but I believe I purchased a three day pass to access the sites. I made my way around to the various structures via a mini bus but if I had my time again, I’d opt for a bicycle I think. It’s such picturesque countryside that cycling around the area would be so relaxing. There was also a balloon (as in, similar to a hot air balloon, but tethered to the ground) that can give you a great aerial perspective over the surrounding landscape, with its buildings dotted throughout.

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Angkor Thom
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Terrace of the Leper King

The first place I visited was the Bayon. It is located in the centre of Angkor Thom. A large temple site, split over three levels, a mixture of terraces and pillars, the predominate feature of which is the 2000-odd faces with look out from the many towers. They face all four compass points – North, South, East & West – surveying all of the Khmer empire. The walls of the lower levels of the Bayon are covered in quite beautifully preserved bas-reliefs.

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Monks at the Bayon
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Relief inside the Bayon
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The Bayon

There’s no doubt that Angkor Wat itself is impressive. You approach via a long pathway, leading straight to the building itself, with its 5 lotus like towers reaching approximately 213 metres from ground level. The complex is surrounded by water, similar to a moat, with lilies gracing the surface. Once you enter the complex, you will find a myriad of steep staircases, galleries, archways, and tiered levels. Engravings cover some of the walls and orange-clad monks roam the open hallways or sit and look out over the views. It couldn’t be more different to Ta Prohm, the next site I saw.

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Angkor Wat
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Inside Angkor Wat
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Sunset over the towers
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From the top of Angkor Wat
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The steep stairs

For people who haven’t traveled to Cambodia or who are unfamiliar with the sites to see there, Ta Prohm is probably going to be the most recognisable of the places in the Angkor complex. It was featured in the movie Tomb Raider, starring Angelina Jolie. I have to say, I find it fascinating. Angkor Thom was all but abandoned in the early 15th century and with nature left to her own devices, the forest gradually reclaimed the area, swallowing up the buildings. It wasn’t until very early in the 20th century that restoration of the site by archaeologists commenced. The beautiful thing about Ta Prohm is that the buildings are still entwined with the trees, their large serpentine roots snaking their way through the structure. And these are no mere weeds … rather enormous trees! There are other temple structures equally as covered by the forest. Beng Mealea is one such site, but it is in more of a ruined state and at the time of my visit there were still landmines littering the surrounding land.

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Ta Prohm
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Ta Prohm
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Ta Prohm
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Beng Mealea

 

This post makes up part of my contribution to the A to Z Challenge for April 2016

Click Here for a link to all my challenge posts!

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18 thoughts on “Snapshot … Angkor Thom”

  1. Oh my goodness! What beautiful pictures! You have been to so many places Kim! I love the idea of travelling but was fortunate to travel as a child and now as an adult find myself sticking close to places that are familiar. I’d love to visit such a place but find myself hesitant as I don’t know where to start, how to plan, where to go with kids, etc. I’m glad that in the meantime I’ll be able to learn about and experience places through posts like these! Can’t wait to see what B will bring tomorrow 🙂

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    1. Thank you, my dear friend! I’m so glad you enjoyed it. I’ve been fortunate to have done quite a bit of travel both home & abroad. And sometimes, the best destinations are right on your own doorstep. I don’t have children but I was a travel consultant for a while and itinerary planning where kids were involved was often something I had clients asking about. It can be done of course but there’s something to he said for showing your kids their own backyard (so to speak!) before they venture off to explore the world. I was 11 the first time I went overseas and had already travelled all over Australia … I think it helped me appreciate home and cultural differences more!
      Hope tomorrow’s post proves just as informative! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That’s a great perspective to have. I am guilty of getting caught up in everything being more exciting outside of the country I live in. I’m learning to appreciate the adventure in my own backyard, although it’s hard not to get tempted with posts like this! I didn’t know you worked as a travel consultant. I love getting to know people better through conversations beyond the post 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Yeah, I know what you mean. Something far off places seem so much more exotic and it’s easy to overlook the things at home. I’m definitely guilty of doing that. And I agree, the temptation is higher after reading about the travels of others … I’m very keen on Spain now lol 🙂
        I’m kind of a “Jack of all trades” when it comes to work. Travel consultant was just one of many 🙂 I loved inspiring people & helping plan awesome trips … But the hours are long, the pay is terrible and to be honest, the lack of appreciation by some of the travelling public for the skills of a trained consultant left me feeling like I had to move on.

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  2. wow! Kim. Cambodia? twice? I want to travel the East. These pictures are brilliant- you have a good eye. I love the trees with their roots over grown. I mean they must be like thousands of years old. When you plan your next visit -find a big suitcase to pack me in it xxxx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha that’s a deal, Daisy! I’m always happy to take a travel buddy along. I love South East Asia in general … I think I’ve had 8 or 9 trips to the region so far. But living in Australia, it’s one of the closest regions to home which makes it an easy choice.
      Thanks for the feedback on the photos! It’s much appreciated. Those old trees and their dense roots were stunning. It’s such a beautiful, wild looking place. I love the contrast of nature & the man-made world.
      Xx

      Like

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