Onto happier times

Following on from the horrors of Cambodia’s recent past, we headed to the amazing temples of its ancient past as we moved onto Siem Reap, home to some of the Khmer’s most famous temples including the epic complex that includes Angkor Wat.

Here’s a very blurry picture of me in front of the iconic silhoutte as dawn rises over Angkor Wat. It is the world’s largest religous building.

As the best-preserved temple , it is the only one to have remained a significant religious centre since its foundation – first Hindu, dedicated to the god  Vishnu, then Buddist.

The temple is a representation of  Mount Meru, the home of the gods: the central towers symbolises the five peaks of the mountain, and the walls and moat the surrounding mountain ranges and ocean.

Shame the scaffolding spoils the scene a little bit!!!

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Close by Angkor Wat is the temple of Angkor Thom and the magnificant stone faces of the Bayon.

From a distance the Bayon temple seems like a muddle of chaotic heaps of stone, higgly piggly but up close you start to make out the incredible work that has taken place.

Hundreds of huge faces are carved onto towers. All gazing into the distance.

Here are some of the 216 huge Bayon faces, all smiling enigmatically in all directions.

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Then it was onto Ta Phrom, a haunting temple complex still consumed by the jungle.

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Other temples such as Angkor Wat have been painstakingly conserved and restored, but this temple has been left, pretty much as it was discovered. Although apparently the authorities are now “cleaning” it up, which is a shame.

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Silk cottons trees and strangler figs creep and crawl along every surface, destroying and holding together the atmospheric temple.

You can see the scale of some of the trees. They have had free reign for years, nature gradually taking back its domain.
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