Angkor – the reason you go to Siem Reap. Sometimes you might think to yourself, “is it really that great?” — absolutely. Angkor should be on everyone’s itinerary when near Cambodia or in Southeast Asia. Being one of the Wonders of the World, It truly highlights and encapsulates the essence of the word ‘wonder’. This is how Collin ends his trip and where my brother Paul starts his, and what a way to end and to start. I would love to write about it and try to convey the grandeur of the sights with words, but that seems too much of a daunting task. I hope to show you Angkor through the view of my lens like a picture book – the good kind of books. In this story we start in Chiang Rai where Collin and I stopped to see the “white temple” before heading to Siem Reap. It was in Siem Reap that Paul joined us and off we went for two very full days of temple hopping in the once magnificent and still awe-inspiring kingdom of Angkor.
Pre – Angkor
I must put in some words here to explain how amazing this man is. He is one of the few artists to have survived the Khmer Rouge regime. Fore the horrors of the 1970s Proeung worked as an architect overseeing conservation works at Angkor. During this time he was able to draw very detailed architectural plans of many of the temples. During the Khmer Rouge regime he buried all of his plans and works and went into hiding. He is the only one of the four architects to have survived. When we walked in he was immensely proud of his life and could not have been happier to share it with us. He even gave Collin and I a free souvenir to take home. He is a living testament to never give up on your dream. He has now built an incredibly precise miniature rendering of some of the temples using his original plans. He is 81 and told us how he will begin to make another one that will take him 11 more years to finish.
So I took a lot of pictures. However I am sparing you of every single picture I took and trying to show some highlights. I might not even have a picture for every temple I saw (as some of them might seem the same without a guide explaining the history and stories). Anyway, day 2 was a more adventurous day. On day 1, as you saw, we hit the major sights of Angkor with a guide explaining the history and significance of everything. Imagine that in front of Angkor Thom the king would be greeted with 600,000 elephants, in case you wanted some perspective on how large Angkor is. One more fun fact, there were moats around every large structure because the sandstone outsides were filled with sand and the moats kept the sand from spilling out and therefore allowing it to retain its structural integrity. If the moats dried out the temples would crumble (which we saw with the temples that had the moats dried out). On the second day Paul and I went to visit some of the more remote sites.
Angkor in a sandstone-shell
It is truly amazing. There is no other way to describe it. This would be hard to make nowadays with modern technology. They brought the blocks of sandstone from about a hundred kilometers away to build Angkor. Couple that with the engineering involved and the skill of the carvings and it truly is a Wonder of the World.