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Cambodia's not too distant past is defined by the horrors of Pol Pot's Maoist regime in which he murdered 1.7 million people, nearly 25 % of the country's population.   In truth it should be incumbent on all of us to regularly remind ourselves of horrors such as Cambodia and The Holocaust so we can prevent more recent blots on our humanity like Darfur and Rwanda.   Regrettably neither Dee nor I had the stomach for facing the Killing Fields museum so we confined our trip to visiting the Capital Palace and incredible Ankor Wat. 

We spent 3 days wandering around the ruins there and every second was filled with awe.  Like seeing the Grand Canyon no amount  of looking at pictures can prepare you for the real thing. Often when seeing ancient ruins the brain goes into overload and another old wall is just another old wall. Not so with Ankor Wat- it is continually fascinating.

Ankor Wat is the largest religious building in the world and the Ankor civilization was over a million people when London had barely 50,000.  Seeing huge trees that are themselves hundreds of years old and which had taken root on top of the thousand year old walls was mesmerizing.   I immediately envisioned it as a fantastic location for the next Indiana Jones adventure so it was with no surprise that I found out it had been the location for Angelina Jolie as Laura Croft tomb raider.  While there she adopted a Cambodian child. 

The scale of Ankor is hard to grasp.  It consists of hundreds of structures spread over perhaps 30 sq. miles.  The main building often pictured with its five towers has a four sided gallery with each side over 150 yards long and covered with a floor to ceiling bas relief mural.  Every foot of all four sides is filled with hundreds of detailed figures depicting ancient stories.  In a temple group called  Bayon - they have counted 11,000 bas relief carvings- and there are hundreds of temples like Bayon so all told Ankor must have tens of thousands of individually hand carved figures. 

Another building had little rooms lined up  in a perfectly straight line with doors between each room.  Walking thorough just one wing of the building we went through maybe 200 individual doors each with a stone frame and lintel.  The complexity of the construction is hard to image even today yet this was all built with hand tools over 1,000 years ago.    

To enlarge any photo click on it then click on the back button to return here.

        Sunrise at the Ancient Temple                                          Ankor Wat                                                                   Main Temple


           Main Temple Complex                                        Outside Wall of the Gallery                                          The Elephant Wall

                        Bayon                                                           The Giant Heads                                                     Endless Doorways


                 Doorway Lintel                                                               Lintel  Details                                                          Carved Figures


                 Cambodian Beauty                                    With our friend Dani at Siem Reap                       Dee in constant amazement


                    Bas Relief                                                                                                                                                    Elephant Gate


 One of four galleries covered with carvings                  Portion of the gallery wall                                        Bas relief detail


                                                                                     The jungle begins to take over                               Crossing the moat to the main temple


  Man versus nature- the walls are over a thousand years old and the trees are hundreds of years old


         A tree like a crouching lion                                            Royal Palace in Phnom Penh                                  Monks at the Royal Palace


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Webmaster- Rob Dubin                             copyright 2003-2009   Rob  Dubin               Page Last updated 02/27/2009