Angkor Archaeological Park.

Trip Start Nov 05, 2007
Trip End Jun 22, 2008

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Where I stayed
Golden Angkor Hotel & Restaurant

Flag of Cambodia  ,
Friday, February 29, 2008

A six hour bus trip from Phnom Penh north we arrived at Siem Reap, the gateway to the millennium-old temple ruins of the "Angkor Archaeological Park." Home of the legendary (UNESCO-World Heritage Site) Angkor Wat whose significance and visual impact put it in a class with the Pyramids, Machu Pichu and the Taj Mahal.
The park encompasses dozens of temple ruins from different time periods and styles. In order to see the park you can purchase a one, three (we purchased) or seven day pass in which you get photographed and your ticket has your picture on it and is checked before entrance to each site. This was a more up-to-date system then getting into country!
We hired a tuk-tuk with driver for the 3 days to drive us around to each site, many are from 1 mile to 30 miles apart! Based on the heat and the amount of people visiting the ruins we started each day before sunrise (6:00am) and continued to about 3:30pm.
We found a good guide book (I am using for the following detail) which rates the ruins from 1 star to 4, like a restaurant rating!

The Empire existed between the 9th to the 12th centuries AD, at its height more than one million people lived in the area. The following is a listing of some of the ruins we visited over the 3 days
and relate to the pictures included in the entry (no picture can capture the size and scope of these ruins):
----Angkor Wat (4 star)-is visually breathtaking, built for King Suryavarman II in the early 12th century as his state temple and capital city. As the best-preserved temple at the site, it is the only one to have remained a significant religious centre since its foundation-first Hindu, dedicated to Vishnu, then Buddhist. The temple is admired for the grandeur and harmony of the architecture, its extensive bas-reliefs and for the numerous guardian spirits adorning its walls.
One of the first Western visitors to the temple was Antonio da Magdalena, a Portuguese monk who visited in 1586 and said that it "is of such extraordinary construction that it is not possible to describe it with a pen, particularly since it is like no other building in the world. It has towers and decoration and all the refinements which the human genius can conceive of". However, the temple was popularized in the West only in the mid-19th century on the publication of Henri Mouhot's travel notes. The French explorer wrote of it: "One of these temples-a rival to that of Solomon, and erected by some ancient Michelangelo-might take an honorable place beside our most beautiful buildings. It is grander than anything left to us by Greece or Rome, and presents a sad contrast to the state of barbarism in which the nation is now plunged."
For us to see it first hand it will be a memory that we will never forget.

----Bayon (4 star)- Also visually breathtaking, most distinctive feature is the multitude of serene and massive stone faces on the many towers which jut out from the upper terrace and cluster around its central peak. There are 54 towers of four faces each, totaling 216 faces. The temple is known also for two impressive sets of bas-reliefs (see pictures), which present an unusual combination of mythological, historical, and mundane scenes. The outer wall of the outer gallery features a series of bas-reliefs depicting historical events and scenes from the everyday life of the Angkorian Khmer.

---- Preah Khan
---- Ta Som
---- Neak Pean
---- Banteay Smre
---- Roluos Group
---- Ta Prohm
and many more.

Note: We visited about 25 to 30 different ruins over the course of our 3 days and therefore have only given details above the two major ones. The list and facts of all could cover pages. I have named the photographs in a manner that you will get a feel for what it was like without giving each individual ruin name (in many cases) or base-relief (definition: are individual figures, groups of figures, or entire scenes cut into stone walls, not as drawings but as sculpted images projecting from a background) subject matter. I hope you will enjoy them.
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