“as the measurements of solar and lunar time cycles were built into the sacred space… meant to perpetuate the king’s power and to honor and placate the deities manifest in the heavens above.”

Angkor Wat Market
Market at Angkor Wat

Our visit to Angkor Wat concluded with a walk through the market area where all the food vendors hang out. Most of them had given their stalls memorable Western names, like Mr. Rambo or Harry Potter or Ladybug. This helps them attract business because they’ll send a member of their staff out with a menu to encourage people visiting the temple to come in for food. I suppose the more memorable the name, the more likely the person is to visit their shop if hunger strikes. We also saw what seemed to be monks’ quarters and a whole series of other, newer temples and other support structures.

Monk at Angkor Wat
Monk at Angkor Wat
Angkor Wat
I don’t know why all of these people suddenly waded into the decorative lake, but it looked very refreshing

Finally, we passed huge groups of people who were entering the temple as we made our way out. The light was still golden and beautiful, so all of the structures we passed had a sort of hazy glow.

Angkor Wat
Angkor Wat
Bird at Angkor Wat
Angkor Wat
Angkor Wat
Angkor Wat Moat
Angkor Wat Moat
A reconstructed sculpture at Angkor Wat
Angkor Wat

I knew Angkor Wat is a UNESCO World Heritage site and that it was important for the Khmer Empire historically. But I was honestly unprepared for the sheer size and scale of the complex. It really rivals any of the other ancient sites I’ve seen in terms of significance and achievement: Ephesus, Rome, Athens, Karnak, etc. It is fortunate that the political upheavals in Cambodia during the intervening centuries and especially during the Khmer Rouge period did not damage the temples more than time itself has done, so future generations can appreciate this walk through history.

Angkor Wat
Back on the tuk-tuk
Sculptures along the road just outside of Angkor Wat
Sculptures along the road just outside of Angkor Wat

Another surprising aspect of our visit to Siem Reap was the number of fascinating temples besides Angkor Wat that are easily accessible by tuk-tuk in the neighborhood. The next few posts will focus on each of those, starting with Bayon. So stay tuned tomorrow for that.

Title quote: Eleanor Mannikka

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