This amazing complex was built around 1100 was built by King Suryavarman II and the rulers that followed over the century. In the morning we visited the largest and most recognizable of the temples. This is the first one built, construction took about 30 years. It is an example of Khmer art at the peak. Reliefs and sculptures cover the entire complex. Art work was created by slaves an artisans working at a level of perfection that was ensured by their life. Mistakes were not tolerated. Sculptures of dancers are everywhere and each face is unique. The temple was originally a Hindu temple it is now Buddhist and the Hindu gods that remain have been clothed by the local population to preserve modesty. The temple is surrounded by a large manmade moat. The composition of the building is perfectly balanced with a central entrance and two side entrances. Much of the restoration work is being provided by other countries.
After a short break at the hotel we returned to see three other sites within the complex.
The Angkor Thom, Bayon and Ta Prohm. Ta Prohm has been left almost in the same condition as it was discovered. Here is the site where the large kapok tree roots hav engulfed the temple – the picture was used on the cover of the National Geographic Magazine. The amount of growth that covered these temples as one time makes their discovery even more amazing. Several days before we arrived the Indian archeologist uncovered the largest Angkor Buddha at this site. We did not see it because it has been moved by the Indian government for restoration.
Bayon temple marks the beginning of the decline of the architecture. The base is surrounded by bas-reliefs that depict a war between chams and the the khmer.
Angkor Thom has towers with stone faces facing in each of the four cardinal directions.
The majority of the restoration is being completed by the French and Indian governments. The Japanese and Chinese governments are repaving roads and bridges. US does provide aid but the projects do not seem to be as a outstanding as the others who are vying for Cambodian loyalty.
The complex has over 2.5 million visitor a year at a minimum of $20 per person. All money from ticket sales and other venus on the site have been awarded to a friend of the prime minister who bid 2 million dollars a year for these rights.
In the evening we had a lovely dinner at the hotel and we were entertained by traditional dancers.
I am falling way behind on the writing…sorry.
No need to apologize – these are great entries, and I’m quite envious. Plus it was cool to get the shout out as a Fulbright trip member in your previous entry. We teachers may not be rich, but we’re humble.
When you can tell me more about the khmer and champ?
Good and interesting tidbits on the politics of the funding.
I forgot to tell you that I did my nunnery stint in Siem Reap. The temple I stayed at was pretty much across from the big square where all the tourists go to shop. Martha is running in a half marathon at Ankor Watt in Early December.