Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Angkor Wat: That's a lot of religious building (or are you just happy to see me?)

Angkor Wat at dawn.
Angkor Wat, the 12th century temple complex in Angkor, Cambodia lived up to our very high expectations. (Hint: Wat means temple.)  Crumbing temples, shrouded in forest, with amazing light and shadows enhancing the experience.  Angkor Wat itself is but one of the many temples in the region, and the most preserved or restored.  It holds the distinction of being the world's largest religious building.  And indeed, it is huge.  A guide, or wikipedia, might tell you that Angkor Wat is at the top of the high classical style of Khmer architecture. Or that it has become a symbol of Cambodia, appearing on its national flag, or that it is Cambodia's prime attraction for visitors.  I will just tell you that it was awesome.  Awesome to look at, awesome to explore, and even awesome to just sit and watch the world go by.  Here is a photo essay of our journey though Angkor Wat.
Nice ladies (in bas relief) greet each visitor.
Hello Ladies!
Angkow Wat at early dawn.
I stood alone conteplating the work and effort to build such a massive temple.
Well,  I was with lots of other tourists, but not Jesse, who was happily sleeping in her Le Meriden bed.
The northern wall stretches into the distance.
I had the temple to myself as I wandered around the sides and towards the back.
Angkor Wat's massive front.
This is only half of it, and this is inside the moat and outer walls.
The library.
NYPL (New York Public Library) would be proud.
Though as far I know they have not yet sold the naming rights of this building. 
One of the four towers that make up the temple's central structure.
A view of the crumbling ruins from the elevated central structure
Not only does the temple have numerous devatas (guardian spirits) adorning its walls, but super cute ones too!
By 9 AM the rest of the tourists, hello Jesse, hello Lauren, had arrived.
And so had some of the novice monks.
He was just lounging in shade. 
A local woman takes a rest
Jesse posing by the many, many windows
A horse waits to give rides just outside the inner temple.
Incredible Bas Reliefs showing the military might of the Khmer empire.
Jesse and Lauren assist the devatas (guardian spirits) in protecting the temple.
They refused to do so topless despite my pointing out that all the other devatas were. 
Way better without a shirt.
This older monk respects the sanctity of the temple by calling his fellow monks on his new iPhone.
"You'll never guess where I am right now!"
Lauren, Jesse, and I pose by the northern wall

Love the ellie bas relief

Just lounging with my book in Angkor Wat.
Very cool.

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