|Angkor Wat - Cambodia|
|Bayon - Angkor Thom, Cambodia|
|Traditional Cambodian Costumes|
- Bayon, Angkor Thom, Cambodia
|Cambodian Taxi - Angkor Wat, Cambodia|
|Ta Prohm Temple (Tomb Rader)|
|Monks at Angkor Wat - Cambodia|
|Apsara Dance Performance |
- Siem Reap, Cambodia
|Cambodian Boy Fishing - Siem Reap, Cambodia|
|Ta Prohm (Tomb Rader) Temple - Cambodia|
|Ta Prohm (Tomb Rader) - Cambodia|
The city of Siem Reap is the gateway to Angkor Wat, the world’s largest sacred building, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and one of the former 7 wonders of the world. OK, people think Angkor Wat is cool and we do too.
Actually Angkor Wat (see photos) is just one of several fabulous temples in a huge complex including a capital city built for Khmer King Suryavarman II in the early 12th century. Because better stones were used in Angkor Wat's construction, it is the best preserved and most famous.
Angkor Wat originally was a Hindu Temple. About 150 years later a king was deposed by his a son-in-law and it was changed to a Buddhist Temple. Angkor Wat's classical Khmer architecture reflects both religions. It took 25,000 workers more than 37 years to complete it.
Our favorite temple near Siem Reap was Ta Prohm, the temple recently made famous by the movie Tomb Rader. Built in 1156, Ta Prohm Temple's halls have been mostly untouched by archaeologists and remain covered by the jungle tree roots. Ta Prohm emanates an aura mystery (really neat! - see the photos).
Near Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom (the “Great City”) was the last capital of the Khmer Empire. In the 11th century, more than one million people populated Angkor Thom when at the same time it is estimated that London had a population of only 35,000.
At the heart of Angkor Thom is the Bayon (see photo), the last great temple built at Angkor. The Bayon rises three imposing levels with numerous towers featuring multiple carvings of massive serene faces at the top.
Recent satellite images shows Angkor Thom’s actual grand scale to be comparable to present-day Los Angeles, making it the largest city on Earth dating from the pre-industrial era.
For this reason the Angkor Thom complex and Angkor Wat are placed in significance alongside Machu Picchu in South America or the pyramids of Egypt (click here to see) as a testament to the greatness of a continent’s lost civilization.
The city of Siem Reap has a definite French influence from the French occupation of about 100 years during 1860-1960. With a population of only 140,000, Siem Reap now hosts almost two million tourists a year with with a busy market.
Siem Reap has a wide range of accommodations ranging from 5-star hotels to budget guesthouses. Our family run hotel was close to the center of Siem Reap where we walked to Pub Street for dinner and shopping.
We also attended an Apsara Dance performance of traditional Cambodian dances (see photos).
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