the pinnacle of khmer culture
(This post is half old / half new...I started it in April...it is now mid-May. Forgive me, reader!)
As I might have mentioned before, being situated in Korea, one is positioned to see many other beautiful countries and sights. Some of these seem to be tourist traps (and I'm not naming any names), but some are so spectacular that they must be visited and never forgotten. Out of the things I've seen, this list includes the Great Wall in Beijing, the Golden Temple in Kyoto, the Alhambra in Granada, any Gaudi architecture in Barcelona, Halong Bay in Vietnam, and Hoi An (also in Vietnam).
And, as with any of these, I highly HIGHLY recommend going to see Angkor Wat of Siem Reap, Cambodia. With each of these sights or places, I have always felt a sense of awe. Angkor Wat was no different. And as with these other magnificent structures, I will let the pictures speak for themselves.
The road to Siem Reap was long, bumpy, and dusty. This is what it looked like about everywhere...
Some locals waiting around.
Women sellers with their wares.
The road to Angkor Wat.
This was either a wedding party or a television show shoot. It was hard to tell.
People lunching, horse tied up.
Dust that plagues Siem Reap.
Lots of balusters (columns) and bas-reliefs (stone wall etchings).
In addition to the tourists, there were lots of Cambodian people.
Before the Khmer Rouge took over, much of Angkor Wat and its surrounding temples were disassembled by foreign architects in order to preserve the structures and make them stronger. They were driven out of the country before they could finish. They had kept records of the location of each individual stone; these records were also destroyed by the Khmer Rouge. This is how many of the temples look...there are ruins all over the grounds.
Some fellow tourists take a rest in the heat.
Holy crap. Seriously? Ajummas? In Angkor Wat?! I could spot them a mile away.
I haven't seen as many signs in Korean outside of Korea as I did in Siem Reap. They were everywhere...I felt like I was in some sort of Twilight Zone...
It was impossible to capture just how steep these steps were. Impossible!
Some of the statues were amazingly well-preserved.
These deities are still actively worshiped. In fact, Angkor Wat is still an active temple. Most of the deities are headless; during the Khmer Rouge period, thieves plundered the temples and removed the heads to sell them to foreign art collectors. Most of them have never been returned.
All the good stuff all together.
Groundskeepers taking a nap at the hottest part of the day. It was ridiculously hot...all of us stupid tourists were walking around in the sun. These guys were smart.
A man leading his horse...but not to drink.
After this, my travel companion and I went to have lunch and a hot-air balloon ride.
A chick welcomes us.
Some of the flowering trees.
With the visit to this temple, I saw a lifelong (well...not really lifelong...more like since-I'd-been-in-Korea-long) desire fulfilled. It was totally worth the $20.
Then we went to see Ta Prohm...coming up!