Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Cambodia: Angkor Wat

The Angkor temples exist in various states of reconstruction.  Some are still scattered piles of stone with trees growing through.  Others have been largely restored to their original glory.

See those numbers written on the stones?  In order to reconstruct Baphuon, the temple was taken apart piece by piece and the original location of each stone was carefully noted.  During the reign of the Khmer Rouge, the inventory was lost, turning the reconstruction project into a massive puzzle in three dimensions.

Buddha reclining

Angkor Wat

Bullet holes from the Khmer Rouge

Our tour guide

It's extremely popular for tourists to visit Angkor Wat for sunrise, crowding around the reflecting pool to catch the iconic shot of the sun rising through the towers.  Instead, we caught the reflection of the tourists.

And then watched the sunrise from Bakan, the uppermost terrace of Angkor Wat

The Angkor temples have suffered the ravages of both time and men.  In many places, statues and decorations have been stolen and sold on the international black market, winding up in private collections and at famous museums abroad.  The push is increasingly toward preservation, though, and some of these stolen pieces are now being repatriated.

Ta Prohm temple has been left partially-reconstructed with gigantic trees growing through.
It has a cameo in "Tombraider" with Angelina Jolie.

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