I spent the day exploring the ruins of Angkor, the capital city of the Khmer Empire (9th-15th centuries). I hired a driver with an air conditioned car (a must given the oppressive heat and humidity). We actually went in reverse order of the way the temples are presented here, but it’ll make more sense seeing them in the typical order in which tourists see them. My driver, who was very good, took me in reverse order so I would avoid the crowds. After each temple, he had a bottle water and cold towel waiting for me. Although it was drizzling in the morning, I was fortunate to be visiting at the tail end of the rainy season, since it made the colors of the forest so much more vivid. One gets the sense that there is a constant struggle between the people who are restoring the ruins and the jungle, which relentlessly pushes back to reclaim its land.
At its peak, Angkor was a huge metropolis. Between 1010 and 1220, 0.1% of the world’s population lived there. There are thousands of temples to explore, many of which have been swallowed up by the forests. Although most of Angkor was abandoned during warfare in the 15th century, Angkor Wat—believed to be the largest religious monument—existed continuously. Scientists are using technology to discover even more ruins. Angkor is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
What follows are slideshows of the following temples: Angkor Wat, Ta Prohm (fans of Lara Croft: Tomb Raider may recognize it), Ta Keo, Angkor Thom, Baksei Chamkrong, and Prasat Bei. With apologies, I saw so many temples that I may not have divided them accurately.
Also known as the “Lara Croft” temple since a portion of Tomb Raider was filmed there. The jungle really is taking over these ruins.
I climbed to the top. Afterwards, my driver said that I was brave, since tourists often fall and break limbs. Just last week, he had someone break a leg. I said thanks for telling me afterwards. 😀
This was the capital of the Khmer Empire. A huge complex.
Baksei Chamkrong and Prasat Bei
These were my first temples/ruins of the day, and I was the only one at them. They’re on the smaller side, and the major tour companies took their customers to the more major sites. I was alone the whole time, except, as you’ll see, for some animals that were very curious to see me.
There was a lot of wildlife: