For me to even attempt to write about the history or background of Angkor is an impossible task and something that is best read at Wikipedia, to even remember and correctly name the many temples inside this once magnificent kingdom is another tedious task, but for anyone who had a chance to stepped inside this UNESCO World Heritage Site, there is an over-all gratification experience far beyond the awe that we feel whenever we see associated photographs available on the web.
Visiting the ruins of Angkor is the main draw why people visit Siem Reap and it is my top reason too. A whole day with a hired tuktuk is dedicated to possibly see each and every parts of what is referred to as the largest pre-industrial city in the world.
Surrounded by Tonle Sap River, the main gate towards Angkor Wat is a fascination as it is. Consists of long hallways with stone guards structure and several wall stone carving, it is a great introduction on what to expect about this temple city.
A primary example of so called Khmer architecture, mainly built using sand stones, the main temple or Angkor Wat stands at an elevated terrace, one that requires visitors to take on a daunting task of climbing the stairs in order to get a closer view of the predominant towers.
Just imagine slowly climbing these stairs on a hot afternoon together with tons of visitors, it can be a very tiresome affair but something that is required in order to appreciate its magnificent beauty.
Though I would love it to be a day of quietly exploring Angkor Wat, I don’t think it is possible, the sheer number of visitors is simply astonishing. Given that these temples were made at 1125, it is astounding to think how these sandstone structures can support the pressure exerted by millions of visitor per year.
I wonder if the blocks of bricks scattered on the floor or the one appeared to be stacked incorrectly is a result of the natural degradation of the sand stones over time or a result of both natural and man-made contribution.
Equally huge are the giant figures guarding the gates of Angkor Thom, with some of them are headless. If you let your imagination run wild for a while, just imagine when these guards come to life, those huge feet would surely crush any enemy.
Like the many wonders in the world, the true beauty of Angkor temple ruins lies not only on its size but more importantly on the details found on every walls and corners.
Apart from the writings on the walls, one thing that gives Angkor ruins an air of timelessness are the huge sprung roots growing out of the ruins. This can be seen particularly at corridors of Ta Phrom, the temple used in Lara Croft: Tomb Raider movie in case you ask.
It is easy to get lost inside the many gates of Preah Khan ruins, I know because I did try to walk from one end to another and instead of taking the straight line direction, I decided to divert a little and entered the succeeding smaller gates which basically led me to dead ends.
It will require more than a day to see the whole Kingdom of Angkor, I believe I’ve only seen half of it.
For many visitors, after few hours of going to one ruins after another, it can be a tiring and redundant activity but you have to admit that at the end of the day no matter how many times you have seen the same bas relief still you wanted to see some more.