Some time around July of 2013, I was fortunate to visit Siem Reap, Cambodia and see the world’s largest religious monument in all its glory. It’s really so big, with many nooks and corners that you would want to capture in your camera. Just walking towards it at the entrance, you’ll immediately find a number of interesting things to see.
When you visit Siem Reap, there are actually several places to see, not just the temples. But of course, visiting at least the Angkor Wat temple is a must! There are actually two circuits to see the many temples around Siem Reap. Circuit 1, which includes the Angkor Wat, should be enough, since it already includes the most interesting temples like the Ta Prohm, Bayon, and Angkor Thom. Ta Prohm is actually where the movie Tomb Raider was shot – but it deserves an entirely separate post.
For today, let me take you around the main temple – the Angkor Wat.
On the entrance, you will see some structures that would make you think that they are already part of Angkor Wat. But they are actually just the gate of the whole complex. This is where you can find tour guides who can also double as your photographers. Since most Cambodian can speak English well, understanding about the temples and the whole Khmer history won’t be a problem. But I strongly advise that before you visit the temples, you should check out their National Museum first. It is there that everything will be explained clearly, so that you can appreciate the structures better.
Every corner of the temple has some kind of engraving, even on the ceiling. It’s amazing to see them upclose, however, you’re not allowed to touch them. The lady scantily clothed in one of my photos carved into one of the walls is called an “apsara”. They are like fairies or goddesses that are known to protect the temples.
Being a religious monument where Buddhist Monks still actively live and practice, they observe a strict dress code. No matter how hot and humid the weather can be, you have to wear pants and a shirt, or at least be covered up; otherwise, you’ll be forced to buy an Angkor Wat shirt. Well, not bad for a souvenir, I guess!
Angkor Wat is actually one of UNESCO’s World Heritage sites and as such, it’s contantly being renovated or fixed by the Cambodian government. When we went there, they have this program of restoring all the temples around Siem Reap, not just the Angkor Wat. They wanted to preserve their history, tradition and heritage – which is always a good thing.
To end, here’s a photo of me and my friends in one of the temple’s photogenic corners.
Have an enjoyable weekend!