“Angkor is not orchestral; it is monumental. It is an epic poem which makes its effect, like the Odyssey and Paradise Lost, by the grandeur of its structures as well as by the beauty of the details. Angkor is an epic in rectangular form imposed upon the Cambodian jungle. -Arnold Toynbee, East to West
We have written a four post series on Angkor, so we’ll give a bit of an introduction. Historically, the temples of Angkor were built between the 9th and 13th centuries, the earlier ones being Hindu and the later ones being a mix of Hindu and Buddhist. The temples are huge and spread out, so the temples of Angkor are not a single sight nor can they be walked; the largest, Angkor Thom is enclosed in a square wall, with each side measuring 3km! Not just large, they’re spread out over a large area. While most are within 10 kilometers of Siem Reap (translates to destruction of Siam (Thailand)), where we’re staying, some are 40, 50, and 60 kilometers away. While biking is an option, it is really hot, so we hired a moto driver to pull us around in cart (very similar to a tuk-tuk). Given the things we’ve seen and heard about Angkor Wat, from textbooks to documentaries to fellow travelers, Angkor had a lot to live up to. Yet, despite the high expectations we had, Angkor still blew us away. As far as ruins go, Angkor’s temples are the most impressive I have ever seen. So we’ll try to utilize more photos than words in these posts, but remember they fall far short of the real deal.