Thursday, December 15, 2011

You Wat-n't like me when I'm Angkor

This is the big one - the 12th century Hindu/Buddhist/Hindu-again/Buddhist-again-and-let's-all-get-along-now temple/city complex at the heart of the Angkor Archaeological Park, with its five distinctive towers that have worked their way into all non-harrowing imagery of Cambodia in recent years (it's not that one with the big faces though, that's another one).

It wasn't my favourite temple in Cambodia - not by a long way - but it was a great starting point. Even if my tour group's actual starting point (arriving around 9AM) was possibly the worst time for taking photos. I hope you like blindingly bright backgrounds and obscured details.

Prasat Angkor Wat,
Angkor Archaeological Park

Outer and inner enclosures

Outer causeway (250 metres).
That's right, you're getting facts instead of sarcasm. I have a lot of temples to get through

Inner causeway (350 m)

Defaced (literally) lion on duty. It looks like a feeble attempt's been made to repair it by etching some 2D human features. UNESCO's restoration efforts aren't what they used to be

- Angkor Wat!
- Angkor Wat!
- Angkor Wat!
- It's only a model.
- Shh!

First tier

This place is pretty immaculately maintained.
I wonder how it stands up to Cambodia's modern cities, where people actually live

Bas-reliefs depicting scenes from the Ramayana and other things. Or something

I was too preoccupied with taking trippy pictures of corridors to pay much attention

At least we didn't spend literally all the time taking photos of each other, like the Asian tour groups seemed to. I wonder if they fit as much in? Or if the day is extended to account for it?

Second tier

There are practically no rambling restrictions in these temples - you're free to stray and deface the ancient masonry as you see fit.

Enjoy Angkor Wat while it lasts, because your kids won't get the chance

Another nice library

A nice bath.
(Note: Do not bathe here. There is no water. You won't get clean)

Central courtyard

East wall and upper gallery

Spoilsports don't let you climb these steps and risk certain injury.
It is political correctness slash health and safety gone mad

Don't worry about this guy - he's 'armless! ('Arm less' - oh wait, that doesn't work for heads)

Yeah, I know - phwoar!

If my patient and creative camera angling is successful, you should be under the delusion that this entire place was not completely swarming with people

There they are. Look at all the feckless dregs

Third tier

I had to work around scaffolding too. One day I'll do a blog about How Places Actually Look

North gate

Gopura: pretty close now

Perhaps you're not supposed to get this close though

Angkor Wat at balloon-set


  1. Did they not learn how to rape their own monuments from the English.. ah the west in general? Its fun to make self important statements of irony about a culture destroyed by your own huh?

  2. I don't understand what point you're making. These Angkor cities were destroyed by the Thai army (the 15th century equivalent).

  3. Has nothing to do with the history my logical friend. Tourist traps, the destruction of places that should build goosebumps upon your goosebumps. Excuse my fragment. Where have they gotten these ideas of selling their very history for the price of a bus ticket and the money you spend while you are there? Basically saying the same thing you are. Yet, the great irony persist. Places like this exist because of, and for people from the west that taught these folks how to turn their most historical places into commodities.

  4. Don't blame me for the missteps of my culture (or 'the west' in general - that's a pretty big place, I can't be responsible for everything they've done). I'm sure whichever country you're from has a spotless reputation.

    I'm just trying to see the world while I have the time and freedom to do so. I try to minimise my impact - I think it's very important to treat these places with care - but I'm very interested in visiting them all the same. I made sure to donate to victims of landmines at these Cambodian cities and temples, so I could be more confident that my money was going where it was needed.

    Sorry this post annoyed you. I don't know what's so contentious about it, really - I'm just saying what I see.

  5. Apparently I'm this guy's photographer now. That's nice. Cheque please.