Some people who know me may wonder how I got the above photo of Angkor Wat at sunrise. The answer is easy. My husband, Dave, went out at 5:00 a.m. and waited for the sunrise. We were amazed by Angkor Wat and nearby temples of the Khmer civilization. We rate them in the same category as the world's great ancient sites, such as the Pyramids of Egypt, Machu Picchu, Petra, and the Roman Forum.
Although Angkor Wat is the largest and most famous of the Khmer temples, it is one of about 400 temples in the vicinity of Siem Reap, Cambodia. The above photo is just one of the 216 stone faces in Bayon temple, located very close to Angkor Wat. It was constructed about 1,200 AD.
When we decided to go to Cambodia, we were familiar with Angkor Wat, but we did not realize how many other temples there are to explore in the jungle. Each is different. Some are still partially obscured by the jungle. They have done an excellent job of developing an infrastructure for visitors in the 15 years since the end of the horrific violence of the Pol Pot regime.
Cambodia gets a lot of rain, and there are canals and moats surrounding many of the temples. These lilly pads were growing in one of the temple moats.
Tragically, during the Pol Pot regime and warfare and strife that enveloped cambodia during the 1970's - 1998, many of the heads of ancient statues were cut off by thieves for sale in international markets. Hopefully the heads can be found and returned.
The temples were impressive on several levels. The size was overwhelming, but we also delighted in the delicate artistry of the stone figures and carvings.