April 01, 2006

Angkor Wat

I am here! Spent three sweaty days on a bicycle, riding the 7 km each way from Siam Reap plus many more to explore the massive grounds of these ancient ruins. Angkor itself is actually only one part of hundreds of temples scattered around the beautiful jungle. Standing on top of them, you can sometimes see the familiar lotus shaped peaks jutting above the flat horizon a few kilometers away.

The size is staggering and the workmanship unbelievable. Trying to imagine how many people it took to build and then how many artists to carve the intricate reliefs and patterns. Huge blocks stacked into steep staircases and tall, arched walls. Details covered all surfaces and sculptures. Large, smiling faces of Bayon on 4 sides of each tower. So many parts shifting and broken and fallen and angled. Tree roots mangled between Ta Prohm's cracks and doorways. Piles of puzzle pieces not yet solved. Preah Khan heads stolen from the railing of men holding a snake. Walls before moats curved on the edges of missing sections. Framed landscapes between open windows. Baphuon's maze of tiered reliefs of 9 headed snakes and dancing women.

Built between the 9th and 13th centuries, I wonder what colour the blackened and mossed covered stone looked like. How each carving looked without parts cut out, cracked or worn away. The sounds of intense jungle, uncleared the way it looked in the eyes of the French explorer. But even still, what remains now, is the most impressive thing I've ever seen. P

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