Angkor WatIf you have ever dreamed of exploring the exotic places of the world or having adventures in the manner of Indiana Jones, the temples near Siem Reap Cambodia are a must-see! The temples were built between the 9th and 13th centuries by the kings of the Khmer Empire. The most famous is Angkor Wat, pictured here, whose outline graces the Cambodian flag. Amber and I spent one whole day exploring just five of the one thousand possible sights to see in the area.dsc_0850The short version of the history is this: eleven to eight centuries ago there was a great empire and about a million people living in the area of Angkor. The kings of the time had progressively more enormous and elaborate Hindu and then Buddhist temples constructed. In the centuries that followed the empire faded, the wooden structures that the area’s inhabitants lived in were completely reclaimed by the jungle and the temples were left like isolated islands of cut stone amongst a sea of ever thickening foliage.dsc_0762In the 19th and 20th centuries, French expeditions cleared the growth from many of the sights. In 1907 Thailand returned control of Angkor to Cambodia and that is when tourists began to visit the area – often riding on elephants. Today, visitors come from all over the world by bus, van, motorbike and (like us) tuk tuk. We took literally hundreds of pictures that day. This small sample truly speaks for itself as to the temples’ beauty.dsc_0840dsc_0834dsc_0544dsc_0820dsc_0630dsc_0627Ta Prohm is especially enchanting as great trees have intertwined themselves with the stone. The majesty of the buildings in their prime must have been impressive indeed but their envelopment by nature makes them appear absolutely magical! Paramount must have thought so too as they chose it for shooting one sequence in the 2001 Lara Croft, movie. We should have been keeping count of how many times during our visit we heard the words “Tomb Raider” among the many languages being spoken!Ta Prohmdsc_0676dsc_0670dsc_0624dsc_0608dsc_0779dsc_0775dsc_0782dsc_0830dsc_0823dsc_0793dsc_0536dsc_0715dsc_0852The scenery here truly defies description and these photos are completely inadequate. I think this place, more than any we have visited so far has made us feel the most like awed travelers, indeed. We saw many carvings of deities adorning temple walls, including, Vishnu, the Preserver or Sustainer of life. He represents the principles of order, righteousness and truth. When these values are threatened, Vishnu is to emerge from his transcendence to restore peace and order on earth. With so many places in the world lacking these things, Amber and I found this idea most engaging.dsc_0599

Coming up, rice paper, a bamboo train, and lots and lots of bats!