It seemed like the entire population of Cambodia was headed in the same direction at 5 am – to Angkor Wat to see the dawn over the main temple. The dawn didn’t disappoint as faint pinks intensified the sky and reflections in the pool in front of the palace. The appearance of the sun a few minues later completed a magical morning.
Angkor Wat park is a UNESCO world heritage site that covers about 400 square kms and contains temples constructed from the 9th to 15 centuries during the rule of the Khmer empire. The temples started out as Hindu and are now Buddhist. The area was heavily mind by the Khmer Rouge and wasn’t safe until the last 20 years. We focused today on Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom with the wonderful Banyon temple. Stairs are steep and high in Angkor watt in particular.Wooden stairs had to built in many areas as most dignitaries and religious figures arrived by elephant in the past. As they dismounted 20 feet off the ground, stairs were not required.
A visit to Ta Prohm – the overgrown temple where the Lara Croft Tomb Raider movie was shot – rounded out the day . This temple is similar to most of the Angkor Wat complex before restoration was started by the French in the 1860’s . The entire Angkor complex had been overgrown by the jungle following its abandonment by the Khmer in the 15th century . A bad drought at that time forced the relocation of the court to Phnom Penh.