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Saturday, November 10, 2007

The Mother of All Wats

Well we made the pilgrimage and saw it. The largest temple complex in the world. What's that Notre Dame Cathedral, Vatican City, you say? They got nothing on Angkor Wat. In Khmer it means Great Temple and boy is it. We spent three days seeing it and probably only saw about 40% of the temples...for some reason Sarah didn't want to see the ones with mines around them...go figure.

We saw the main one which is Angkor Wat, the actual temple built and added onto between 800 and 1200 AD. The whole temple complex is staggering in its size as well as its intricately carved stone works.

Next was Angkor Thom, which means Great City (yeah not creative with the names). This was where the Capital city, King's palace and plazas and that sort of things were. We then went to three of the larger temples in the area.

Some interesting sights within the temples:

In Angkor Thom there is a temple called Bayon and all the surrounding towers are covered with carved faces of the King all with this little smile like he knows something you don't know. The King was Jayavarman VII, and he was the guy who built the most during this period.

In the same area there is also a plaza dedicated to a King who they think suffered from Leprosy.

The French began restoring one of the largest of the temples in the city in the 60s, which involved taking it completely apart so that they could fix some of the broken pieces, etc. Then the civil war broke out and the Khmer Rouge reigned. Another one of the brilliant moves on the Khmer Rouge's part, was to destroy the plans for the temple- so now no one really knows how to put this building back together. They're figuring out the world's largest jigsaw puzzle then by looking at the one wall that hadn't been taken apart. By looking at that wall and studying other surrounding buildings, they've been able to work out how to put this thing back together again...for the most part.

There are also several areas that have been overtaken by the surrounding jungle. The trees have taken root on the walls of the temples and are pretty impressive themselves.

While we were in Siem Reap, Sarah got pretty sick. The hotel we were staying in everyone was really nice and helpful. They made us never ending tea and took great care of us. Of course, we were eating all of our meals in their restaurant, which I'm sure they didn't mid at all.
Also, we hired a Tuk Tuk driver to take us to all the temples for each day and the guy only charged us $10 a day (his price) and took us all over, and he was really nice as well. They Cambodian people were fantastic!

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