This would be my second guided tour since retiring in the Fall of 2000. I toured three SE Asia countries with Cambodia as the first country. See through my eyes as I went on a Wilderness Travel adventure to see The Images of Cambodia during March 2002.
Cambodia, heir to Southeast Asia’s might Khmer Empire, is a country of palm-fringed rice paddies, thatched huts, and wonderful temples. Theravada Buddhism is the dominant religion, and Khmer is the official language. For over a century, the second language of choice was French, which is still spoken by many people who grew up before the 1970’s. English has recently surged in popularity.
While Angkor Wat is a tourist attraction it is still a place of worship for others including monks, nuns and other pilgrims.
Angkor Wat is also a beautiful backdrop for wealthy Cambodians to have weddings as this couple I met have done.
Cambodia’s classical dance is highly stylized. I have included a short clip of my adventures I have made it the backdrop to some wonderful still pictures of the Angkor Wat temple images that I took. The dances I videoed at the Sofitel Royal Angkor Hotel include an orchestra and some vocals.
The Angkor Wat complex of temples are covered with intricate bas-reliefs and scattered widely across a tropical landscape. They are lasting monuments to the glory of a bygone Khmer civilization.
The over 300 temples were built between the 9th and 13th centuries to glorify a succession of Khmer kings. They are basically a vast representation of Hindu cosmology and the Hindu-Buddhist universe, with all its symbolism. The grandest and most inspiring temple is the Angkor Wat itself, which one approaches on a road lined with huge, carved balustrades.
The Elephant Terraces are one of the areas that are being restored by various governments and non-governmental organizations including Japan, Germany, and UNESCO.
Most of Angkor was abandoned in the 15th century, and efforts were undertaken to clear away the jungle vegetation that threaten to completely destroy the monuments. The restoration by other governments and non-governmental organizations continues today.
At Angkor Thom, you can see how the vegetation has almost engulfed the temples there making restoration a difficult challenge.
Throughout the temple grounds you find musicians playing for donations and many of them have been victims of land mines.
This truck was loaded up after a day at the nearby market.
We stopped at this family compound where we were given a tour of their home which included a distillery where this woman gave us a taste of hard liquor distilled from coconuts. Like rocket fuel!