I spent two days exploring the temples of Angkor Wat and surrounding areas.
I've seen the Pyramids in Egypt, the Parthenon in Athens, the Great Wall of China, and the Rome Colleseum, but I think the Temples of Angkor Wat beat them all.
Think of the world in the 8th to 15th century, when they were burning witches in Britain, and Australia and America hadn't been discovered.
Remember the stories of how the people of Cambodia recently suffered the savagery of Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge, and are now considered a third world country.
And now reconcile this with the creation of the magnificent temples of Angkor Wat, and the fact that the population walked away from them, and they were overgrown by the jungle and lost to the world until they were rediscovered by a Frenchman in the 19th Century.
The largest is on seven levels, and although the walls are covered in sanscript, etchings and carvings, like the pyramids, they left no record of how they were constructed.
After centuries of abandonment, they were severely damaged and many had collapsed, but restoration under the control of UNESCO by a number of countries has cleared much of the forest and restored many of the buildings. The area is so vast that it will probably take centuries before they are near finished. The facade of most of the temples is covered in a pale green - grey sandstone, much of which has blackened with age. But you can still visualise what it would have been like in its original state. If you haven't been there, put it on your list of "must do".
For more pictures of Ankor Wat, go here.
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