We took a little break from Bangkok, and flew up to Cambodia, a short 45 minute flight. We had to see Angkor Wat. This was the capital of the Khmer Empire for over 500 years, 800-1300AD. A million people lived here then, One of the great and remarkable civilizations of Asia. What makes this place so unusual is it contains the world’s largest concentration of religious monuments, over 60 square miles of religious temples and ruins, large deep moats, still with water, long narrow causeway’s in to these temple compounds. At the height of the Khmer civilization, they controlled all the way to the South China Sea, Laos, Burma, Thailand, and the Malay Peninsula. The temples were home to Hindu Gods Shiva and Vishnu, then later Buddhist kings added more elaborate architecture, some temples have both Buddhist and Hindu carvings. We both were moved by the jungle settings, the sacred feelings, the mysterious harmony, it’s surreal.
Today Cambodia is trying to inch forward after the Pol Pot years. Those times eliminated the educated, the wise, and the motivated, then it eliminated the few who were still loyal to the Khmer regime, paranoia ruled supreme. It will be a long while before this country heals. There is a Peace and Reconciliation Museum being planned with some of the people I am working with at UNESCO. I hope to be involved in a small way.
We loved the gentle open hearted people there, they have an elegance in the way they walk. The town of Siem Rep seems like a small village, compared to gritty Bangkok. We rented bikes and explored the town, small open air restaurants from the entire globe were represented. We ate Cambodia, and had the best meals of the whole trip so far. It was about 95 in the shade, we got to the ruins at 7am, the sun was already hot. Village ladies selling cut pineapples and cut up mangoes on the side of the road satisfied our thirst.