Angkor - part 1

My number one thing to do on the Southeast Asia leg of this trip was to visit the temples at Angkor. I'd of course heard of them, my parents had visited them & raved, and I just knew I would love them. I went ahead and booked a tuk-tuk driver through my guesthouse (which was really cool- called "Babel" and owned by some very socially conscious Norwegian folks). I decided to plan my visit by visiting the "lesser" and outer temples on day one, and then work my way up to sunrise at Angkor Wat (the largest religious building in the world) & the other "biggies" on day two.

I really can't adequately describe this magical place. It's almost as if you put all the temples you visit in Egypt into one small area (well, within about 30k of each other)- you can't really see from one to the next, even at the tops. Of course, these are about 1000 years younger & generally a bit smaller, so sometimes a bit better preserved, unless the jungle has taken over. Pol Pot was a seriously f'ed up guy, and he really just about destroyed Cambodia, but even he knew better than to destroy these marvels. In fact, it seems someone (I don't actually think the gov't currently runs the Angkor park- I kept overhearing guides saying something to the effect of a Vietnamese company actually having bought the rights & being in charge at this point?)- but whoever is doing some excellent conservation work- rebuilding fallen hallways & adding supports & that sort of thing. However, something very different to Egypt, they basically let you have the run of theses places. Occasionally there would be a sign to say watch out on this incredibly high ledge, or please don't climb the rubble to have your photo taken with this tree (roundly ignored), but mostly you could just lose yourself clambering around these places. Of course, you're constantly trying to dodge tour groups, most of which are Korean, Chinese, or Russian, none of whom are known for their considerate touring practices. In fact, at one point, I even saw some 10-ish year old Asian boy off to the side of his group, behind one of the partially fallen-down towers, literally picking bricks OFF the tower & throwing them down to the ground, in hopes of smashing them. Had it not been for the very steep & treacherous staircase between he & I, he would've gotten a smack from me, I promise you!

Anyway- it's amazing. I have nearly 300 photos, and really tried to narrow them down for publishing, but it's really hard. Here are my faves from day 1, including the particularly cool Banteay Srei (sp?) which is pretty far off in the country-side, and was commissioned by a monk, unlike kings for all the others. Another post will follow with day 2. If you want names, let me know- I bought a guide book there & have WAY too much detail on all of these! :)