This weeks Travel Photo of the Week takes us inside the ancient temple complex of Angkor Wat in Cambodia where sunlight washes over the weathered face of an old man contemplating his cigarette. A quiet moment of reflection in an ancient temple as hordes of tourist stream by. Old enough to have lived through decades of war and genocide he takes a break in the stone window sill constructed by his ancestors. The smoke from his cigarette like that of joss stick incense rising slowly to the heavens carrying silent prayers. His country has emerged from the darkness and the days are now busy welcoming guests from around the world to the magnificence of Angkor Wat. Now a break in the day is how it should be…peaceful.
Cambodia is emerging as a hot new destination in southeast Asia. Anchored firmly by the UNESCO world heritage site of Angkor Wat and surrounding ancient temples. Listed as the world’s largest religious complex, the outside walls encompass 203 square acres. The central tower representing Mount Meru, a mythical place scared to both Hindus and Buddhists rises to a height of 213 feet. Nearly every possible piece of the five million tons of sandstone is carved with miles of bas-reliefs. One gallery alone has over one thousand square meters of beautifully carved reliefs. The monument was begun soon after King Suryavarman came to the throne in the early twelfth century and was stopped short after his death, less than 40 years later. Angkor Wat is so rooted in national identity that it’s image is on the flag, the currency and even the local beer. The scale and craftsmanship are truly awe inspiring and should be seen first hand to fully appreciate this amazing temple complex.
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