Angkor Thom

I was much more impressed by our next stop, Angkor Thom, with its massive gateways and giant statue lineups. (That’s just one of five in the picture above.) A.T. was actually a fortified city in the late 12th century, built by King Jayavarman VII (the same guy who built Ta Prohm), and very, very big. Ten square kilometers big.

The Bayon was my favorite section, by far – a three-tiered structure featuring 54 gothic towers with 216 giant smiling faces carved into them. The whole place is pretty carved up, actually, and the scope and detail of the work, which covered almost every surface, kind of blew my mind. No, wait, it TOTALLY blew my mind. The Bayon’s exact function and symbolism are still unknown today, which adds to its mystique, but who needs mystery when you’ve got looks like this?

bas-relief depicting everyday 12th-century Cambodian life

second-level courtyard

look closely, see the faces

puzzle-like stones set aside for the reconstruction

crazy steep staircase

And a short walk away from the Bayon: the pyramid-like Phimeanakas.

the view from the top of the stairs

And walking a bit further:

big tree takeover at Preah Palilay

Oh, and earlier, we saw elephants.

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