"Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not."
Angkor's greatest marvel, the Angkor Wat is a massive three-tiered pyramid crowned by a quicunx of lotus-like towers rising 65 meters from ground level. It was initially constructed as a temple-mountain for the Hindu god Vishnu as King Suryavarman's gateway to afterlife. It later on served as a Buddhist temple around the 14th century when the Khmers fled from the city.
It was the very first agenda of our first day in Angkor waking up around 5AM to catch the sunrise by the northern reflecting pool. The sun rises behind the Angkor Wat providing a distinctive silhouette against the colored sky. Here's one of the nice shot from Sir Rey's cam.
If you noticed the green-ish part somewhere in the picture, restoration efforts are being carried out in this massive complex that is described as the largest religious monument in the world (larger than any European cathedral!). This is just appropriate considering the influx of tourists in the city per year, a whopping average of 1M! I mean, just look at the other tourists with us here. Yay!
We lingered around the area 'til around 7 AM enough to notice some aspects of the mega structure - like how as early as in those time Khmer engineers were already employing the corbeling technique to construct arches.
Or how it was built using tons of laterites encased in sandstones joint seamlessly without any mortar or cement as these would affect the carving of the delicate bas-reliefs.
Bas-reliefs (pronounced with a silent s in bas) is a sculpture term for figures that project slightly from the background. These reliefs are visible on most walls of the structure and depicts many stories such as mythological and historical battles. Also present are fine carvings of apsaras that experts estimate took half of the amount of time that took to built the Angkor Wat (35 years) by highly-skilled artisans.
Though the Angkor Wat is considered one of the most amazing engineering projects in the world, another engineering feat is the construction of the moat that surrounds the temple. It only took a national geographic documentary to inform me that the temple is like a ship floating on a subterranean water and helped protect the temple from being encroached by the jungle. I mean I'm no architect myself but this is a stroke of engineering brilliance! And because only an aerial shot would be possible, I took the liberty to grab something from the web!
Another thing that I found simply stunning that wasn't highlighted in any of the websites or documentary that I read or watched is this tree located just outside the entrance of the structure. I can watch its leaves dancing to the wind forever! :)
Wow, this is just like the first part coverage of our visit. To be honest, we didn't get that much on our 2nd visit which happened on our last day since we were already too tired from exploring all the other temples that I covered here. Haha!
You know that relationship quote? "You learn more about someone at the end of a relationship than at the beginning." This always happen to me whenever I travel, haha! And that is why I love blogging my trips. Sometimes I don't really get the best of it during the trip itself but hey, reading afterwards could help! :P Now I just really wished we hired a tour guide during the Angkor Wat to explain those bas-reliefs! :P