Where We Be
|Bayon temple -- the temple at the center of Angkor Thom -- is primarily known for its giant
heads that stare down at you, sometimes benignly and sometimes with a hint of disdain
|Bayon, the temple-mountain, rises up at the center of Angkor Thom. Even from
a distance you can make out the huge faces on the pillars rising from the top.
|Getting to the top of all the pancaked layers of Baphuon requires some steep climbing
|Looking out from an ornately decorated window near the top of Baphuon
|The pyramid summit of Baphuon is off-limits for climbing
|The Terrace of the Leper King has some of the most ornate sculpture we've seen in Cambodia
|The walls of the Leper King Terrace are deeply carved with seated gods and goddesses
|Be sure not to miss a walk through this double-walled extravaganza of ancient sculpture
|This is the Leper-King (the statue was "leprous" with moss and lichen when discovered).
However, the name is a misnomer; it's actually a statue of Yama, Lord of the Dead.
Why the Lord of the Dead has a can of Coke in front of him remains a mystery!
|Huge gates mark the four entrances to Angkor Thom at north, south, east,
and west. The south gate is located about 2 km north of Angkor Wat.
|Outside each gate is a bridge crossing over an ancient moat. A row of statues decorates each bridge. Note that the original heads and
bodies are dark, whereas newer (reconstructed) heads are white. Many of the original heads are now in the Angkor National Museum.
|Phimeanakas is a smaller Hindu temple in a wooded setting; it was once located in the middle of the old Royal Palace
|This rectangular pool was once the royal baths
|The last notable stop in Angkor Thom is located near the parking area: the Elephant Terrace and Leper King Terrace
|King Jayavarman VII used the Terrace of the Elephants as a platform from which to view his victorious returning army
|This Picasso-esque section of wall is a jumble of mixed images
|Many Big Brothers are watching
|There's a good chance this is the visage of Jayavarman VII, the powerful Khmer king who oversaw the building of Bayon
|After Bayon you follow the "Angkor Thom tourist flow" past Preah Ngok Pagoda
with its Buddha statue. Then it's on to the next major site, Baphuon Temple.
|Baphuon, "the world's largest jigsaw puzzle," was completely disassembled and reassembled by archaeologists.
What made it tricky was that the master plans for reassembly were destroyed during the Khmer Rouge conflict!
|Large pieces of "puzzle poo" are still strewn about the site. These pieces didn't quite fit with
the original temple construction and may have represented later add-ons to the temple.
|Just inside the gates are parks, forests, lakes, and waterways. Angkor Thom is BIG at 9 km squared --
although thankfully most of the major sights are grouped within walking distance near the center.
Just 2 km north of Angkor Wat is the ancient
walled city of Angkor Thom. This huge complex
-- nearly 10 square kilometers in size! -- is filled
with parks, forests, temples, and monuments. It
was the last capital city of the Khmer empire,
built by Jayavarman VII in the late 12th century
AD. At its center is the "temple mountain" of
Bayon, with all the other major sights located
within reasonable walking distance. Our tuk-tuk
driver let us out at Bayon and pointed out our
endpoint in the near distance; this would be
our area to explore over the next two hours.
Bayon is a large temple with enormous heads
carved onto the pillars. The huge heads are the
main thing the temple is known for; they smile
down at you benignly in regal splendor. The
heads adorn all four sides of each pillar so
there's no getting away from them. There's also
no getting away from the crush of tourists at
"prime time" (9-11 am), so try to visit off-peak.
Another key site is Baphuon temple, sometimes
called the world's largest jigsaw puzzle. It was
completely disassembled by archaeologists
who then lost their map for putting it back
together during the Khmer Rouge conflict. To
this day the site is surrounded by "puzzle poo,"
random stones from later temple add-ons that
are missing a home in the reassembled jigsaw.
|Bas reliefs tell an ancient story
|Phimeanakas Temple & Royal Palace
|Ancient doorway near the old Royal Palace
|Elephant Terrace & Leper King Terrace