Siem Reap 2014
9 hours by train. This is how much we have traveled from Bangkok to the border with Cambodia. This long travel in enormous heat, through the jungle and rice fields in a train filled with Thai and Cambodian people, was a truly local experience. When we finally got our visas, crossed the border and arrived in Siem Reap we took only a few hours of sleep to wake up at 5 and together with hundreds of other tourists watch the sunrise over Angkor Wat, one of the main temples of the ancient city of Angkor.
Ancient Angkor is a city-temple and one of the greatest temple complexes ever built. After the fall of the Khmer Empire, Angkor was abandoned and indomitable forever. After re-discovering at the beginning of the 20th century to preserve the character of the place most of the temple was decided to remain in the condition in which they were discovered.
Angkor Wat originally established to worship the Hindu god Vishnu was later converted into a complex of Buddhist temples. During which the temples attained sculptures representing Buddha.
Buddist Monks leaving the temple in Angkor Watt
After the death of Jayavarman VII, the Buddhist symbols were destroyed and the Hindu style was restored to temples. This explains why nowadays in Angkor you can spot decapitated sculptures of Buddha.
In Angkor you can appreciate some of the most impressive and oldest trees on Earth, which have survived for centuries mainly due to existence beyond the influence of civilization. Walking around Angkor I felt as if I existed in a different time and place.
The majestic trees woven into the walls are the remains of ancient species. Massive roots entwining the rocks and causing cracking of the stone walls of the temple to give this place an unreal atmosphere. Shiny leaves in the sun and bark of ancient sequoias give the impression of being covered with silver.
The trees grow mostly in unexpected places, paving their way between the wall of temples and rocks as if they were unaware of their surroundings, which makes me think that nature will always find a way to survive, even in these anthropocentric times of a man who considers himself as the purpose of the universe.
The area of Angkor extends over 400 km². It consists of cities, temple complexes, forests and water areas.
This is also the area where the warfare between Pol Pot Khmer and Vietnam took place and where each of the fighting sides used landmines.
The war finished, but landmines remained in the ground waiting for an explosion. The areas of cities and temples have been cleared by the UN. However, while visiting Cambodia everybody should keep in mind that despite ongoing demining and implementation of the anti-mine convention, Cambodia is still one of the most mined countries in the world. It is still dangerous to mangle paths in the jungle or walk in cultivated fields.
As a result, when traveling around Cambodia, we often met mutilated people. The majority of them lost their limbs on their fields while cultivating the soil. Some also lost family members as a result of explosions.
Currently, vocational or instrumental training is organized for the victims to make it possible to them making a living this way. They can be spotted in the temples of Angkor playing traditional music.
Nearby one of the largest tourist attractions in the world visited daily by hundreds of tourist, the daily life of Cambodians continues.