By Samir

After seeing part of Angkor, we decided to see an Apsara dance show in the evening. We went to a restaurant in town, which had an impressive array of foods for the dinner buffet, followed by a one-hour show comprising multiple dances to traditional songs. Apsaras, meaning “heavenly nymphs”, are shown on many of the carvings of Angkor, and in paintings all over the country.

After a day of rest, day 2 of our journey to the Angkor complex revolved around Angkor Thom, which is a square measuring 1.5 kilometers by 1.3 kilometers. History says that Angkor Thom was once a city housing one million people, which is especially interesting because the population of London, England at that point in history was less than 50,000.

We skipped many of the smaller village temples inside Angkor Thom, which dominated much of the complex. The one million people lived in wooden houses surrounding these smaller stone temples for their individual villages. The wooden structures have not survived the test of time, though many of the village temples were visible from a distance. We were determined to see the bigger structures within Angkor Thom in the afternoon. We had wanted to see the sunset, but after waiting an hour and still having been too early (we arrived at the time suggested by our tuk tuk driver), we gave up and went back into town.

First stop was the Baphuon Temple:

Notice the long entryway, without any handrails

Not built for 6 foot tall Americans

Restoration work has found that one wall along the back of the temple had been stacked to look like a reclining Buddha. Some of it has been re-set:

After the Phimeanakas Royal Palace (we didn’t feel like climbing up the steep stairs in the heat), we headed over to the Leper Terrace and the Elephant Terrace:

Apsara carvings at the Leper Terrace

I really like the elephant trunks that frame the stairs

And then we went to Bayon, which has over 200 faces on the towers of the temple, and is probably the pride of the Angkor Thom complex.

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restored heads alongside original heads at the South Gate to Angkor Thom

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