Today, we visited the magnificent and ancient Cambodian temple of Angkor Wat.
We had to get up at 4am to see the sunrise at Angkor Wat, so we were all really groggy and tired when we got to Angkor Wat, but we all perked up when we saw the huge silhouettes of the five giant towers.
We all got out of the car and were instantly drenched by pouring rain. We all grabbed umbrellas from our guide and ran to the spot where we could see the temple during the sunrise. We sat for about half an hour watching the sky get brighter and brighter behind the temple. After we watched the sunrise, we all headed into the temple and looked at a huge wall that was covered in carvings of Hindu people and wars. Before the temple was Buddhist, it was a Hindu temple. In some of the walls there were bullet holes from AK-47’s from the Khmer Rouge fighters. Our guide told us that during the time of the Khmer Rouge, the Khmer Rouge used Angkor Watt as their barracks, and soldiers used precious, historic pieces of art for targets. Also, since the Khmer Rouge hated religion, they sliced off many the heads of the Buddha statues, and sold all the heads to Thailand. To this day, only seven heads have been returned to Angkor Wat. We learned that Cambodia couldn’t take care of Angkor Wat, so they sold the rights to a Vietnamese company that manages it and collects ticket money.
When we walked inside of the temple we walked through many different statues and colors, and paintings. We got to walk up these really steep stairs to the private third level of the temple where all the five towers rested. Our guide is an architect and he arranged for a private tour, where we were the only people allowed and it was awesome to have the whole top level for just us.
The five towers were built to represent the Hindu Meru mountains (I was told it was the equivalent as Mount Olympus for the Greeks). Inside of each tower, there was a small chamber where there was a Buddha statue. Inside the area between each of the towers, there were four courtyards. Each used to be a swimming pool. Each pool represented each element: Earth, Water, Fire and Wind. When we walked down, we were told that there were many entrances to get to the top for the average people that were super steep and dangerous, and one entrance for the King, that was pretty much just like a normal staircase but only he could use it. So then the average people had to take the perilous and steep steps, while the King took the easy stairs. We got to climb them ourselves, and if there wasn’t railings, it would be really hard.
After going to the top level, we exited the temple and walked out onto the main entrance and we had an amazing view of the temple. We kept walking out the front gate of the temple and then met up with the car. Then, we got into the car and drove to the place where we were going to get to ride elephants. When we got there, we saw the elephants and it was super cool, because the only time we’d ever seen elephants was in a zoo, except for Dad who got chased by one in Kenya. Before we went on the elephants, we all ran to the bathroom, except we were beat by a group of Chinese tourists 100 strong. After that, we all got on the elephants, and it was so cool!
We walked for about a mile looking at all of these trees and animals We even saw some monkeys! Then, we finally got to the spot where we had to get off. Before we left, we got to feed the elephants a pineapple each. They sucked it into their nose, and the put it into their mouth, and ate it whole.
I was really amazed at the amazing architecture and all of the intricate designs at Angkor Wat. I really enjoyed visiting the old temple, and I thought it was amazing how 900 years ago people made such amazing temples. Angkor Wat was built for Vishnu (The Hindu god of Protection) and the temple was built by King Suryavarman in the early 12th century. Angkor Wat was built as a capital, a war base and a religious monument. Up to 1 million people lived there and it was the biggest city of it’s time.
We had an awesome day exploring Angkor Wat and riding elephants.
Here is a cool Google photo story dad created: https://goo.gl/photos/c67fzVa1ihKQBZNH6
In the afternoon, we had to go back to our room to study and do our homework with Ryan but mom and dad went to Ta Phrom temple and Baphoun. Here are some pictures there.