Written by Lily Newton, Kerry Snyder, Louis Staat, and Lauren Wilson
Today our group had the chance to explore not one, but multiple temples in the Angkor Complex. We woke up early to be the first ones at Ta Prohm, the site where the movie Tomb Raider was filmed. Trees can be found growing amongst the walls of this ancient site, giving it a very natural, peaceful feeling. It was a great experience to explore this beautiful and ancient treasure before it became crowded with other tourists. Our second temple visit was to Bayon, which is part of Ankor Thom, King Layavarman’s ancient capital. We felt as if we were constantly being watched because of the giant stone faces carved all over the many towers. Many of us enjoyed observing and photographing the macaques, which wander freely over the grounds. Despite their innocent appearance, these creatures can be vicious and are known to bite those who get too close. After avoiding one of these tricksters, Dr. Bowman realized that he had left his water bottle behind. The monkey picked it up, drank, and, deciding that it wasn’t to his liking, promptly threw it away!
We ventured to one more temple after lunch, Banteay Srei This site used to be home to women warriors. Pink sandstone was used to construct the beautiful walls of this structure, giving them a distinct color we had not yet seen. All of the temples were stunning, but it was sad to see that some of the carvings and statues gone from being stolen to be sold on the black market.
The last event of the day was visiting the Land Mine Museum started by Aki Ra, an ex Khmer-Rouge soldier who was once in charge of planting land mines. He regrets his contribution to the problems with landmines in Cambodia, so he now contributes to their removal and works to help land mine victims.
Taking a break at Bayon to enjoy the view (Photo Cred: Kerry Snyder)
Example of a stolen carving (Photo Cred: Lauren Wilson)
Inhabitants of the temple waiting to cause more trouble (Photo Cred: Lauren Wilson)
The faces were carved to be guardians of the temple (Photo Cred: Lauren Wilson)