From Sesame Street back to Cambodia, this blog is all about diversity! While I wish every week could be spent exploring far flung locations of the world, I know my boys also appreciate the weekends spent close to home. By traveling extensively and taking advantage of local offerings, we hope to give our kids a childhood rich in diverse experiences. And it’s experiences, not things that really matter.
One of my favorite vacation photos yet is this one of Finnegan at Bayon Temple.
Before we started planning our trip to Cambodia, I didn’t know much about Angkor Wat, which is the largest religious monument in the world. I didn’t realize the vast area over which these Khmer structures have been found and the diversity of the architecture. According to the UNESCO world heritage website, the Angkor temples are spread over 150 square miles. These ancient cities served as the various capitals of the Khmer Empire from the 9th century to the 15th century.
While Angkor Wat is the namesake temple, there are hundreds of temples and it’s not possible to visit all of them. We spent two days visiting various sites and temples, which was the perfect introduction for us especially since we were traveling with Finnegan (who was 20 months old at the time).
Our guide told us that it took 37 years to build Angkor Wat, which I think is actually pretty impressive speed given the intricate carvings that covered every square centimeter of the building.
It was originally built as a Hindu temple dedicated to Vishnu, but Buddhism became the more prominent religion towards the end of the Angkor period. There are many examples in the various temples of images of the Hindu gods being destroyed or replaced with Buddhist images.
Here are some images of our favorite temples and structures, which provides a small glimpse of the diversity of the art and architecture:
Entrance to Angkor Thom
Now look closer at those towers of Bayon Temple. There were originally 54 towers of which 37 are still standing today. Most are carved with four faces on each cardinal point.
Ta Prohm – left in largely the same condition as it was found with jungle trees growing out of the ruins. Part of Tomb Raider was filmed at this temple. As one of the most visited temples, it did feel a bit crowded at times, but I’m still glad we included it in our itinerary.
Banteay Srei – built of red sandstone so it has a different color than the other temples and the carvings are very intricate. It was a longer drive from Siem Reap to reach this temple, but worth the effort.
Besides admiring the temples, Finnegan kept busy by playing with rocks….
watching the monkeys…..
meeting new friends….
playing in the dirt (and generally attracting crowds)…..
and when he got too hot, he managed to find strangers willing to fan him.
Guide and Logistics
You can wait and book a guide to show you the temples when you arrive, but as a relentless researcher and planner, I didn’t want to risk the luck of the draw. We used the guide Eath (David) Sovann that came highly recommended from the Fodor’s travel forum. His English was great and his car was well air conditioned. He picked us at 8AM each morning and we toured for several hours. He would then drop us off at the hotel to rest during the hottest part of the day before picking us back up again at 2:30. This schedule works out perfectly for a napping toddler. David’s email address is email@example.com and we found him to be very responsive and his rates were very reasonable.
Which temple is your favorite?
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