The Stairs at Angkor Wat

Climbing the stairs at Angkor Wat

I have a lot of photos of the temples around Angkor, a couple of which I'll post in the next few days. This one leapt out at me from the first lot. Like some of my best photos, it was taken in haste with no realization of how good it might be. The stairs are steep - after all, it's difficult to get to your god, right?

Angkor Wat is about five kilometers from Siem Reap, in Cambodia. I didn't realize before I came here that there are sixty or so temples in the immediate area - Angkor Wat just happens to be the most famous one. It is also the symbol of the country, on the currency (the 500 riel bill), and on the flag. It represents the glory of the Khmer empire through to the 14th century, and that empire remains to this day the highpoint in Cambodia's history. The other temples were built during the same empire, over a period of about 500 years.

It's interesting to see the reactions of people to the time you can take in the Angkor area. Passes are available for one day ($20US), three days ($40US), and seven days ($60US). The pass is valid immediately, and must be used on consecutive days (which, in my opinion, sucks). Some people think one day is plenty - it's a big temple, who needs to see more? On the other hand, I got a three day pass and ran myself ragged seeing Angkor Wat, Ta Prohm, Banteay Srei, Ta Som, Kbal Spean, East Mebon, Preah Neak Pean, Prasat Preah Khan ... and possibly another couple I can't remember at the moment. The temples are spread over a large area and take time to get to. Depending on your level of interest, you can spend hours examining just one. And the heat is debilitating (I heard it was around 36 degrees Celsius two days ago, but I haven't seen a thermometer in months) - you move slowly, and take long breaks for water and lunch. I think three days was a good number for me - not because I had seen everything I wanted to (not even close), but because I've worn myself out. I'd like to come back for three more days, sometime when it's cool ...