Jungle gem

A travel feature on the sites of the Angkor Archaeological park, focusing on the Bayon and Ta Prohm. Tourists planning a visit to Angkor might get a tip or two from this firsthand account.

1 April 2007 (St Louis Post-Despatch) – A travel feature on the sites of the Angkor Archaeological park, focusing on the Bayon and Ta Prohm. Tourists planning a visit to Angkor might get a tip or two from this firsthand account.

Jungle gem

The traffic at the South Gate was hectic. Pedestrians clogged the narrow bridge as motor scooters veered in and out, coming close but always just missing a startled tourist or two. Cabs, buses and minivans maneuvered through the gawkers, most with awestruck looks on their faces and cameras slung around their necks. But whether on foot or on wheels, everyone moved to the side to let the lumbering elephant caravans through.

It was a typical morning at Angkor Wat, the ancient capital of the Khmer kings in modern-day Cambodia and reportedly the largest religious monument in the world.

From one glance at the South Gate, we knew we were entering someplace very special and important. Leading to the portal, on both sides of the road, was a line of stone figures, each one clasping the body of the Naga, a long serpent, holding it in their grasp for eternity. The gate itself was imposing and ornate, with four faces of the Buddha smiling down on all those who entered. As we passed through the gate, monkeys scampered among the stones.

The South Gate is a majestic sight, one that prompts a sudden gasp and then a whispered “ohmigod” when first seen. Yet even so, it couldn’t quite prepare us for how vast and monumental Angkor Archeological Park is.


Related Books:
Angkor Cities and Temples by C. Jaques
Angkor: A Tour of the Monuments by T. Zephir and L. Invernizzi
The Treasures of Angkor: Cultural Travel Guide (Rizzoli Art Guide) by M. Albanese

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Author: Noel Tan

Dr Noel Hidalgo Tan is the Senior Specialist in Archaeology at SEAMEO-SPAFA, the Southeast Asian Regional Centre for Archaelogy and Fine Arts.

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