Cambodia
March 2002
The main road into the center of Siem Reap, the gateway town to the temple complexes. Tourism is growing, but Siem Reap is still a fairly quiet little hamlet, where motorbikes and bicycles are the primary means of transportation. It's also stunningly hot - this was early March, and the temperature routinely topped 100°
Prasat Kravan, a small temple from the 10th Century.
A carving inside Prasat Kravan, revealing its Hindu origins. The later temples were built to honor the Buddha, instead.
Many of the temples are virtually unprotected. Here, farm animals wander the grounds of Banteay Kdei, a 12th Century Buddhist temple. The farmers' huts are nestled in the trees around the temple.
For tourists too lazy to climb Phnom Bakeng on foot, there are options.
Angkor Wat is surrounded by a moat, perhaps 150 meters wide, running a full kilometer along each side of the square temple complex.
Once you cross the outer causeway, an entrance gate reveals the inner causeway, over 300 meters long. At the height of the rainy season, this inner area also fills with water.
Angkor Wat dates to the early 12th Century, and is a Hindu temple. The locals, however, have decorated Shiva with traditional Buddhist trappings, and worship the statue as the Buddha.
An apsara, or heavenly nymph, on the outer wall of Angkor.
Dawn at Angkor Wat.
The back of Angkor Wat. This area is water-filled during the rainy season.
A seven-headed naga, or snake, carved in stone. Each balustrade at Angkor consists of a carved naga.
A small inner courtyard at Angkor. Tourists can wander and climb around inside the temple to their hearts' content.
A processional avenue and entrance gate, leading to Angkor Thom.
The gate to Angkor Thom, the face of the Buddha looking out in each direction.
The Bayon temple of Angkor Thom, somewhat smaller than Angkor Wat, is a Buddhist temple dating to the late 12th Century.
The face of the Buddha is carved onto each side of each tower at Bayon.
Another Bayon Buddha, one of scores on the temple.
Banteay Srei, a small Hindu temple reachable only by a 20km trip along rutted dirt roads beyond Siem Reap. The rigors of that voyage mean that this temple is less-visited, and the peaceful jungle setting is enchanting.
The main entrance to Banteay Srei.
One of the structures inside Banteay Srei.
The exuberant carvings in Banteay Srei, in pink and orange sandstone.
We stopped to photograph an ox cart in a yard, and ended up visiting the owner and his family. They're rice farmers, but in the dry season, there's not much to do. They refine sugar cane, and wrap it in banana leaves to sell in town.
The rice farmer and part of his family. They don't get many visitors, and the children seemed to be curious, but bewildered, by our presence.
The classic lion of Cambodia, guarding the entrance to East Mebon.
Lions aren't enough protection - each corner of East Mebon has its elephant.
School's out! Let's gawk at the tall, bearded, sunburned tourist!
An apprentice woodcarver at a trade school in Siem Reap.
The market district of Siem Reap.
The gateway to Ta Prohm. The faces of the Buddha are a tip-off to its era.
The pit band on the path to Ta Prohm.
Unlike the other temples, Ta Prohm, a Buddhist monastery from the late 12th Century, has been left largely as it was found, with the jungle threatening to swallow it.
The roots of fig, banyan, and kapok trees grip one of the buildings in Ta Prohm.
These tree roots can be over a half-meter in diameter.
The roots gradually push the stones apart.
A doorway survives, in spite of the vegetation.
Another contest.
A glance back at Ta Prohm.
Ta Keo, our last stop in Cambodia.