Modern Cambodia is a story of the sublime and the ridiculously difficult. Corruption, poverty, extreme begging and, in the living memory of many, the horrific recent past under the Khmer Rouge mixes with a gentle and proud culture, harbouring a more distant and glorious history when the Khmer Empire were “the Romans of Asia” an their capital was the unparalleled city of Angkor.
Siam Reap, the town that serves as the tourist stay for the magnificent temples of Angkor, is so equally crammed full of beggars, street kids working at all hours, and potential scams that we were initially put on the back foot, despite six months in many developing countries. Fortunately, we were able to visit a centre called ConCERT which is committed to co-ordinating anti-poverty NGOs in Cambodia and providing some of the best responsible tourism advise we’ve been given on our travels. Please click here to take a look at their site.
And so to the temples themselves! We had by now met up with Helen’s brother Mark and had set aside two days to visit as many of the sites as we could, both by tuk-tuk and by bike. The temples, built between the 9th and 15th centuries are all that remain of the Khmer capital cities situated at Angkor and are the great enduring legacy of the Angkor Kingdoms, which fluctuated between Hinduism and Buddhism several times. The historical and religious elements are complex (for further Wikipedia reading, click here…) so for now, here are some of the images of these daunting structures in the jungle: