The road to Angkor Thom passes over a causeway lined with devas (gods) on the left and asuras (demigod/ demons) on the right. The gates lead to the last Imperial city, where Bayon temple –most noted for the smiling faces of Buddha–sits at its center. The bodhisattva statues should be one of the seven wonders of the world, the detailed and exacting efforts to create emotion and facial expressions through the placement of each stone a complex puzzle of shade and gradient are truly miraculous.
A quick walk of the Terrace of the Elephants and Terrace of the Leper Kings which flank the Royal Square. After six hours of nonstop temple touring the only sign you need is the one pointing to the WC. I wish I had thought of a better way to signal my driver and guide. We had agreed to meet at the big tree on the crossroads but that proved way more difficult than anticipated at the high heat of the day, especially without cellular connectivity. There must be a hundred tuk-tuk drivers under the boughs of the tree.
The last stop of the day: Ta Prohm, the forest covered royal temple monastery of Angkor. Two trees support the core of the structure, the silk cotton and strangler fig species both of which take root and work their way through the masonry. The site is maintained in ‘apparent neglect’ as an example of the natural state in which Angkor was discovered in the early 19th century.
From a photo perspective, I’m not certain that any image capture can do it justice. The natural effects on the landscape are something to be seen in-person. And it is forever changing, as trees are affected by storms, as they flourish and then die.