After our beautiful, early morning visit at Angkor Wat, we hopped into our tuk-tuk. Our driver, Mr. Sim, whisked us away to our next destination, Bayon Temple, before the bulk of tourists had emerged from their walk around Angkor Wat. We all had big grins on our faces as we drove through the Angkor forest, enjoying its coolness and the wind on our faces. Mr. Sim pulled over as we approached the south gate of Angkor Thom, allowing us to take a quick family picture.
We continued through the gate and entered the remains of the great capital city, Angkor Thom. At the center of the city lies the temple Prasat Bayon, constructed by Jayavarman VII back in the 12-13th centuries. Walking up to the temple, we are intensely aware of the silent eyes peering down at us from all over the temple. The most distinctive feature of the temple is the 216 large stone faces constructed on all the faces of the temple. According to the Wikipedia entry, the faces may be a likeness of Jayavarman VII himself.
Walking around the temple and through its labyrinthine corridors, we are impressed by the architectural skill of the ancient Khmer builders. The intricate carvings around some of the lower walls are fascinating to observe. Our son really felt like an archaeologist at this one – we all did! We also found here that he really engages with his surroundings when he is allowed to photograph or video his tour around the temples. He does a fascinating narration, although the videos are still a bit shaky.
As we work our way up the steep central stairs, we notice that the crowds are beginning to pick up just a bit. After enjoying the views from the top and capturing a few more images, we all decide it’s time to head to our next destination. As we walk up, Mr. Sim greets us with his usual giant smile and asks us, “How did you like the temple?”. Telling him we loved it just doesn’t seem to convey the feeling strongly enough, but hopefully our giant smiles send the message for us.