March 18, 2009


Covering over four hundred square miles of temples, the ancient Angkor empire once had a population estimated to be over one million and covered an area the size of New York city. The stone temples were constructed by powerful Khmer kings as self-glorification monuments and as a dwelling for their Gods. I doubt the king himself did much of the construction, he probably awoke one morning and, after the customary breakfast bowl of rice, declared, "I have a great idea, and it’s going to take hundreds of years of back-breaking work for my loyal servants to make benefit glorious nation of Khmer".

In the ninth century work began and finally finished in the thirteenth century with the largest religious structure in the world. Each subsequent king would declare, "I have an even bigger, grander idea", and so for three hundred years each new king tried to out-do the last.

In the fifteenth century, the newly-emerged Siamese kingdom invaded, almost everyone was wiped out and the jungle reclaimed the temples. The temples remained a secret only known by the local population until nineteenth century French explorers returned with sketches of the ruins, making out they had discovered them! The Western world woke up and so began the tours, touts and thefts…

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