Friday, June 22, 2007

Jewel of the Jungle
The Smithsonian Magazine is offering an article online about Angkor (Cambodia), somewhere that is on my list of the top five places I really must visit in the next few years. It isn't really a news item, but it is a good and informative read.

The temple's precise, symmetrical beauty was unmistakable. The other tourists all faced the sun, watching in stillness and whispering in foreign tongues, as hundreds more arrived behind them. Angkor Wat at sunrise is a wondrous spectacle, one that I would return to several times during my stay in Cambodia.

. . . .

Although Angkor Wat is the largest and best known of these temples, it is but one of hundreds built by the kingdom of Angkor. Huge stone monuments scattered across hundreds of square miles of forest in northern Cambodia, the temples are the remains of a vast complex of deserted cities—which included manmade lakes, canals and bridges—that were astonishing in their size and artistic merit.

But piecing together information about the ancient Khmers who built them has not been easy for archaeologists and historians. The only written records that still exist are the inscriptions on the temple walls and the diary of a Chinese diplomat who visited Angkor in 1296. All administrative buildings and the homes of kings and commoners alike were made of wood; none have survived, leaving only the religious creations of brick and stone.

The article is accompanied by some good photogrpahs. Click on any one of the thumbnails, and then navigate through the others using the Previous and Next links to the bottom right of the image.