From Luang Prabang, we flew to Siem Reap, Cambodia, where the Khmer erected over a thousand temples from the 9th to the 15th century. Angkor Wat is the most famous of these temples. This region of Khmer temples is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
We joined a photography tour led by a former photographer for National Geographic. This small group worked out extremely well: covering a lot of ground, waking up early for sunrise photos, and getting along.
Only temples remain from the Khmer empire. Only religious building were built of stone and brick, and many of these have survived. Non-religious building were built of wood, and these have not survived the centuries. We’ll discuss temples by architectural period, starting with the earliest, called the Roluos Group.
The first Khmer Empire temples were built in the 9th century near the town of Roluos, so they’re called the Roluos Group. The early temples have brick towers like the Prasat Lolei tower shown above. Three of Lolei’s four brick towers are shown below. The tower on the left has a carved sandstone figure of a woman. Early Khmers were Hindu.
Today most Cambodians are Buddhists. We visited the Buddhist monastery at Lolei. The head monk majored in English literature in college. The posters and writing on the whiteboard are in English. The head monk designed and led construction of the dormitory.