Angkor Wat was the first temple we visited on our first full day in Siem Reap. It is the largest temple by far. It has a huge grand entrance and then another long walkway to the main temple.
Angkor Wat (Khmer: អង្គរវត្ត or "Capital Temple") was first a Hindu, later a Buddhist, temple complex in Cambodia and the largest religious monument in the world. The temple was built by the Khmer King Suryavarman II in the early 12th century in Yaśodharapura(Khmer: យសោធរបុរៈ, present-day Angkor), the capital of the Khmer Empire, as his state temple and eventual mausoleum. Breaking from the Shaiva tradition of previous kings, Angkor Wat was instead dedicated to Vishnu. As the best-preserved temple at the site, it is the only one to have remained a significant religious center since its foundation. The temple is at the top of the high classical style ofKhmer architecture. It has become a symbol of Cambodia, appearing on its national flag, and it is the country's prime attraction for visitors.
Angkor Wat combines two basic plans of Khmer temple architecture: the temple-mountain and the later galleried temple, based on early Dravidian architecture, with key features such as the Jagati. It is designed to represent Mount Meru, home of the devas inHindu mythology: within a moat and an outer wall 3.6 kilometres (2.2 mi) long are three rectangular galleries, each raised above the next. At the centre of the temple stands a quincunx of towers. Unlike most Angkorian temples, Angkor Wat is oriented to the west; scholars are divided as to the significance of this. The temple is admired for the grandeur and harmony of the architecture, its extensive bas-reliefs, and for the numerous devatas adorning its walls.
The modern name, Angkor Wat, means "Temple City" or "City of Temples" in Khmer; Angkor, meaning "city" or "capital city", is a vernacular form of the word nokor (នគរ), which comes from the Sanskrit word nagara (नगर). Wat is the Khmer word for "temple grounds" (Sanskrit: वाट vāṭa ""enclosure").
We decided to pay a guide to show us around Angkor. It was a good decision because he told us about all of Siem Reap and we were able to notice things he had told us as we went throughout Siem Reap over the next couple of days.
Here's our guide explaining the myth behind one of the reliefs to Ryan.
There were four of these pools in which water was collected. They represent the four elements: earth, water, air, and fire; even though they were all filled with water.
All of the staircases in all of the temples are very steep. This signifies that the way to heaven is not easy.
As we finished up our tour and said farewell to our guide, we needed to use the restroom. We found one and while we were at it took a beverage break. While we were sitting down, vendors from the stalls around us were calling at us to come and buy their goods. We did end up buying a few things and then I remembered that we had brought a little something to give back.
In our preparation to visit Cambodia, we talked about how we could help out some people while we were there. Shopping at the stalls is part of it, but it's also a big part of the poverty problem. When children make money for their families by selling goods, they're less likely to attend school because they're more valuable to their families. The boys decided to pack some extra toys that they were done playing with. When the time was right, we hoped to hand them out.
I told Evan to choose a toy for each child (there were about 5 kids trying to sell us postcards) and had it to him/her. As we reached into our bag to retrieve the toys, more kids showed up. Suddenly Evan was surrounded and I think it scared him a little. We ran out of toys before we were able to give everyone one but I think it made my kids realize how happy they made another child.
This little boy was waiting for a toy. I had a finger puppet and I wanted to show him how to use it so I took his finger and placed the puppet onto it. His face lit up in delight at the toy. All of the kids ran off to play and it was a great experience for my boys to witness.