Angkor is not the only legacy left behind by the powerful Khmer civilization. Besides Angkor, almost all corners of Cambodia are adorned with equally amazing temple complexes such asAngkor Borei, Banteay Chmar, Sambor Prei Kuk, Koh Ker, and Beng Mealea  – each offering a unique angle in the interpretation of Khmer art, history, and culture (all of these, in fact, are on Cambodia’s Tenative List for potential WHS inclusion, too!). Among the Khmer ruins, however, my personal favorite is the Preah Vihear Temple (I’ll write a note on this site, too. Watch out!). So, going back to Angkor: what makes it unique then for it to deserve the praises it currently enjoys? The answer is rather simple – because everything is just special :p Angkor was the longest-running capital of the Khmer kingdom from the 9th century to the 14th century. Thus, the number and the scales of the temples and ensembles alone are already impressive, offering a unique collection of various Khmer architectural styles that eventually reached its perfection with the construction of Angkor Wat. By the way, let’s clarify something: Angkor Wat is just one of the ‘many’ temples in Angkor. In fact, If I were to recommend the ‘must sees’, be sure to visit and spend some time exploringBayon, the terraces in the royal grounds, Ta Prohm, Pre Rup, Banteay Srei, Sras Srang(after the repairs!), Prasat Kravan, Neak Pean, and, of course, Angkor Wat. The olderRoluos Group is also given special mention in the WHC dossier of Angkor, so its worth paying this a visit too. For some reasons, I appreciated Angkor Wat better in the late afternoon. The view of the temple at sunset is much better than the popular and obligatory sunrise visit wherein all tourists in Angkor are expected to start their day’s intineraries from. With more than 2,500,000 visitors from last year, the park never really runs out of people. This makes Angkor one of the most visited WHS in the world. This, of course, is good and bad. Very bad, in fact. Why ‘very bad’? It is because most of the tourists do not know how to respect the place at all! Carrying capacity is also a concept that needs to be introduced — and applied — in Angkor, FYI. Of all the many temples I have seen, the most unforgettable ones would be Bayon, the ‘almost secret’ ground alleys of the Terrace of the Leper King, and Prasat Kravan – the last two sites only receiving a handful of tourists (which is good as you can enjoy them all to yourself! Hah!). Bayon was constructed to represent the center of the Buddhist world. Situated in the center of the royal walled city called Angkor Thom, this is one of the most iconic monuments with its towers carved with the faces of the compasionate Lokeshvara. An often unexplored part of the Bayon would be its lower gallery’s bas-reliefs that suggest the drastic change from the then-dominant Hindu religion to Theravada Buddhism during Jayavarman II’s reign. The nearby Terrace of the Leper King brilliantly displays the intricate stonemasonry that ancient Khmers possessed. Prasat Kravan (which has a twin temple as well in Takeo province, the Prasat Neang Khmau), on the other hand, is probably one of the most under-appreciated temples in Angkor. I, however, think that it is one of the most unique. The painted brick-based bas-reliefs of Shiva inside the central tower are indeed a rare find. This temple also has a history much older than most! In fact, Prasat Kravan is one of the best examples – together with Banteay Srei – of restoration work done through the meticulous process of anastylosis. Although Angkor holds the record of being the largest pre-industrial metropolis in the world, it has to be recognized that Angkor is also a large hydropolis, a water world. In between the massive temples and trees, the water systems – barays and canals – are just as interesting and intriguing. One baray (artificial lake/reservoir) has the dimension of 8x3kms., all done through pure human labour. Ancient Khmers even changed the course of the Tonle Sap River several times! My in-house archeaologist friend Chenda (Yes, he has done a lot of digs in Angkor, and I was lucky enough to have him as my guide) explained to me the complex relationship of these reservoirs and the temples: Angkor Wat and the other temples are, apparently,inspired by the trees of the forest. Trees need water to survive, right? Since the materials in constructing the monuments are largely laterites and sandstones, they easily become brittle if totally dried out. A continuous supply of water from the ground would then provide the needed “food” for the stones to stay strong. Hence, the importance of barays and canals aside from being elements for defense. Ideally, one of the best exponents of the water system would be Sras Srang, the royal bath. Unfortunately, I never got to feel the amazement usually associated with the site as it was under ‘heavy’ renovation when I last visited. From a heritage perspective, I could only agree that Angkor is indeed one of the best cultural wonders the world has to offer. The whole 400-sq.km. Angkor Archaeological Park is definitely a top-notcher. _____________________________________________________________________________________ My free advise: I always find that watching a performance of the Royal Cambodian Ballet (Apsara Dance and Cultural Shows) complements well one’s visit to Angkor. After all, the Royal Cambodian Ballet is also in the registers of the ‘Masterpieces of Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity’.

Angkor is not the only legacy left behind by the powerful Khmer civilization. Besides Angkor, almost all corners of Cambodia are adorned with equally amazing temple complexes such asAngkor Borei, Banteay Chmar, Sambor Prei Kuk, Koh Ker, and Beng Mealea  – each offering a unique angle in the interpretation of Khmer art, history, and culture (all of these, in fact, are on Cambodia’s Tenative List for potential WHS inclusion, too!). Among the Khmer ruins, however, my personal favorite is the Preah Vihear Temple (I’ll write a note on this site, too. Watch out!). So, going back to Angkor: what makes it unique then for it to deserve the praises it currently enjoys? The answer is rather simple – because everything is just special :p Angkor was the longest-running capital of the Khmer kingdom from the 9th century to the 14th century. Thus, the number and the scales of the temples and ensembles alone are already impressive, offering a unique collection of various Khmer architectural styles that eventually reached its perfection with the construction of Angkor Wat. By the way, let’s clarify something: Angkor Wat is just one of the ‘many’ temples in Angkor. In fact, If I were to recommend the ‘must sees’, be sure to visit and spend some time exploringBayon, the terraces in the royal grounds, Ta Prohm, Pre Rup, Banteay Srei, Sras Srang(after the repairs!), Prasat Kravan, Neak Pean, and, of course, Angkor Wat. The olderRoluos Group is also given special mention in the WHC dossier of Angkor, so its worth paying this a visit too. For some reasons, I appreciated Angkor Wat better in the late afternoon. The view of the temple at sunset is much better than the popular and obligatory sunrise visit wherein all tourists in Angkor are expected to start their day’s intineraries from. With more than 2,500,000 visitors from last year, the park never really runs out of people. This makes Angkor one of the most visited WHS in the world. This, of course, is good and bad. Very bad, in fact. Why ‘very bad’? It is because most of the tourists do not know how to respect the place at all! Carrying capacity is also a concept that needs to be introduced — and applied — in Angkor, FYI. Of all the many temples I have seen, the most unforgettable ones would be Bayon, the ‘almost secret’ ground alleys of the Terrace of the Leper King, and Prasat Kravan – the last two sites only receiving a handful of tourists (which is good as you can enjoy them all to yourself! Hah!). Bayon was constructed to represent the center of the Buddhist world. Situated in the center of the royal walled city called Angkor Thom, this is one of the most iconic monuments with its towers carved with the faces of the compasionate Lokeshvara. An often unexplored part of the Bayon would be its lower gallery’s bas-reliefs that suggest the drastic change from the then-dominant Hindu religion to Theravada Buddhism during Jayavarman II’s reign. The nearby Terrace of the Leper King brilliantly displays the intricate stonemasonry that ancient Khmers possessed. Prasat Kravan (which has a twin temple as well in Takeo province, the Prasat Neang Khmau), on the other hand, is probably one of the most under-appreciated temples in Angkor. I, however, think that it is one of the most unique. The painted brick-based bas-reliefs of Shiva inside the central tower are indeed a rare find. This temple also has a history much older than most! In fact, Prasat Kravan is one of the best examples – together with Banteay Srei – of restoration work done through the meticulous process of anastylosis. Although Angkor holds the record of being the largest pre-industrial metropolis in the world, it has to be recognized that Angkor is also a large hydropolis, a water world. In between the massive temples and trees, the water systems – barays and canals – are just as interesting and intriguing. One baray (artificial lake/reservoir) has the dimension of 8x3kms., all done through pure human labour. Ancient Khmers even changed the course of the Tonle Sap River several times! My in-house archeaologist friend Chenda (Yes, he has done a lot of digs in Angkor, and I was lucky enough to have him as my guide) explained to me the complex relationship of these reservoirs and the temples: Angkor Wat and the other temples are, apparently,inspired by the trees of the forest. Trees need water to survive, right? Since the materials in constructing the monuments are largely laterites and sandstones, they easily become brittle if totally dried out. A continuous supply of water from the ground would then provide the needed “food” for the stones to stay strong. Hence, the importance of barays and canals aside from being elements for defense. Ideally, one of the best exponents of the water system would be Sras Srang, the royal bath. Unfortunately, I never got to feel the amazement usually associated with the site as it was under ‘heavy’ renovation when I last visited. From a heritage perspective, I could only agree that Angkor is indeed one of the best cultural wonders the world has to offer. The whole 400-sq.km. Angkor Archaeological Park is definitely a top-notcher. _____________________________________________________________________________________ My free advise: I always find that watching a performance of the Royal Cambodian Ballet (Apsara Dance and Cultural Shows) complements well one’s visit to Angkor. After all, the Royal Cambodian Ballet is also in the registers of the ‘Masterpieces of Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity’.
By Bernard Joseph Esposo Guerrero

http://gounesco.com.s3-ap-southeast-1.amazonaws.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/06164052/IMG_1951-1024x683.jpghttp://gounesco.com.s3-ap-southeast-1.amazonaws.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/06164052/IMG_1951-150x150.jpgBernard Joseph Esposo Guerrero
Angkor is not the only legacy left behind by the powerful Khmer civilization. Besides Angkor, almost all corners of Cambodia are adorned with equally amazing temple complexes such asAngkor Borei, Banteay Chmar, Sambor Prei Kuk, Koh Ker, and Beng Mealea  - each offering a unique angle in the interpretation of Khmer art, history, and culture (all of...