Category Archives: Cambodia

Phenomenal Penh

Phenomenal Penh

For someone my age, the name Phnom Penh conjures up images of a long, far-away, disastrous war. So I had no idea what to expect from Cambodia’s capital. Arriving in the dark after a bumpy, dusty 8-hour bus ride from Siem Reap didn’t offer any immediate impressions of the city. Read More

700-Year-Old Words That Still Ring True

700-Year-Old Words That Still Ring True

The only written records of ancient Cambodia that survive today are inscriptions on temple walls and the account of a Chinese ambassador, Zhou Daguan, who visited the court at Angkor Wat in 1296. Reading his descriptions of the country, its famous temples, and the everyday life of its villagers, one is struck by how much… Read More

Everyday Life in Cambodia

Everyday Life in Cambodia

Cambodians have a reputation for eating almost everything that grows, walks, flies, or swims in their country. And because this is such a fertile and well-watered land, that means a lot of different things pass a Cambodian’s lips (often accompanied by the national staple, white rice). Read More

Our Final Angkor Temples

Our Final Angkor Temples

Some 60 kilometers from flat Siem Reap, on the side of the Kulen Mountains, is one of the most remarkable ancient Khmer sites: not a soaring temple but a splashing river whose sandstone bed was carved with Hindu imagery, sanctifying the water as it flowed over the holy images. Read More

Angkor Wat: Summit of the Universe

Angkor Wat: Summit of the Universe

Like many other people, I’m guilty of using the name Angkor Wat to refer to the whole complex of ancient Khmer temples found near Siem Reap, Cambodia. But Angkor Wat is a single, specific temple—the biggest and, arguably, the best. It was built between 1113 and 1150, during the height of the Khmer empire’s power.… Read More

Life on the Great Lake

Life on the Great Lake

As we flew into Cambodia on the plane, our first impression was of a land underwater. As far as the eye could see in this flat country, there were flooded fields, swollen rivers, submerged forests, and an enormous lake. Read More

Gallery: Floating Village

During Cambodia’s dry season, the village of Kompong Khleang has a dirt road running down the middle and canals on either side, leading to the Tonle Sap lake. Like other villages, it’s surrounded by farm fields and forest. Read More

Impressions of Cambodia

Impressions of Cambodia

Cambodia, at least what we’ve seen of it so far, is a beautiful country. It’s very flat and, at this time of year, very green. Everywhere you look in the countryside, vast rice fields dotted with sugar palm trees stretch away to the horizon. Now that the rainy season is tailing off, the sky is very… Read More

Angkor Temples 3—The Towers of 200 Faces

Angkor Temples 3—The Towers of 200 Faces

Imagine a perfect square, 3 kilometers (1.8 miles) long on each side, enclosed by a wall and, outside that, a wide moat. That describes the city of Angkor Thom, which was the Khmer capital for more than 400 years, starting in the late 1100s. Although the wall and moat remain, most of the city’s buildings… Read More

A Celebration of Water and Light

A Celebration of Water and Light

Siem Reap, the town in northwestern Cambodia where we’re currently staying, is best known as a gateway to the Angkor Wat temple complex. But it has a life apart from tourists and archeological sites, and by chance, we got a great example of that during our first few days in town. Read More

Angkor Temples 2–Remains of an Early Khmer Capital

For our second real day of temple sightseeing, we went back to the early days of the Khmer empire—to the late 800s, when the capital was at a place called Hariharalaya, about 15 km southeast of Angkor Wat. Although the city’s other buildings are gone, a few temples remain, including pretty, plastered Preah Ko and… Read More

Angkor Wat in Small Doses

Angkor Wat in Small Doses

The number one thing that drew us—and most visitors—to Cambodia is Angkor Wat, a large complex of temples built by Khmer kings between about 800 and 1200 AD. At times during that period, the Khmer empire covered virtually all of mainland Southeast Asia, including much of what is now Vietnam, Laos, and Thailand. Read More