The vast temple ruins of Angkor in mid-June 1994 were a weird and dangerous place.

Back then Khmer Rouge guerrillas were active in the area as peace talks had broken-down. During this time, 7 foreigners were targeted and killed across Cambodia, including an American woman in the outer temples of Banteay Srei.

angkor-temples-ta-phrom

Ta Phrom remains overgrown by some massive trees. This is where Tomb Raider was filmed. But it is nothing as wild as 1994; more like tourist Disneyland jungle temple where you have to stick to paths now.

The temples were empty and silent; even a little spooky, just the sounds of monsoonal rain, and birds, and occasional gunfire. Parts of the temples were mined and soldiers, checkpoints, tanks abound as decades of war surrounded the temples, and in the hills were the Khmer Rouge. It was a crazy time (and a book of short stories will cover this time in detail).

angkor-temples-bayon faces-2

A few of the over 200 faces on the towers of the 13th century Buddhist Bayon temple, the centrepiece of Angkor Thom – Great City; when it was the largest city in the world with over 1,000,000 citizens.

angkor-temples-sra-srang-lake

Scorching summer midday at Sra Srang: one of the many water reservoirs that served the ancient city. This was the royal bathing pool.

angkor-bayon-temple

Looking to the wonderfully weird Bayon temple.

Revisiting again in 2008, the nearby town of Siem Reap had mushroomed into mega-tourist hotspot and temples were very crowded across Khmer New Year. Returning again in 2016 with my GF – Wei, her totally new to travel beyond China, it was a fun, romantic, beer-soaked day of stunning temples amid blistering heat.

angkor-wat-2106-TCT

Wei & MRP within the Angkor Wat complex, built in the 12th century when Angkor was a Hindu kingdom.

angkor-temples-cambodia-girl-umbrella

angkor-temples-baphuon-pyramid

Baphuon pyramid resembles something from Maya Central America.

angkor-wat-temple-statue

Temple statue within corridors of Angkor Wat.

angkor-wat-temple painting

My painted impression of Angkor Wat.

angkor-temples-2106_1

Banteay Kdei temple.

angkor-temples-bayon faces

Another shot of the Bayon temple around sunset.

(NOTE: There are dozens of temples around the Angkor area and this is only tease of the images possible. Another post may follow of the then and now comparison).

Travels in Cambodia – 2016