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Angkor Thom: The Bayon and Beyond

Angkor Thom is huge.

What was once a walled, fortified city built back in the 12th century, now stands the great ruins which might take second billing to the famous, nearby Angkor Wat, but is hardly lacking in wonderful architecture—including some superb, very detailed bas-reliefs and, of course, those cheery faces up on the towers!

Ok, here we are approaching the southern gate of Angkor Thom, on a moto (motorized scooter). Can you make out any smiling faces yet?

Approaching Angkor Thom, thru the south gate

The view from the eastern entrance:

Looking at Angkor Thom, from the eastern entrance

Look closely again, up on top: can you spot any smiling faces? (If not, you certainly will below!)

We've been quoting our Lonely Planet guidebook fairly liberally at this site so far, so why stop now?!

"The most outstanding feature of the Bayon, which was built around 1200 by Jayavarman VII in the exact centre of the city of Angkor Thom, is the eerie and unsettling third level, with its icily smiling, gargantuan faces of Avalokitesvara. There are more than 200 of these staring downwards from 54 towers. Almost as extraordinary are the Bayon's 1200m of bas reliefs, incorporating over 11,000 figures..."

Ok, here's Karen, up on that third level, with a clearly smiling friend...

Karen with a smiling friend

Inside one of the countless little rooms at Angkor Thom: a well-dressed figure (and in good shape, too), complete with prayer paraphenalia:

A well-dressed figure, inside one of Angkor Thom's many rooms/enclosures

A close-up of some nice bas-reliefs (here, soldiers carrying spears), also in fairly good shape after all of these years...

And more soldiers off to battle, this time, obviously, with an elephant:

Back to those great smiling faces...

Of the hundreds that adorn these towers at Angkor Thom, here are at least five or six, all visible in one little snap shot.

And back down on ground-level: the famed Terrace of Elephants, with their mighty trunks, and many other standing figures in the background, going on and on and...

Here are more of those standing figures, along with three others!

Looks like back-breaking work, but the Cambodian government obviously feels it's necessary to have "mowed" grass all around.

Although it's certainly hard labor, at least these people have work to do—something that can't necessarily be said about most Cambodians.

Well, um, here is a face that only a mother would love!

This fellow is one of countless faces (human or otherwise) that can be readily seen all over Angkor Thom.

And then sometimes (not often) you'll come across someone without a face, or even a head!

All right, that's it!

We'll leave you with one more of these happy guys...

Hope you've enjoyed looking at these photos from Angkor Thom.

Thanks for stopping by!

The background image here, such as it is (pretty understated, we agree), comes from an extreme close-up of a carving at Angkor Thom...

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