Despite the constant media exposure of the ancient city of Angkor – not least in the first Tomb Raider film – seeing them for real was incredible. The first set of pictures is from the Bayon temple, a massive and visually chaotic structure dominated by dozens of towers bearing hundreds of identical carved faces. Some claim these represent the Khmer king, Jayavarman VII responsible for the temple’s construction; others identify them as Lokesvara, the bodhisattva of compassion.
The first three shots below are of the Baphuon temple from the 11th century. Because it was built on sand, by the time it was rediscovered it had largely collapsed and in order to restore it the remains were dismantled to reinforce the inner core. Unfortunately the conflict in Cambodia put an end to restoration efforts, and when peace returned archaeologists discovered the detailed records of the temple’s dismantling had been lost. Nevertheless, they went ahead with the reconstruction and sixteen years later they finished. The reconstructed temple was finally reopened in 2011. The last picture is the Phimeanakas temple which dates back to the tenth century.