A Day in the Ruins of Angkor

This mini-documentary deals with our trip during the Khmer New Year to the ruins of Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom – the last two capitals of the great Monument Building Period of the Khmer Empire. Although it would eventually become a Buddhist realm, the civilization of the Khmer during the start of this period was largely Hindu. Even today, Cambodia’s Theravada Buddhism is a mix of Hindu, animistic and Buddhist rituals and concepts. They certainly don’t consider themselves Hindu, but Cambodians have long-since fused these belief systems into their culture.

The Khmer people are one of the older ethnic groups in the region, much older than the empire they founded. Not unlike other ethnic groups in Southeast Asia they were heavily influenced by Indian culture, in particular the Tamil influence of the Chola Dynasty that flourished in eastern and southeastern India. So these early Cambodians adopted Hinduism as their religion long before they built Angkor Wat.

Our excursion to these vast ruins was conducted on the second day of the Khmer New Year celebration – a celebration that lasts for three days. These former capitals of the Khmer Empire are too extensive to be fully covered in a single day. However, we were able to go to the three most iconic locations and show them to you. Angkor Wat lies about 7km from the town of Siem Reap and Angkor Thom is roughly 3 kilometers from Angkor Wat.

It was really a lot of fun putting this together, though it was hard work. As with our previous mini-doc on the first Angkorian capital (Hariharalaya), it was a long and very hot day. This made filming and moving about even more difficult, but it was truly a great experience. We are very happy to share these monumental wonders of architecture and engineering with all of you!

For more information on these incredible ruins, don’t forget to read our posts on Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom.

In the Footsteps of the Early Angkorians

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Hello everyone,

The following video deals with the first capital city of the Angkorian empire. Historians usually date the great era of Khmer building from the time when this city was established as the capital. More specifically, our mini-documentary deals with the three main temples of the city of Hariharalaya.

These ruins are representative of 9th Century Khmer architecture and building techniques. They have generally been seen as the start of a great Angkorian building program that would last centuries. We decided to start here first because so many people know about Angkor Wat, but few know about all the other ruins that exist in this region. The three temples we explore in the video (Bakong, Lolei & Preah Ko) being the most prominent of well over a dozen such ruins scattered throughout the immediate area. Overall, there are hundreds of examples in a 30 kilometer radius around Siem Reap town.

We filmed at these three temples in the course of one afternoon, during the low tourist season. The heat that day was oppressive, which only helped keep most sane folks away. As a result, we pretty much had the run of the place. However, walking and filming around these World Heritage Sites in such grueling heat is not for the faint of heart. Breaks were common and staying very hydrated a must.

These temples are known as the Rolous Group of ruins (named after the nearby town and river). They are located about 13 kilometers east – southeast of Siem Reap. The ride to the site is quite scenic with paddies, water buffaloes and cows dotting the landscape. If ever vacationing in Cambodia, strongly suggest this site in addition to all the great Angkorian ruins, such as Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom & Ta Prohm.