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Angkor Wat in Siem Reap, Cambodia
“We perceive atmosphere through our emotional sensibility – a form of perception that works incredibly quickly, and which we humans evidently need to help us survive.” –Peter Zumthor
What a glorious experience to walk through the temple of Angkor Wat! Stepping through the columns leads to various inner courts, giving one the opportunity to calm down and forget the intense humidity of Siem Reap, Cambodia. While passing through the processional columns, tip-toeing and hopping over the graces of paved stones, I sensed spirits and angels. They helped me hum forward to peel away layers of the walled colonnades.
Angkor Wat is a national treasure of Cambodia—important enough to be found in the center of the national flag. Angkor Wat translates as “City of Temple” and, in turn, is a complex of temples built for King Suryavarman II in the 12th century. Another important fact: it was a Hindu temple at first, dedicated to Vishnu, but later became a Buddhist structure.
Architecturally, there are two plans to Angkor: the older one, inspired from India, called Temple Mountain, and the more recent Galleried Temple. Thus, as a Khmer temple, it has the profile of a high mountain, with vertical and horizontal layers of galleries.
Through these different galleries of temples, one experiences a graceful procession, and, due to the incredible passages, the mood is peaceful and hallowed. While traveling through colonnades, one often arrives at irregular apertures: openings that provide options to change directions or take a break to enjoy the framed views.
Small and large, old and new, one should be inspired by the processional qualities within a space like Angkor Wat. The photos I have taken represent the city of temples in an elemental way. I hope you enjoy.
Photography by D.B. Kim.