Cambodia

These images are from our trip to Cambodia and particularly Angkor Wat and the surrounding area. The region includes the world's largest collection of religious monuments. The earliest were built of brick and date to the 9th century CE and continue through the 15th century. The city represents South East Asia's earliest large city; long before Bangkok, Singapore or even Phnom Phenh.

One author, Cambodia, Lonely Planet, described Cambodian history as the good, the bad and the ugly, very apt. Ancient Cambodia is mostly unknown; however, clay pots from the north have been dated to 4200 BCE. Chinese writings of their neighbors to the south are a bit unflattering. The Khmer, modern Cambodians speak Khmer, likely grew out of trade with the Indian subcontinent in the 1st through 5th centuries. Indeed there is a significant Hindu influence tempered with Buddhism from the north. The Khmer's, in one form or another and never peaceful, lasted from the 9th through the 15th centuries then, things turn messy - the region is variously controlled by the Thai's, the Siamese, the Vietnamese, even Kublai Khan in the 13th century influenced the region and even the French in the 19th century controlled the region. In modern history the Japanese occupy the region and the Thais take the opportunity to seize the north. In 1953 Cambodia becomes independent if not particularly stable. Then for the ugly, the Americans bomb much of Cambodia killing some 250,000 and the resultant civil war leads to the ascension of the dictator Pol Pot who essentially turned the country into a prison; he evacuated the city of Phnom Phenh and killed some 90% of the educated and artisans. What a mess! Today the average Cambodian is poor, agrarian and part time tour guide. Tourism is booming and the populace is very much interested in protecting the industry. Tourism is a renewable resource with brings much needed currency into the economy. See Historical Cambodia gallery for more detail.