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Amazing Angkor Wat in Photos

35 photo tour of Cambodia’s Angkor Wat temples

Angkor Wat is one of the most impressive sites in the world, and was immediately a highlight of my southeast Asia trip. The temples are breathtaking!  While you need to visit them in Cambodia to appreciate it, below is a photo tour of the experience.

Angkor Wat at sunrise
Angkor Wat at sunrise. This brilliant photo is from one of my favorite travel photographers, Trey Ratcliff at Stuck in Customs

Angkor Wat is located in Siem Reap, in Cambodia. Along with Angkor Thom, Bayon, and Ta Prohm, Angkor might be the best two-day trip you can take in all of Asia.

Angkor Wat, in Siem Reap, Cambodia

Angkor Wat was built by the vanished Khmer empire. It was constructed during the reign of King Suryavarman II, who ruled from 1113 to at least 1145.

the walls of Angkor Wat are filled with details carvings, each depicting the rich history
the walls of Angkor Wat are filled with details carvings, each depicting the rich history
Angkor Wat in Cambodia
photo by JonJon Pascua
Buddhist monk explores Angkor Wat
Buddhist monk explores Angkor Wat
The Library at Angkor Wat.
The Library at Angkor Wat. Photo from one of my favorite travel photographers, Trey Ratcliff
There are more than 1,860 carved Apsara dancers in Angkor Wat.
There are more than 1,860 carved Apsara dancers in Angkor Wat.
Angkor Wat entrance - Angkor Wat at Visit50.com
“Angkor Wat” translates to “The city that is a temple.”
The Battle of Kurukshetra is the subject of this bas-relief at Angkor Wat.
The Battle of Kurukshetra is the subject of this bas-relief at Angkor Wat.
Count the arms...VERY powerful!
Count the arms…VERY powerful!

Scholars say the temples of Angkor Wat were built for funerary purposes, since its bas-reliefs are meant to be viewed anti-clockwise, a direction that was associated with death in the Khmer empire. This is Angkor’s only temple with tombs, despite the “Tomb Raider” movie being shot at nearby Ta Prohm, where there’s no tombs.

naga - the long causeway is decorated with mythical snake-like animals called naga
naga – the long causeway is decorated with mythical snake-like animals called naga
 this stone sculptures depicts the 8 arms of Vishnu, the powerful Hindu god, but with the head of Buddha. When Angkor Wat became a Buddhist temple, the head of Vishnu was replaced with the head of Buddha - Angkor Wat at Visit50.com
This stone sculpture depicts the 8 arms of Vishnu, the powerful Hindu god, but with the head of Buddha. When Angkor Wat became a Buddhist temple, the head of Vishnu was replaced with the head of Buddha.

“Angkor Wat” translates to “The city that is a temple.”

a devata graces the walls in Angkor Wat. Devata is another word for deva, the Hindu term for deity
a devata graces the walls in Angkor Wat. Devata is another word for deva, the Hindu term for deity
a youthful monk learns to read the future
a youthful monk learns to read the future
a monk at - Angkor Wat - Visit50.com
They say Angkor Wat took 30 years to build, which seems like a long time, until you see all the rich detail on nearly every wall

Angkor is located in Siem Reap, Cambodia. Siem Reap literally translates to ‘defeat of Siam,’ which is today’s Thailand. It’s a conflict that goes back centuries, between the Siamese and Khmer people.

Raided. They stole the heads!
Raided. They stole the heads!

 

"Angkor Wat" translates to The city that is a temple - Visit50.com
“Angkor Wat” translates to The city that is a temple
Cambodian wedding photo shoot
Cambodian wedding photo shoot. I saw wedding photo shoots both times I visited, so perhaps it’s a popular spot for wedding photos.
Anchor Wat was under repair when we went
under repair when we went – the green tarps typically aren’t there

reflection of the temple towers in Siem Reap, Cambodia - Visit50.com

The walls of Ankor Wat tell stories of war heroes and battles from their troubled past - Visit50.com
The temple walls tell stories of war heroes and battles from their troubled past
Ankor Wat and the reflecting pond
my first time in Cambodia and the reflecting pond

amazing Angkor Wat - temples in Cambodia
Photo from ITLWMT

temple - Visit50.com

"Library" - their true purpose remains unknown. Most likely they functioned broadly as religious shrines rather than strictly as repositories of manuscripts
“Library”. While its true purpose remains unknown, scholars say it most likely functioned broadly as a religious shrine, rather than strictly as repositories of manuscripts
devata at the entrance
devatas at the entrance
guarding the walls
guarding the walls of Angkor Wat
The walls at the entrance are 8 meters high and 3 km long, and flanked by a moat.
The walls at the entrance are 8 meters high and 3 km long, and flanked by a moat.
The "swimming pool" - looks good for being 1000 yrs old!
The “swimming pool” – looks good for being 1000 yrs old!
Cruciform gallery separating the courtyards
Cruciform gallery separating the courtyards
look closely at everything - from a distance this looked like a pile of rocks
look closely at everything – from a distance this looked like a pile of rocks
tower - Visit50.com
closeup of one of the towers at Angkor Wat

Impressive Petra!

Petra, one of the 7 Wonders of the World

Petra in Jordan is impressive – established sometime in the 6th century BC as the capital city of the Nabataeans – they carved the entire city out of the rock. They didn’t build columns – they kept carving the rock until they had columns. Given the back-story, it’s some of the most impressive architecture I’ve seen.  I highly recommend visiting Petra.

The Monastery at Petra, The Monastery of Petra, (aka Ad-Dayr or Ad-Deir in Arabic), in Jordan
The Monastery of Petra, (aka Ad-Dayr or Ad-Deir in Arabic)

Petra was named one of the new seven wonders of the world in 2007; it was  declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1985.

The Monastery is massive - Petra, Jordan
The Monastery is massive! Petra, Jordan
at the Siq, the narrow passageway to Al Khazneh ("The Treasury") at the ruins in Jordan
at the Siq, the narrow passageway to Al Khazneh (“The Treasury”)

You may recognize this spot (above photo) in Petra from the film, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. The movie’s fictional “Canyon of the Crescent Moon” was modeled on this 250-foot-high (76-meter-high) sandstone slot canyon known as the Siq, which that leads directly to Al Khazneh (the Treasury). Siq pictured above.

in front of Al Khazneh ("The Treasury") in Petra, Jordan
in front of Al Khazneh (“The Treasury”) in Jordan

Established possibly as early as 312 BC as the capital city of the Nabataeans, the site remained unknown to the Western world until 1812. UNESCO has described it as “one of the most precious cultural properties of man’s cultural heritage”.

camel at the ruins in Jordan

Indiana Jones and the  Last Crusade – where was Petra featured?

At the film’s climactic final scenes, Harrison Ford and Sean Connery burst forth from the Siq and walk deep into the labyrinths of the Treasury in their quest to find the Holy Grail. But, as usual, archaeological fact bowed to Hollywood fiction when Indy came to Petra.

In reality, the Treasury is nothing more than a facade with a relatively small hall once used as a royal tomb.-Nat Geo

petra by photo by seetheholyland.net
photo by seetheholyland.net

There are dozens of tombs and other carved or constructed structures and sites within Petra.

photo by Maureen

Petra!

Petra’s located in Jordan, in the Middle East. Other highlights of my trip to Jordan included the Dead Sea and the Wadi Rum desert.

Asian Elephants in the wild

Facts and photos of Asian Elephants

Asian Elephants are incredible. So primitive, so old, and the baby elephants are so cute! We were on a river safari in Borneo when we saw a whole family of Asian Elephants (aka Asiatic Elephants or Elephas maximus).  After seeing them in the wild, I was really curious and learned some interesting Asian elephant facts. My photography is below, also with  Asian Elephant facts that I found interesting are below:

  • Elephants are the largest land animals living today. They’re massive!
  • If you thought human pregnancy was challenging – check this out. Asian Elephant pregnancies last 22 months, baby elephants can weight 260 pounds at birth.
  • At full size, male Asian Elephants can weigh up to 12,000 pounds (5400 kg)! Females weigh up to 9000 pounds.
  • Elephants typically live for 60 years in the wild (80 years in captivity).
  • Asian Elephants can be up to 10 feet tall at the shoulder. They’re much smaller than African Elephants in mass, but are taller.
  • They have up to 20 pairs of ribs and 34 caudal vertebrae (bones that make up their tails).
  • Asian Elephants have 100,000 muscles in their trunk!
    Asian Elephants have 100,000 muscles in their trunk!
  • Trunks are the single most important feature of an elephant, with 100,000 muscles in their trunk. It’s used for feeding, watering, smelling, breathing, drinking, touching, sound/communication, washing, and also for grabbing things.
  • Asian elephants have a fingerlike feature on the end of their trunk that they can use to grab small items (African elephants have two).
  • I noticed they don’t have the same number of nails on each foot so I looked it up. Asian Elephants have five nail-like structures on each forefoot, and four on each hind foot.
Baby Asian Elephants at Sungai Kinabatgangan in Malaysian Borneo
I didn’t realize it was a baby elephant until the adult elephants came up behind

Super smart! Elephants have incredible memories and, like many primates, have very large neocortexes and are thought to be very intelligent.

Hungry Hungry Elephants? Elephants eat roots, grasses, fruit, and bark. An adult elephant can consume up to 300 pounds (136 kg) of food in a single day!

  • Endangered: Since 1986, Elephas maximus (scientific name for Asian Elephants) has been listed as endangered as the population has declined by at least 50% over the last three generations. In 2003, the wild population was estimated at between 41,410 and 52,345.
  • Top predator: humans. That’s right, they’d be doing fine if not for poaching and deforestation.
Did you know: Asian elephants are known to be right or left tusked.
Did you know: Asian elephants are known to be right or left tusked. Elephant trivia

Did you know?   Elephants can be a “righty” or a “lefty”

  • Ivory tusks are used to dig for water  and rocks, to debark trees, as levers for maneuvering fallen trees and branches, for marking trees, as weapon for offense and defense, and as protection for the trunk.
  • Asian elephants are known to be right or left tusked. [this surprised me]

Close-up of an Asian Elephant in Malaysian Borneo in Sabah - Sungai Kinabatgangan - Visit50.com

Adorable Baby Asian Elephant in the wild in Sabah Malaysia/Borneo! Visit50.com
I never thought I’d find Baby Elephants to be adorable but look at it!
we were THAT close to the Asian Elephants
We were THAT close to the elephants on the Kinabatangan River in Sabah, eastern Malaysia, on the island of Borneo. It is the second longest river in Malaysia,
Baby Asian Elephant close-up, taken at along the Kinabatangan River (Sungai Kinabatangan) in Sabah, eastern Malaysia, on the island of Borneo. It is the second longest river in Malaysia, in Sabah, eastern Malaysia, on the island of Borneo. It is the second longest river in Malaysia - Visit50.com
Baby Elephant close-up – loved having my D-SLR lens to zoom in to snap this photo

I photographed the Asian Elephants on this page on The Kinabatangan River, located in Sabah, eastern Malaysia, on the island of Borneo. It is the second longest river in Malaysia. 

If you’re visiting, and are interested in the same adventure – I booked mine through Nature Lodge Kinabatangan. Note, they said seeing elephants is rare and unexpected. They typically spot crocodiles, monkeys, lots of rare birds, and occasionally an orangutan (but all the way up in the trees).

Additional resources: Trip AdvisorLonely Planet, Wonderful Malaysia.

I’ve often been asked, which camera should I buy to get photos like these?  I’ve been putting together a post to answer that here.

Slideshow – elephants (and baby elephants) in the wild! [flagallery gid=6 name=”Gallery”]

It wasn’t the first time seeing baby wildlife in my trip – the baby orangutans and baby monkeys in Borneo were adorable!  I also saw other types of animals – tarsiers, macaquesproboscis monkeys, sharks, camelspythons, and more! Thanks to Nat Geo, Wikipedia.

Halong Bay in Vietnam

Halong Bay’s limestone islands in the Gulf of Tonkin, Vietnam

HaLong Bay was visually one of the highlights of my Vietnam trip. Halong Bay is a UNESCO World Heritage Site featuring  1500-2000 islands and islets in various shapes and sizes, forming a spectacular seascape of limestone pillars.

Halong Bay, Vietnam
Halong Bay is so beautiful!

Hạ Long Bay (also written as Halong Bay or Ha Long Bay) is located in the Gulf of Tonkin, in Quáng Ninh province, in northeastern Vietnam.

Kayaking in Halong Bay, Vietnam
We went kayaking while surrounded by breathtaking views

Halong Bay 1024x768 - Visit50

Annika profile - nearly every moment of the Halong Bay Vietnam trip included a backdrop this striking
Annika profile – nearly every moment of the Halong Bay trip included a backdrop this striking

Ha Long Bay in Vietnam

Halong Bay limestone
this photo gives you a sense of the scale – by Ms Saigon

Jumping off the boat in Ha Long Bay, Vietnam
Jumping off the boat – so much fun! (more fun jumping photos of these to come)

Vietnam - Halong Bay - view from the boatSeveral of the islands are hollow, with enormous caves, other support floating villages of fishermen, who ply the shallow waters for 200 species of fish.

beautiful sunset in Vietnam - Visit50.comHalong Bay is a Unesco World Heritage Site

Sarah's view from the boat
Sarah’s view from the boat
here's a photo of me from just outside a cave
my view from just outside a cave
Annika and Lisa
my new friends Annika and Lisa – view from the boat

It’s often compared favorably to Guilin in China (photos coming soon!) and Krabi in Thailand – Lonely Planet called Ha Long Bay in Vietnam even more spectacular. While Halong Bay can be a bit of a “tourist trap,” it’s so beautiful that it’s worth the tradeoff.

Where is Halong Bay?  In Vietnam, 105 miles east of Hanoi, Vietnam’s largest city, and takes about 3 hours from Hanoi via bus.

floating school in floating village
This is a floating school in their floating village, Vietnam

Getting to Halong Bay:  Fly to Hanoi, Vietnam, and book a tour. This will be easily the best way to do it and comparatively it’ll be hassle free.  There’s a huge range in pricing and service – agents will promise the world and offer terrible service. Choosing a tour company.

Halong Bay, Vietnam panorama

Flying to Hanoi:  The closest airport is Noi Bai International Airport, 25 miles (40km) north of Hanoi. If you can’t get a direct flight, head to Bangkok, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur or Singapore, and then catch a connecting flight.

Halong Bay limestonethis photo gives you a sense of the scale of the limestone pillars – by Ms Saigon

Halong Bay, Vietnam limestone pillar
Halong Bay Vietnam from the lookout Photo credit

Follow the rest of my adventures at Visit50.com.  You can also follow Visit50 on InstagramVisit50 on Twitter and Visit50 on Facebook.  

Where to get more info:  wiki-travel and Lonely Planet have a wealth of info.

Going to Vietnam? I used a Lonely Planet book on my trip –