The afternoon tour began at 15:00, to avoid the hottest part of the day. Ha! Our motorcoaches took us back past Angkor Wat and beyond, into the jungle. The entire Angkor Archaeological Park covers 400 sq. km/154 sq. miles, but Angkor Thom is just beyond Angkor Wat. However, we had to change to smaller shuttle buses, since the larger buses cannot go through the gates of the city walls.
Angkor Thom was the royal palace complex of King Jayavarman VII (r 1181-1219). We were dropped off at Preah En Tep, an open Buddhist temple:
Similar stone carvings of devatas (female deities):
Stone carvings of the Khmer people:
Once there were 54 towers, each with four faces, one on each side. Sources state it is still not known why there were 54 towers. Our guide said there were that many because there were 54 provinces of Cambodia.f the Avalokiteshvara, Mahayana Buddhism's compassionate bodhisattva, or Buddha himself.
es, one each for kindness, mercy, sympathy and impartiality. Instead the guide told us that they were the four faces of Buddha representing kindness, compassion, equality and simplicity.
The photo op was to stand nose-to-nose with one of the face profiles:
This terrace had a double wall, and when you walked between them, the inside of the inner wall was covered with stone carvings:
The balustrades were giants holding a naga (seven-headed serpent):
The figures on the right side were demons:
And gods on the left side: