I found Angkor Wat architecturally astounding, with its optical effect in a category with the Pyramids of Egypt and Machu Picchu in Peru. Built in the mid 12th century during the reign of Suryavarman II this one-kilometre square temple is a three-tiered pyramid crowned by five towers rising 65 metres from ground level. At the height of Khmer dominance in the area, Suryavarman II constructed Angkor Wat in the form of a temple-mountain dedicated to the Hindu god Vishnu. Angkor gets crowded in the afternoon, as most visitors want to visit and admire the sunset. The early morning is an ideal time to visit, as it is usually an idyllic time for contemplation and photography.
As I was walking along the lower portion of the main temple I spotted two monks sitting in a doorway right at the top of the temple. Their bright orange robes stood out against the dark brown and grey of the temple. They appeared to be reading or in meditation but I am sure that one of them indicated that I should go up. I walked to the other side of the temple where the steps to the top where and to my amazement they seemed to early vertically straight up. The base of each step was so narrow that I had to put my feet sideways and each vertical rise was knee high. I had to climb up using my hands to pull myself to the next step; it was hard work getting to the top. Puffing and panting I made it to the top and made my way to where the two monks were. I asked them if I could photograph them, which was okay with them and one of them asked me where I was from, always a good icebreaker to start a conversation. When I told them that it was such a difficult climb one of them replied that the pathway to heaven was not easy. I was to discover that going down was not much easier although a rope had been supplied which made the stairway from heaven a little easier.
Photograph taken with Nikon D100 & 12-24mm lens at 24mm on 25th January 2005.