The Khmer Empire

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It was a powerful empire that defined the history of Indo China for about 600 years till it fell in the 15th century. The country never regained the glory – colonized by French, bombed by US during the Vietnam War and then hit its abyss over the short but devastating stint of Khmer Rouge. About a fourth of the population died over four years of genocide perpetrated by ‘Brother number one’ (they still prefer to call Pol Pot by his nom de guerre).

But the glory of arguably the most significant vestige of the Khmer empire never frayed or faded away. The Angkor Wat is omnipresent – fluttering away on the national flag, designed on beer cans, imprinted on currency and medals, lending its name to night pubs. The greatest export.
I did not spend enough time in Cambodia to make any insightful commentary, or pass a judgement. But…..I could not help noticing the pitch of poverty and helplessness that has seeped in all conversations, perhaps with tourists alone to gain sympathy and dollars. The nation and people deserve a greater sense of pride.
Here is a photo documentary, touristy if you may.
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She looked preoccupied with her trade. I told her she had a nice smile, and she smiled even wider.

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The national flag, fluttering away in its Angkor glory

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The gates of Angkor Thom city, the greatest city of the Khmer empire.

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Inside Angkor Wat

Fishing in Tonle Sap, the violin shaped lake and lifeline of Cambodia.

Fishing in Tonle Sap, the violin shaped lake and lifeline of Cambodia.

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Life floating around on the fringes on Tone Sap

Psar Chaa market, Siem Reap

Psar Chaa market, Old areas of Siem Reap

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A ceremony is about to begin

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I waded through the crowds as they went ballistic with the Angkor silhouette shots, turned right and found this quiet corner. Finding this tree was serendipity.

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Home bound

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Over Tonle Sap

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The play of light and shadow breathing life into the walls of Ta Prohm. Nature has almost reclaimed the temple, the serpentine branches of the trees now firmly entrenched in the cavities on the ridged walls. Lara Croft could not have found a more surreal setting.

Catching a few winks in the silence of Angkor Wat

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