Loneliness of the stone kings in Bayon

The temple architecture of Cambodia is grand, spatial and elevating. But Bayon, just half an hour away from Siem Reap, is disconcertingly different

In the dying light of day, Bayon’s brooding granite and laterite figures exude an air of loneliness. The roosting birds in the forest are eerily quiet. It is difficult to imagine Bayon, just half an hour by road from Siem Reap, as a place where people once gathered to celebrate the gods. They walked up gradient after gradient to reach the god-king at the top.

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