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12:36pm on Saturday, 12th September, 2009:

Places I'm not all that Fussed about Visiting #7


Continuing the occasional series...

Angkor Wat.

The Angkor site is vast — so vast it's still being dug out of the jungle in places — and Angkor Wat is its best-preserved and most impressive and imposing temple. It's such a source of national pride for Cambodians that they've been putting it on their national flag for well over a hundred years. I generally like ancient monuments, I generally like complexes of ancient monuments, I generally like complexes of ancient monuments for exotic cultures — so why am I not all that fussed about visiting Angkor Wat?

Well, ultimately it's because I don't like its look.

Those bullet-shaped towers with their multiple lattices are really not very pleasing to the eye at all (well, mine anyway). They're probably the result of the workmanship of hundreds of skilled craftsmen over several decades, but I can't say I like the result at all — they're borderline ugly. I'm sure that inside the building there are phenomenal examples of Khmer art, but we never see inside it when people show pictures, we just see the front elevation.

If it still had the buiding-rising-from-the-trees thing, which might lend more of a lost world atmosphere to it (that it used to have but doesn't now), then I suppose that could trump my dislike of the towers. As it is, though, I just don't like its look. Sorry, 12th century Cambodian architects, my tastes are in opposition to your artistic vision.

Yet 600,000 tourists a year disagree with me.

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Copyright © 2009 Richard Bartle (richard@mud.co.uk).