Beng Mealea is an ancient temple of the Khmer empire in Cambodia. It is a complete ruin, with lots of climbing and carvings. A local guide took us through and showed us some interesting things such as a mountain of big rocks where the main tower had been and all the entryways and hallways had crumbled in. Anything that was still together was courtesy of the many vines and roots from trees on top of the walls. We climbed on some and we went 10 or so feet up. You could walk on the walls that were still together, but you had to be careful because of the moving rocks. There was some eloborate carvings and statues such as the Naga, which are 5 headed or 7 headed snakes. They are opposed by Garuda, the bird god. He has the head and wings of an eagle and the rest of him is human. We swung on vines and ducked through tiny doorways and climbed and jumped from rock to rock. It was so much fun! We were very hot and sweaty when we finished our climb. It was 90 degrees and we were working hard at climbing, but it was worth it.
Preah Khan was the city center that more than 800 years ago, had a Buddhist university and a temple. We walked along a small road with rooms branching off and occasionally an outdoor pool. The pools fill in the rainy season and stay that way until someone pulls the plug or it evaporates. There was a throne room with a low door so you had to bow to get in. At the front, there were 9 towers that were like guards to the capital of the city. It was in a fairly ruined state, though nowhere close to as crumbled as Beng Mealea. At the back was a dance hall for entertainment. There was also a two-story library with round pillars to symbolize that it is a library. Everywhere else had square pillars. We climbed around and danced in the dance hall. We saw a lot of Nagas and a Garuda.
Angkor Wat is the biggest temple in the world and one of the seven wonders. To enter Angkor Wat, you first have to cross a stone bridge over the moat to the first three towers. They used to be taller but they have been weathered down. Then you walk along a long stone walkway to find three more towers at full height. You then choose one of the side towers to go through. Inside you go into another wall where you can look at a long mural of brothers fighting for the kingdom, the king with all his protectors and servants, and a few other ones. Then we continued inside, where we went inside a library far off the ground. We saw a statue of a woman with her stone head broken off. Then we climbed into the temple center so we could look over the walls to see the entrance and exit. You could see quite far.
Bayon is the weirdest temple by far with its gigantic stone faces. There were at least 37 towers, many of which had 4 faces. They were built to resemble the king at the time. There is also the occasional temple to one of the Buddhist gods. At the lower part of the towers there were a lot of interesting carvings. There were many different ones, from a king fighting a giant serpent to a circus scene with jugglers.
Ta Prohm is a big nature scene with trees and vines. I do think that Beng Mealea was better though because in Ta Prohm there are walkways and you cannot explore, but in Beng Mealea you can go anywhere. Some of the trees sprouted on top of the stone walls. There are pictures of before and after they reconstructed it. It is amazing how different it is.