Out of 5 gates that afford access to the royal Khmer city of Angkor Thom, only two are heavily trafficked. Being on the Petit Circuit through Angkor Archaeological Park, both South Gate (the busiest one, because it’s also part of the Grand Circuit) and Victory Gate have people passing through them often. Since Angkor Thom North Gate is on the Grand Circuit and off the itinerary vast majority of visitors to Angkor restrict themselves to, it is a much quieter gate than the other two.
Angkor Thom’s square shaped exterior wall has one entrance gate on cardinal point, except from the east wall, which has two – East Gate and Victory Gate. East Gate, even though it’s in the middle of the wall and in line with Bayon, sees very little in terms of traffic because everybody who passes through Angkor Thom simply takes the paved road which was laid to pass through Victory Gate. Yet there still is a gate traffic through which is even scarcer. West Gate is almost totally abandoned and hardly gets any visitors through. Only the most determined explorers who also decide to visit West Mebon (huge water reservoir west of Angkor Thom) take this detour which requires whole day (unless you have motorized transportation) and has very little else to offer.
Needless to say, South and Victory Gates, being the busiest of five have seen more restoration work than the other three gates. North Gate did get restored a bit, but it was one of the gates that was pretty well preserved to begin with. When looting became a profitable past time activity for average Cambodians, many stone giants (Devas on the left and Asuras on the right) adorning the sides of the causeways spanning the dried up moats in front of each gate were vandalized and their severed heads sold to collectors from abroad. Many of the North Gate giants didn’t escape this fate either, leaving this part of the North Gate desperately devastated, but the gate itself remains in pretty good shape.
Nothing otherwise makes the North Gate of Angkor Thom special in any way. It is quieter than South Gate, so if you seek less disturbance from the Cambodian touts of doom, you can find it here. However since all Angkor Thom gates were built to be identical, your best bet for pictures is to stick with the South Gate due to well restored Naga bearing Apsaras and Asuras on either side of the causeway. South Gate also gets many elephants through it which also makes for rather interesting, albeit sad pictures. Like all other gates as well as the towers of Bayon, the North Gate is crowned with the faces of the bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara bearing the likeness of king Jayavarman VII who had them build.
I didn’t spend much time at the North Gate, just passed through it, making only a minute long stop to snap a couple of pictures. By entering Angkor Thom through the North Gate, I returned to the area I had previously explored, so North Gate concluded my adventure on the grand circuit of Angkor. I did a lot that day. It was incredibly hot and I even managed to foil an attempt to have my bicycle stolen. I was ready to start riding back towards Siem Reap where my cozy bed at the Prom Roth Guest House and Ha were waiting for me. I only had one more stop to take – back at Angkor Wat to say “Hi” to the girls and have one more coconut for the energy to ride back after a long and tiring day.
After I was done exploring the Chapel of the Hospital, I was already so worn out by the scorching Cambodian sun, I didn’t have any strength left for any more temples. The day was drawing to a close anyway and I spent much of it battling the heat and the relentless touts so it was time to call it quits and start making my way back to Siem Reap. That heat definitely gets you. There is absolutely nowhere to escape the boiling hot temperatures within Angkor Archaeological Park so sooner or later, you’re bound to humbly yield to this mighty element hours of unceasing exposure to which will floor you. Luckily for me, Chapel of the Hospital was the last temple ruin on the Petit Circle through Angkor Archaeological Park I have not been to yet so I could consider this part of my Angkorian adventure successfully concluded. I only had one more stop to make – to get one more coconut at Angkor Wat just before they close the park for the day and night falls on the area. To get to Angkor Wat, I had to first ride through Angkor Thom the southern end of which gets busy with monkeys looking for handouts from people heading home this time of the day.
I was only steps away from Angkor Thom as the Chapel of the Hospital is very near the Victory Gate so I rode right through and then left at the Terrace of the Elephants, and straight down to pass by Bayon and further along the road leading to the South Gate. It was on this stretch of the road – between Bayon and the South Gate where hundreds of monkeys seem to descend from the jungle to look cute as they prance alongside the road to entice the visitors to Angkor to pause on their way back to Siem Reap and have a picture of themselves taken with them while at the same time feeding them. Needless to say, this dependency of monkeys on food from humans is bad for the wildlife and could have detrimental consequences but in Cambodia nobody cares as long as in the end there is some profit for them in it. And if engaging foreigners in feeding monkeys gets them all excited to spend money on overpriced seeds to give the anxious animals, they won’t let that opportunity to pass them by. Wildlife and all tree huggers can go eff themselves. Cambodians want tourists’ money. They care less if it results in gradual dependency of wild monkeys on humans and loss of their ability to fend for themselves.
There was a pretty sizable group of people engaged in monkey feeding along the road out of Angkor Thom. I got attracted by the crowd and paused to see what was so engaging about this tree-lined road to have everyone stop and hang around. I pulled over and pulled out my camera to take a few pictures to document what’s going on, but that didn’t go without attention from the monkeys who seem to switch their focus on a newcomer almost immediately, unless a person whom they are around is currently feeding them. As I had observed – they (the monkeys) are rather ungrateful creatures when it comes to that. People would spend money to feed them and for as long as their supply of monkey munchies lasts, the monkeys are all over them but as soon as they’re out, monkeys ungracefully move on to somebody else forgetting all about that original donor.
There were monkeys of all shapes and sizes along that road – from young and agile to old and grumpy. And they are uncontrollably attracted to shiny things and… well, basically all things that they can carry. Insatiably curious and investigative, these monkeys will steal anything that can be stolen. Put your bag on the ground to free your hands so you can feed a monkey that starts to cutely climb up your leg and next thing you know, other monkeys are already in the bag and if they grabbed something, consider it gone. They will climb up a nearest tree and you will see your possessions disappear before you’re able to do anything about it. I already had my scary encounter which nearly cost me a camera equipment before getting to Angkor Wat so I knew that one needs to watch their stuff really closely and have it safely mounted against themselves or put into something that’s tricky to open and unmovable. But as I stood there and had a few monkeys probe my wallet and key chain and my bag I had over my shoulders, I saw one lady lose her sunglasses after a monkey snatched it off the top of her head and disappeared into the crown of the tree above.
Behind the pool flanking the South Khleang is a long laterite terrace called Vihear Prampil Loveng. The 128 meters (420 feet) long Vihear Prampil Loveng is surrounded by a rectangular wall with entrance gateway in the north wall – can be accessed from Victory Way, the causeway connecting Victory Gate with the Royal Palace area.
Most visitors to Angkor Thom never make it to Vihear Prampil Loveng because it’s so insignificant and uninteresting however I thought that the fact that it houses the chief divinity of the original Bayon temple was rather fascinating.
3.5 meters tall statue of Buddha sitting on a serpent that coiled three times to serve as a throne and whose multi-head spreads into a hood to shelter the Enlightened One like a canopy was originally placed in the central sanctuary of the Bayon temple but when king Jayavarman VIII took over from Jayavarman VII, he went on a big mission to demolish all Buddhist relics and instil new religion which resulted in destruction of the Buddha statue installed in Bayon.
Strangely enough, all of the pieces of shattered statue were recovered in 1933 when archaeologists discovered it in the well of the central Bayon which allowed them to fully restore this historically important relic. It was removed from Bayon and placed in Vihear Prampil Loveng where it still sits today.
According to the Khmer legend, serpent Naga king Mucilinda emerged out of the roots of the tree under which Buddha was meditating to shelter him from the storm. This scene has become one of the most imitated artforms in which Buddha was depicted. Even though the original statue depicting the very motif was removed from Bayon, many smaller statues of the same can still be found at several spots throughout the big temple.
Vihear Prampil Loveng entrance stairs are decorated with Angkorian era lions and elephants but the overall ancient feel gets lost with the rather unfitting pavilion housing the statue. When I made my way all the way to the pavilion to take a picture of said Buddha, I disturbed a Cambodian nun who was sleeping at the foot of the statue. Upon noticing, she instantly rose and charged towards me to try to collect donations which as it goes with Angkor, are solely used for personal enrichment of a person who collected it. This prompted me to shoot off.
However since Vihear Prampil Loveng covers quite an area, I got out of her sight quickly and was able to spend a little more time taking pictures of what fascinates me about Angkor the most – trees growing over ancient stones.
The Khleangs are two larger structures facing the Angkor Thom Royal Palace area from behind the Prasat Suor Prat Towers. One on each side of Victory Way, scholars doubt The Khleangs would have been made to function as store houses as their current Khmer name would suggest.
The North Khleang was built at the end of the 10th, beginning of 11th century, proceeding the South Khleang by a few hundred years signifying that the original purpose was not to build symmetrical buildings. The inscriptions on the North Khleang repeatedly mention king Jayaviravarman suggesting that it was built during his reign.
The South Khleang was probably built during the reign of king Suryavarman I and it was likely meant to improve the symmetry of the Royal Palace area. The South Khleang is narrower than his northern brother, less architectonically striking and was left unfinished.
Two pools were built to flank The Khleangs on inner sides but during my visit only south pool had water in it. It is my understanding that The Khleangs were built in their own distinguished style, but despite this potentially intriguing architectonic uniqueness I didn’t find them anything special and moved on to Vihear Prampil Loveng which is just as unattractive as The Khleangs but houses the statue of Buddha that was originally inside the central sanctuary of Bayon, but later destroyed by king Jayavarman VIII.
Baphuon temple is located to the north-west of Bayon. It was built in 1060 which means it stood at its location long before the royal city of Angkor Thom was built around it. Erected during the reign of king Udayadityavarman II (ruled from 1050 to 1066), Baphuon was the state temple of Yasodharapura. Being a very old structure, Baphuon is in a great state of ruin and in desperate need of repair. Unfortunately for me, restoration works were well underway during my visit with main area of the temple mountain being off limit to tourists. Several high cranes were spoiling the view so pictures look rather crappy. It has been known for centuries that Cambodians are the laziest people in the world, but luckily the Baphuon restoration project is financed by the government of France with foreign workers involved so hopefully the temple will open for public soon.
The entrance gopura is in line with the Terrace of the Elephants which serves as an entry point to the royal palace area. Few steps got me on a narrow, 172 meters long causeway leading to the temple. The causeway must have been added later as it’s no where near as collapsed as the temple itself. There were two basins on each side of the causeway and one rectangular shaped basin to the south of the cross shaped pavilion in the middle of it.
Even though I couldn’t access the temple itself, I stood in awe over its size. It appears to be taller than nearby Bayon and consist of four or five floors (unlike Bayon which only has three). I walked around Baphuon noticing countless stone blocks randomly scattered along the fields surrounding the temple. Construction noise was coming from within giving an impression that works are being done to make the temple accessible to public one day. Wooden stairs are being built for easier access to upper levels of the temple but how long it’ll take to make it safe for visiting is anyone’s guess.
I understand there is an impressive statue of a reclining Buddha in western gallery of the second tier, but for obvious reasons I never got to see it. I can also imagine the view of Angkor Thom from the summit much be impressive. Perhaps one day when restoration of Baphuon is finished and temple made available for visit, I will make it back to Cambodia and get to see what I couldn’t during my first visit.
To the north-west of majestic Bayon temple is a small Buddhist shrine called Preah Ngok (sometimes spelled as Preah Ngoc). Even though small in overall size, it houses a rather large statue of Buddha sitting with his legs crossed and eyes only slightly open. The shrine appears to be reasonably modern, but the statue itself is believed to have come from late Angkorian era. Some say the statue has been there since the 13th century even though the chapel itself has been rebuilt several times over the centuries.
Because of its small size and apparent insignificance, the Preah Ngok shrine is missed by most visitors to Angkor. I had the whole thing for myself when I made my brief pause to take a few pictures of it, however a few Cambodian nuns sporting shaved heads and white robes kept me company. Through my own eyes, the most significant part of Preah Ngok appeared to be its similarity to more famous shrine called Tep Pranam which is located just north of the Terrace of the Leper King and aside from looking strikingly similar, it also houses a statue of Buddha that looks virtually identical to that of Preah Ngok.
I don’t know the reason behind such similarities and I’m quite likely the only person in the world who noticed that. None of the locals I spoke with seemed to have noticed or cared and none of the guide books to Angkor ever compared the two. But that’s probably because none of the guide books ever mentions Preah Ngok in the first place.
Bayon Northern Library was the most intriguing structure I have found within the Angkor Thom state temple. The northern library is a small, stand alone building in the north-east corner of Bayon. There is a twin sister of the library located in the south-east corner of Bayon, but this one is in a very desolate state whereas the northern one has undergone extensive restoration by the team of Japanese professionals who brought it to the state at which I found it.
There were more locals and tourists at the northern library than anywhere else within Bayon. It was very intriguing to see so many people concentrated around one single structure so I felt inclined to come and check it out closely. To my disappointment there was absolutely nothing about this structure making it special, however in the process of exploring, I have learned a lot about the restoration process conducted by the JSA. The information panels had this to say:
Northern Library was one of the most dangerous structures in Bayon Temple complex. JSA carried out the restoration work in accordance with the following principles:
Preserving not only the appearance, but also the original construction method to the furthest extent possible.
Restoration methods applied so far has focused on reinforcing the soil around the compound with the concrete wall and installation of sandstone on the outer side as a veneer. Considering lack of original materials and insufficient manpower at the beginning of the project, this was the best option available. JSA was committed to respecting the traditional construction methods to the fullest extent but was also determined to apply modern construction know-how to eliminate structural weaknesses of the original method.
Applying the stabilizing process of the compound soil layer using the solidification mechanism.
After successful experiments with slake lime, the decision has been made to add small amounts to the sand to reinforce the soil under and around the northern library. By applying this method, sandstone and laterite blocks fulfil both ornamental and structural functions of the construction material used in the past.
Procuring new materials.
In order to use original construction methods, it is necessary to procure the same material. Restoration of lost parts is impossible without sufficient supply of sandstone and laterite used during the original construction. After searching for stones with the co-operation of the Ministry of Mine and Energy of Cambodia for two years, JSA finally succeeded in obtaining sandstone that was in color and hardness close to the kind used in Bayon. Restoration works progressed after new laterite blocks were quarried, allowing for replacement of significantly deteriorated lateriate blocks in the foundation mass with new ones. The original delay was caused by immediate proximity of the quarry to the Khmer Rouge camp surrounded by heavily undermined minefields, and absence of good roads.
Restoration methods by the partial dismantling.
Because the roof and walls had suffered from considerable deformation due to uneven settlements, dismantling and reconstructions were necessary. East and west corners of the library were beyond repair, however because the central part of the foundation mass sank evenly, it was possible to leave it in its original condition, dismantling only the corner edges of the building.
Exploring Bayon is a challenging but rewarding experience. The temple is very complex both in terms of architecture and symbolism and offers many an opportunity to theorize on its structure and meaning. King Jayavarman VII who had the temple built had it altered several times but the modifications continued even after his death. It is believed that when originally built, Bayon had 49 face towers – towers adorned with giant faces each facing one cardinal point. Even after extensive restoration works, only 37 of Bayon’s towers are still standing. Let’s take a look at some of Bayon’s facts. This guide will be accompanied with pictures.
Just as is the case with most Angkor temples, Bayon faces east. I approached Bayon from the south after crossing the South Gate of Angkor Thom and turned right on the T intersection which got me on the road encircling the temple. Turning right took me to the main entrance in front of which I parked my bicycle (at the elephant station).
Broad, two-levelled terrace serving as an approach to Bayon is guarded by stone lions and naga serpent as balustrades on far sides. Despite extensive restoration works, much of the terrace is in desolate state but the feel of walking on ancient stones is much stronger than any other structure at Angkor. The sun was frying me alive and was far more intense now as it got closer to noon, than it was during my exploration of Angkor Wat.
Entrance gopura (gate) consists mostly of collapsed stone frames serving as doors but there are no walls. Piles of giant stones lie scattered randomly around as archaeologists try to figure out which ones belong together so they can paste the whole temple together to its intended look.
Galleries within outer enclosure contain extensive carvings and bas reliefs. It comes as a striking contrast seeing fine work of artists who skilfully covered entire exterior wall with beautiful bas reliefs against the pile of disorganized, large rectangular stones laid piled up right opposite of it. Much work needs to be done to fully restore Bayon.
I turned left at the main entrance because the bas relief on this section of the outer wall seemed the most interesting. The carvings continue around the corner and throughout the south wall which has its own, collapsed gopura. There are several chapels within the exterior wall that can be entered as you’re exploring the bas reliefs. Because Bayon was a state temple, I think these chapels once house statues of divinities.
As I got within the outer enclosure, the face towers took more distinct shape. From the outside they appear as a disorganized pile of rocks sticking up. Countless hallways and wall-less corridors make navigation trickier as you get inside. Several flights of stairs are available to take to get to the second and third levels. Some are easy to climb, others downright dangerous, especially if you’re carrying a DSLR camera like I did.
Because Bayon was remodelled so many times after taking its original shape, exploring the interior of the temple is a bit confusing. The temple is large to begin with but oddly structured galleries and terraces which were added later made it difficult to set out on an obviously best way to explore it all. The best way for me to describe it is by thinking of it as a maze without walls. You can exit any corridor through the wall that is not there and get to another corridor through the wall it doesn’t have. It’s literally akin to cheating in a videogame. You are an explorer of an ancient temple on a mission to find holy grail, but you hacked the game and can just take shortcuts.
The face towers are clearly the most attractive and photogenic (picture friendly) part of Bayon. Aside from crowning the entrance gates (gopuras), the face towers can also be found at corner angles but also as free-standing pillars on upper level. Because many of these towers were added later, they don’t seem to be placed in any logical order and just give an impression of being there to rise up to the sky.
When I reached the upper terrace, I was offered several good opportunities to take pictures of the giant faces. The space on top seems more organized with fewer collapsed structures and it’s overall less tight (as far as breathing space is involved). From here you can get up close and personal with the free-standing face towers.
Historical inscriptions suggests that Jayavarman VIII, a rather insignificant Khmer king who took over the kingdom after Jayavarman VII has order a destruction of Buddhist symbols and initiated conversion to Hinduism. It was during his rule, when 3.6 meters tall statue of Buddha sitting on a body of a serpent whose multi-headed head shelters him was destroyed. Remarkably, all pieces of this statue, which was originally housed in the oval sanctuary at the heart of Bayon, were recovered enabling full restoration of the image. There are several smaller replicas of the same statue throughout Bayon, but the original, restored piece was relocated and is currently housed in Vihear Prampil Loveng – a small pavilion south of the Victory Way (road connecting Victory Gate with the Royal Palace area), next to South Khleang.
When you get to a sanctuary housing a statue of Buddha, there will likely be some locals inside as well. They sit and patiently wait inside with incense sticks at the ready and as soon as a foreigner enters the room, the sticks will be handed to them. It is a natural instinct of every person to take what is offered to them, especially if statue of a local divinity is present. This is exactly what these people are counting on because once you grab a hold of what is handed to you, they won’t be taking it back but will be insisting that you make a donation that as they claim, would go to the monks and to the preservation of the temple. None of the money provided will ever make it to any purpose other than personal enrichment of a person who gets the money from you. Just as almost everything else in Cambodia, this is a scam. The best way to protect yourself is to never ever impulsively take anything that is handed to you. No matter whether the person handing you stuff is a kid, or a nun with shaved head and robe draped around her body – the purpose is to abuse the presence of the divinity and scam you out of money. Don’t be surprised if you get told to “f%$k off” or called “stingy” or “a$$hole” by a kid whom you didn’t give any money. You may not see this anywhere else in the world, but in Cambodia, touts will not hesitate to call you names and swear straight in your face if they fail at scamming you of money.
Once I got the layout of Bayon more or less figured out, I saw it as a structure consisting out of three main sections. Starting from top middle, there is an oval sanctuary that is the center of the temple originally assigned to house the large statue of Buddha which was later destroyed as described above. The oval sanctuary is surrounded by four corridors creating an orthodox cross around it. These serve as access points to the sanctuary with east entrance being the largest. This is the third, top tier of Bayon.
Second tier consists of rectangular inner galleries (second enclosure) encircling the orthodox cross with the circular sanctuary in the middle of it. First tier consists of outer galleries (exterior enclosure). Passages at each cardinal point connect outer galleries with the inner ones.
Bayon is covered with extensive bas reliefs. Earlier carvings mostly contain scenes from every day life at Angkor Thom as well as the battles with Champa armies on the great lake whereas later carvings contain scenes from Hindu mythology, signifying the conversion of the religion during the reign of Jayavarman VIII.
Bayon was a temple honouring a host of gods which gave it the name of “Tevea Vinichay”, which loosely translates as “Assembly of the Gods”. Its principal sanctuary housed an image of Buddha, but dozens of other sanctuaries housed various provincial and local Khmer gods. Inscriptions on door jabs of these small sanctuaries tell us about the many gods housed by them during the reign of Jayavarman VII.
North East corner of Bayon has a small, stand alone gallery with many people inside. There was another such gallery at the south-east corner but because that part of Bayon is in much ruin, there was nobody there. I thought something interesting must surely be within the gallery given the number of people inside and around it so I went to take a climb. The access was extremely difficult as stone steps are high and steep, much steeper than I had seen anywhere before. To my disappointment, there was absolutely nothing inside. I think people were just hanging in there, killing time. Some interesting bas reliefs could be found on the outer wall of the gallery, otherwise nothing excessively special about it.
I spent several hours exploring Bayon. I started in late morning and wasn’t done until early afternoon. This basically means that I spent the hottest part of the day marking the ancient stones of the temple with my sweat. As I found out later, this was a great idea. Vast majority of organized tours take their high paying customers back to Siem Reap during noon hours so they can have lunch in one of the air-conditioned restaurants. The number of tourists at Angkor drops significantly during that time. As such, it is advisable for solo explorers to brave the midday heat and continue exploring the temples during lunch hours despite intense sun.
Because Bayon is the second most famous temple of Angkor (second only to Angkor Wat) and is a must-see for everyone coming to Angkor Archaeological Park, there were a few dozen people sharing the temple with me despite scorching midday sun. However it is better to have to share it with a few dozen people, than with hundreds, who on top of it all have an escort with an umbrella to shelter them from the sun and oftentimes a guide as well.
The best time to visit Bayon would be either very early in the morning (when all organized tours are at Angkor Wat), during noon (when all organized tours are back in Siem Reap for lunch) or in late afternoon (after 4pm, when all organized tours are either in Banteay Srei or already lining people up to go on Phnom Bakheng to watch sunset from the hill). The worst time of the day would be between 8am and 10.30am when dozens of buses full of rich tourists park it next to the temple and release hundreds of people to swarm the temple, turning it into an anthill full of crawling creatures.
Even though already completely devastated from exposure to extreme sun, after I was done exploring Bayon, I was still determined to complete the small circuit the same day. I was done with two of the largest structures to explore, but many more to go. Angkor Thom itself had several more iconic pieces nearby. I made an attempt to stop at one of the food stalls north west of the temple but touts were so aggressive, I opted for a swift dart off. The temple of Baphuon, which is 200 years older than Bayon was next.
After the silhouette of Angkor Wat, the Face Towers of Bayon temple are the most iconic and enigmatic images of Angkor. There are currently 37 towers adorning Bayon with gargantuan faces of Avalokiteshvara, remarkably resembling features of king Jayavarman VII who had them built. While looking at the face towers of Bayon from the ground level delivers little thrill, walking up to the top level of the temple and standing face to face with these giant heads – almost looking them in the eyes, more than makes up for it. Because Bayon Face Towers are an icon on their own, I have decided to create a photo gallery dedicated especially to them, separately from main Bayon temple photo gallery.
Bayon was built by king Jayavarman VII as his state temple at the end of 12th century, after he drove out the Chams who sacked the place. Today, Bayon is best known for its iconic towers crowned with four giant faces, each looking out to a respective cardinal point. Bayon is the center of Angkor Thom and symbolizes Mount Meru, sacred mountain in the center of the universe (inspired from Hindu cosmology). This photo gallery is a collection of photographs I took of Bayon temple when I was exploring it.
Bayon has a multitude of symbolic functions. Outer walls of Angkor Thom constitute its outermost enclosure within which Bayon stands as the pivotal mountain in the Churning of the Sea of Milk. Protected at each entrance by Hindu serpent Vasuki, the gods and demons who rotate it exert the “Elixir of Immortality” from the depths of the water that surrounds it.
Bayon was built to be a Mahayana Buddhist temple. Statue of Buddha seated on and sheltered by a multi-headed serpent Mucilinda was originally housed in the central prasat but was later smashed and thrown into the foundation well after death of Jayavarman VII, indicating change in religion (revival of Brahmanism). The statue went out of knowledge until it was re-discovered by archaeologists in 1933.
Bayon’s exterior galleries have walls covered in bas reliefs but aside from a few passages, lack roofs. Many bas relief characters are Chinese, who are seen as both soldiers and businessmen, often with Khmer women, sometimes with friends drinking and dancing. Random scenes from daily life of people occupying the Angkor Thom city compound are portrayed in bas reliefs of exterior galleries. I’ll let the pictures introduce you to the beauty of the Bayon temple: