Douglas John Booth, an English actor and musician renowned for his role as Boy George in the BBC, embarked on a journey that would see him ascend to the top of the world’s largest religious monument, the Angkor Wat Temple in Siem Reap, Cambodia on May 23, 2016. This ancient temple is not just a testament to the architectural prowess of the Khmer Empire but also a symbol of Cambodia’s rich cultural heritage.
Angkor Wat, first discovered by French naturalist Henri Mouhout between 1858 and 1860, has been known to local people since its abandonment in 1432. Despite this knowledge, the temple complex remained largely untouched until the French began looting treasures from the site in the 1870s. From the 1920s and 30s, Angkor Wat began to attract the attention of the rich and fashionable, marking its status as a significant tourist attraction.
Climbing to the top of this iconic monument is no easy feat due to its extensive grounds and uneven steps, making this accomplishment by Booth all the more impressive. The awe-inspiring beauty of Angkor Wat lies in its intricate carvings that adorn virtually all of its surfaces, columns, lintels, and roofs. The temple’s miles of reliefs illustrate scenes from Indian literature including warriors following an elephant-mounted leader, celestial dancing girls, and mythical creatures such as unicorns and winged dragons pulling chariots.
Despite sustaining minimal damage during times of war, some statues were looted and certain areas were landmined. Yet, through various restoration efforts carried out by different countries and organizations, the Siem Reap Temples continue to stand as magnificent as ever.
Douglas Booth’s ascent to the top of Angkor Wat not only signifies a personal achievement but also serves as a reminder of the breathtaking beauty and historical significance that the ancient temples of Siem Reap offer. As such, the Angkor Wat Temple in Cambodia remains an awe-inspiring place to visit.