Even as far as the studies made by the explorer-scholars of the École française d'Extrême-Orient, Cambodia remains a shell of its former glory. It's illustrious history was written in friezes and bas reliefs that captivated us about what might have been if the Khmer Empire survived to its day. They have ruled the region for thousands of years until foreign enemies sacked its cities and pillaged the country side. After years of bloodshed, the French came in and incorporated the region under the political entity called French Indochina.
The French ruled the region like an overseas estate and scholars took advantage of learning Angkor and the Khmer Empire. As Angkor was rediscovered, Siem Reap has grown to become a very important tourist attraction with its allure captivated comedy legend Charlie Chaplin and U.S. first lady Jacqueline Kennedy. Unfortunately, the brutal spectre of the Khmer Rouge destroyed the tourism industry with the news of genocide engulfing the whole country like the Nazi-occupied Europe once had.
Today, gigantic tree stumps and roots have taken over the massive Angkor Wat complex as if nature is winning over the lands populated by this legendary and mythical people of Cambodia's past. Postcards of the bygone era and rare relics from the past can capture our imagination as to how people viewed Angkor and the Khmer people in general.
Not about the horrors of seeing skulls lined up like pyramid of death. Pol Pot may have escaped retribution but let's not forget the story of Angkor and the cultural legacy it left behind like the Hindu epic of Mahabharata in stone reliefs, the life story of Suryavarman carved by thousands of workers, and awesome magnificence of the temple structure over the forest trees.