OK...OK, I admit it...I am a nerd when it comes to archaeological temple sites. I do lots of prep work before visiting the sites, I get more information during the visits and I read whatever I can after my visit. Be it the Borobodur or Prambanan on Java, Ayuttaya or Sukhothai in Thailand or those hundreds of Khmer temples I have visited in Thailand, Laos and of course in the Kingdom of Cambodia.
As promised at the beginning of this blog, here is a list of the books I used to study the temples. Well, it's rather a stack of books which I used for my visits to Angkor. Some are in German, most are in English. Some are pure guide books and some focus on the whole history of the Khmer empire. All are good and all are different, focusing on a different method to visit the temples.
My two favourite books are the following:
Dawn Rooney's Angkor - Cambodia's Wondrous Khmer Temples.
This is my bible to visit the temples. I had an old edition back in the year 2000, which was of great value to us. As I mentioned before though, I made the error to think that I could use the book and read it as a guide while walking alone through the temples. That mistake I would not repeat anymore. The book is great for background information in combination with a really good tour guide! For my 2012 visit to Angkor I used a new edition, much thicker and with much more information and more plans. I love the suggested temple itineraries and followed them as much as possible but with slight variations which my tour guide suggested (to avoid the masses). The book offers great but basic maps, some colour photos and lots of detailed information on the temple's location, access, tips, background information by temple. A real value when visiting Angkor & beyond.
The second book that made it to the top of my list is a new book which I just bought as I boarded my plane in Phom Penh in 2012. Its the first edition (2011) of:
Focusing on the Angkor Temples - The Guidebook, by Michel Petrotchenko.
While I was sceptical at first when I read the red side bar on the book, stating "THE ULTIMATE ANGKOR GUIDEBOOK", I still had a look inside. And I was seriously wow'ed! This is truly a one of a kind guide book. It has every piece of information about the temples, it's history, it's architecture, it's specialties in any combination one could possibly think of. While it contains a great set of history and on religion it contains the most detailed and most in depth and colour coded maps on the temples I have ever seen. Different colours for the various stones used and even colour codes for collapsed sections of the temple. Zoomed-in plans followed by detailed plans narrated by "annotated" plans. It might be more than the casual Angkor visitor can handle but it is the dream for anyone who wants to do the great Angkor Wat temples justice and understand them in more detail. I am looking forward bringing it with me on my next trip! Again, the book and my personal (human) tour guide will be a great combination!