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What are the new seven wonders of the world? 100 million people in 200 countries voted on the new list and although Angkor Wat was a finalist, it did not make the top seven. But I’m thinking that this had a lot more to do with the voting populations of Italy, Brazil and Mexico than anything else. I have seen the Colliseum in Rome and the ruins of Chichen Itza and let me tell you neither of them can hold a candle to Angkor Wat.

First there is the size of these things. There isn’t just one temple, there are dozens that cover miles of territory, about the size of metropolitan Toronto. There there is the scale of each temple. You could drop the Collesium inside the moat of Angkor Wat with lots of room to spare.

As for Chichen Itza. It was impressive, but again it just one site. Imagine a walled city large enough to hold a population over over a million, dotted with temples and ruled from the center by the brooding face of Jayavarmen VII staring at you on all four sides of 54 massive pillars. Or a palace that covers five acres with a fronting wall a long as the Houses of Parliament in England decorated with bas relief sculptures of parading elephants. This leads to a promenade down to a ten acre man-made lake and you begin to get an idea of the scope of the ancient Angkor whose civilization extended from Vietnam to Burma.

The dozen temple sites that we were able to see were remarkable for their originality and scope. From the regal Angkor Wat, to the enigmatic Bayon to the eerie Ta Prohm, backdrop for Tomb Raider, where the jungle has reclaimed its own, each site had its own splendor and story in the history of this remarkable empire.

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