Sample Passages of Primary 5 English Papers (2013)

        "You are now standing right before the Angkor Wat!" exclaimed our Cambodian guide. It is indeed an impressive sight. My friends and I could hardly wait to set foot in the world-famous monument. Our visit to the Angkor Wat, an ancient city located in the vicinity of Lake Tonle Sap, was part of an educational trip organized and fully sponsored by the school. Built more than 800 years ago, the Angkor Wat is now an icon of Cambodia, a country in South East Asia.
        According to the brochure given to us, the Angkor Wat was constructed in the twelfth century as the capital city of the former Khmer empire. At the height of its power, the Khmer empire ruled over present-day countries like Cambodia, Thailand, Laos and Vietnam. The Khmers are the ancestors of people living in Cambodia today. Building the Angkor Wat was no simple matter. It involved the Khmer people who themselves contributed a large number of architects, sculptors and other skilled workers. At the same time, thousands of slaves captured by the Khmer kings in their conquests were forced to provide much needed hard labour.
        The Angkor Wat occupies a sprawling site of more than 30 football fields. Stepping into the colossal structure, we were greeted by multi-storey buildings, intricate wall carvings, magnificent statues and other resplendent structures. The design of the Angkor Wat shows that the Khmers excelled in science and mathematics. The advanced state of the Khmer civilization is also seen in its sophisticated water management system. A complex network of canals was put in place to meet the need of the people.
        Historians believe that the Khmer empire started to weaken in the fourteenth century. A combination of persistent water shortages, diseases, overcrowding and wars eventually led to its downfall. In 1467, the Angkor Wat was abandoned after it was attacked by a large army from the Ayutthaya kingdom. Thereafter, the surrounding forests gradually encroached on the city and hid it from view.
        It was only in 1858 that the Angkor Wat was revealed to the world. A French explorer, Henri Mourot, reportedly stumbled upon it when he was looking for rare butterflies in the dense jungles of Cambodia. The discovery immediately grabbed the attention of scholars, journalists and even treasure hunters worldwide. Long-standing rumours that an ancient civilization had once existed in Cambodia were finally confirmed.
        Today, the Angkor Wat embodies the pride of the Cambodian people. The guide said, "It gives us a sense of historical and cultural importance that we are the descendents of a glorious people."
        He added that for the Khmer state, one of the poorest nations in the world, the Angkor Wat has an important economic significance. As a renowned tourist attraction, it draws a large number of overseas visitors to the country every year. The tourists help to provide jobs and business opportunities for the Cambodians. In 1978, the Angkor Wat was designated as a World Heritage Site. The status allows the Cambodian government to receive a sum of money every year from the United Nations to maintain and preserve the antiquated city.

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