Saturday, November 1, 2014

Angkor Wat !!!

Tick it off the bucket list...I've been to Angkor Wat!...and Angkor Thom, Bayon Temple, Ta Prohm Temple and Baphuon Temple...

According to Wikipedia:
"Angkor  is a region of Cambodia that served as the seat of the Khmer Empire, which flourished from approximately the 9th to 15th centuries. ... The ruins of Angkor are located amid forests and farmland near modern-day Siem Reap. The temples of the Angkor area number over one thousand, ranging in scale from nondescript piles of brick rubble scattered through rice fields to the magnificent Angkor Wat, said to be the world's largest single religious monument. Many of the temples at Angkor have been restored, and together, they comprise the most significant site of Khmer architecture. Visitors approach two million annually, and the entire expanse, including Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom is collectively protected as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The popularity of the site among tourists presents multiple challenges to the preservation of the ruins."

Fabulous day...but it would have been so much better if I'd still had my girls here'll see how bare my photos look without anyone in them (except random tourists...)

I was picked up by my own tuktuk and personal English speaking guide - Chhay - at 9am and off we went. The day's outing cost me $65 for them and another $20 for a One day pass to the Angkor National Park....check it even has my photo on it!

Angkor Wat was built in the twelfth century, the fourth of the ancient temple sites, and is surrounded by this massive moat... 250m wide and 3m deep. Imagine the manpower needed to achieve that 800 years ago!

The scale of this site is mind-blowing...especially when you consider that EVERYTHING was achieved using manual labour and it has survived for centuries! It spreads over 195 hectares. 
Originally dedicated to the Hindu god, Vishnu, it was later modified to be a Buddhist temple. Apparently had that been the other way round, the Hindus would have destroyed all evidence of Buddhism worship. However, Buddhists tolerate other religions, so the original Hindu carvings and statues can still be seen.


The wall friezes are impressive. The reliefs sculpted on the Western section of the Southern Gallery commemorate a series of historical events from the reign of King Suryavarman II (or Paramavishnuloka), the founder of Angkor Wat.

The reliefs sculpted on the Southern section of the Western gallery represent the concluding  of the Mahabharata, a renowned Indian epic tale. This is the Battle of Kurukshetra, when two clans met in final deadly combat. What I found most interesting was that the two sides of this tug-of-war are being spurred on by monkey-faced demon-gods.

There are many buildings still standing around the complex. The larger buildings are accessed by incredibly steep stone stairways.

Chhay stayed down in the courtyard while I climbed the stairs to the biggest one...a stiff climb in the extreme heat!

So hot!! Incredibly, way up here on this temple "mountain" there are large pools (now empty) which were once reservoirs of water. Amazing feats of engineering....and all this stone is supported from below with several stories of other rooms and chambers... amazing.

Everywhere you look there's more to has been so hard to choose from my hundreds of photos!

After climbing back down that horrendously steep stair, Chhay took me to a shady spot where we sat for a while and just talked about Australia, Vietnam, and Cambodia...comparing the different cultures. One interesting thing Chhay said was that Cambodian girls value their virginity extremely highly. For a Cambodian girl, it is catastrophic if she loses her virginity before much so that girls commit suicide over it. I totally didn't expect that in a country that's notorious for it's child sex industry...makes that whole pedophilia scene even more despicable.

Our next stop was Bayon Temple, one of the largest Mahayana Buddhist temples in the Angkor complex. It was built in the heart of the ancient city of Angkor Thom. It was constructed in the late 12th, early 13th centuries AD during the reign of King Jayavarman VII.

The Bayon's most distinctive feature is the multitude of massive, serene stone faces carved on its many towers.

Bas relief carvings here have weathered remarkably well, depicting daily life as well as wars.


Another small three-tiered temple mountain we visited was Baphuon Temple, built in the mid 11th century by Udayadityavarman II and dedicated to the Hindu god, Shiva.

Once again, I climbed to the top while Chhay stayed on the ground.... again, those ridiculously steep steps to climb. I think they were designed to be climbed on hands and knees to keep the worshippers duly penitent! They have been modified recently because too many tourists were falling! We get handrails and wider steps...


I don't remember what this one was called...but it was a small temple used for private worship by one of the ancient kings.

We stopped before the last one so Chhay could have some lunch. I'm on a cleanse day, so I didn't eat, but we talked for a while about Isagenix. He was very interested.... Especially when I told him we would be coming to Cambodia in the next year or so.

Saved the best till last...Ta Prohm Temple - more recently famous as the Tomb Raider Temple.

Restoration work throughout Angkor is being undertaken by International bodies - for the work is painstaking and very expensive.

Once through the gate, the road is a pleasant walk through the jungle. These musicians along the way were all amputees, victims of the Khmer Rouge wars. 


Photos simply don't do this site justice... the massive white tree roots seem to be moving as they gradually strangle the huge structures.

This carving is famous, for it depicts a stegosaurus! That raises some serious questions for evolutionists who believe dinosaurs became extinct millions of years ago....  haha...


What an unforgettable experience... I can't describe how fascinating this place is. I wish my imagination was vibrant enough to 'see' what it was like when people were constructing and using these incredible buildings.

By the time I got back to the hotel my clothes were saturated, so I lost no time getting into the shower...then hand washed my clothes!  So nice to be clean and cool in the air-conditioning.

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