Friday, August 21, 2009

Cambodia Part 2: Inside Angkor Wat, Siem Reap

The land area occupied by the main Angkor Wat temple measures 1,300 meters north-south, and 1,500 meters east-west. The whole area of Angkor however, which includes other equally ancient and beautiful temples like Bayon, is much, much larger. Here, I have posted pictures and information of only the main temple, which is Angkor Wat. I will talk about Bayon and other surrounding temples in my other subsequent post later on.

A person entering the main Angkor Wat temple first approaches an entrance causeway that takes him or her across the 200 meter wide moat. On the opposite shore is an entrance pavilion measuring 230 meters north-south. Its central bays have three passages that elephants could fit through for royal processions. Past the entrance gate is a long causeway that runs for over 300 meters, decorated with mythical dragon or naga. The actual temple sits on a sandstone plinth a meter above the ground.

This is the 300 meters long causeway.

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This is the compound around the long causeway and part of the temple exterior.

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Locals and tourists
thronging along the 300 meters long causeway coming into the main temple.

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Views through the carved stone balustrades that surround the perimeters of the temple.

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This is one of the 'libraries' on the west side.
The steps are really steep. Easy to get up, but like me, you'll probably tremble trying to get down.

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To the east of the west gate of the first enclosure is a series of four rooms arranged in a cruciform. Each room is surrounded by a continuous gallery and has a sunken floor where ponds used to be. This is one of the rooms in the western cruciform.

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Spectacular stone masonry carved in place can be found all around the walls of a
continuous gallery that runs along the outside face of the temple wall.

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The inner face is decorated with 700 meters of continuous bas reliefs of "Apsaras" or heavenly nymphs or female spirits of the clouds and waters in Hindu mythology. "Apsaras" are believed to have supernatural powers, of great beauty and elegance and who are proficient in the art of dancing. "Apsaras" remain an integral part of Cambodian civilization.

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Hope you have enjoyed the journey into Angkor Wat. Look out for more on Bayon, Ta Phrom and other sides of Cambodia in my future posts.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Cambodia Part 1 - The Sun Rises Over Angkor Wat, Siem Reap

CAMBODIA....the land of the great, magnificent temples and heart of steel of its people. And the land of the massacred millions. There is no place on earth quite like Cambodia. In the centre of worldwide reverence for all its glory and greatness of the past that are evident in the mighty Angkor Wat that stands as a UNESCO World Heritage Site today, lies a darkened past that is just too bitter to swallow, too painful to forget and too sad to remember - the Killing Fields where millions died in the brutal hands of the Khmer Rouge regime in the 1970s.

If you're a sentimental person at heart, Cambodia will swallow all of your emotions and make you reflect on the many things that may have made you unhappy - an argument with loved ones, evil boss, nasty neighbor, cheating partner, rude waitress, or your sunken fruit cake. It will stir your thoughts and make your tolerance for pain higher than it was before as you walk down the streets and see a limbless victim of a landmine blast, or as you get mobbed by a crowd of thin and dirty-looking kids in shabby, torn clothes age 7 or younger pulling at your clothes, tailing and begging you to enter a purchase transaction for a handmade craft for US$1.

If you're on a mission to seek spiritual enhancement, Cambodia will fulfill that void in you and help you find calmness if you go to the right places.

If you're just there for fun, well, it won't be much of a fun as you will probably return to the comforts of your plush bed and pillows vowing to never waste money again for a place that's dusty, undeveloped, poor and no shopping but just boring temples to see.

If you're there for something else on the twisted side preying on the innocent, desperate and poor, well, let me remind you that your karma will come back to haunt you and it is your only possession that follows you after death in this life.

Mention Cambodia, one immediately identifies it with its national treasure, Angkor Wat.

These are pictures of the world famous, magnificent and majestic colossal temple, Angkor Wat in Siem Reap, taken while awaiting for sunrise at around 5.30am.

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Be sure to get there early by booking a tuk-tuk (a local motor-trishaw) the day before. I made this trip (my 1st) there last year (please disregard the wrong year setting in the photos as it should be 2008) with a good friend and we were elated to capture these stunning views. You can see sunrise almost everywhere, but seeing it over Angkor, it brings a whole different meaning to it.

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Angkor Wat represents one of humankind's most astonishing and enduring architectural achievements. Today, it is one of the most visited historical sites in the world.