Saturday, 27 December 2014

... and all the rest of Angkor

I hope that you are not yet bored will all these temples in Angkor. Because we still have some left! We will leave Angkor Thom by the North Gate.

Neak Poan is different from all the temples that we have see so far because it is located on a lake or more precisely on an artificial island. To access it we need to walk on a little pier.

Here comes the lake and the island. The lake is supposed to have healing powers thanks to a special balance between the four elements.

And the temple itself. It is small but nice.

The second temple I wish to show you is Preah Khan. Originally, it was something between a Buddhist temple and a university.

Unfortunately today the jungle has, again, taken its revenge on the work of the humans.

As a result most ceilings and walls have collapsed.

So it is a sad dance this time.

Last but not least, let me take you to Banteay Srei, that is around 25 kilometers from Angkor Thom. It dates back to 10th century. The buildings are very small but their peculiarity is that they are made of red stone.

The red stone allows easy curving, the resuls of which can be still admired today.

I liked this elephant in particular.

From the other side, the buildings are surrounded with water.

 Bearing this in mind, they are surprisingly well preserved.

And yes my friends, this was the last story from Angkor. Time to take the last and final breath of the Cambodian air. It is funny but it reminds me of the Biebrza National Park that I have shown you some time ago.

Saturday, 20 December 2014

Angkor Thom

Angkor Thom was a walled city, the last capital of the Khmer Empire. It was founded in twelfth century. The best known building in the city is the Bayon temple which used to be the official state temple.

Bayon is famous in particular for the numerous stone faces curved on the top of the walls and towers. In total, there are over two hundred of them!

Here you can see closer one of them.

The inner courtyard is large and surrounded with yet some more faces.

They look into all the directions.

Let's walk inside.

The walls are decorated with many sculptures. I liked a lot these dancing ladies. Or gentlemen. I am not really sure here.

And for all those asking themselves - where is Buddha in all that? Well, he is here. And do not be fooled by the child sitting next to me. Compare the size of the statue with the adult next to it.

Since Angkor Thom was a capital city (it is estimated that it had around a hundred thousand inhabitants!) it had of course more than one temple. I will show you as well Baphuon, first dedicated to Shiva and then again to Buddha.

Believe it or not but it is starting to rain! 

Let's better get inside.

Unfortunately "inside" is somehow still outside since the ceilings have collapsed in most rooms and corridors.

Anyway, the rain is warm (the temperature here never falls below 20-25 degrees) so let's just ignore it. I propose we go up this tower to get a better overview of the place.

It must have been an impressive temple in the old days.

Today not so much is left from its past glory.

Alright, we get down - mind your steps, everything is so high in here.

You will probably tell me it is not possible that a capital city consists only of temples. Of course you are right. The king of a mighty empire must have been an outstanding warrior. To receive tributes from his victorious army he needed a platform. A big platform. 350 meters long to be more precise.

It is called the Terrace of the Elephants because of the very many elephants presented there.

Elephants serve also as pillars.

Of course nowadays the Cambodian army does not recruit elephants just like it does not recruit horses. But you can see some on the walls.

Look, the sun is shining again. This was a short rain only. So let's take a last look into the stone faces.

Let's have now a little nap under a tree. You are not sure if we will find one big enough? Just compare this one to the size of a bus. Or more buses. Should be enough for a horse and a few friends.

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Angkor Wat and Ta Prohm

As promised, today we will start our visit to the national jewel of Cambodia - Angkor.

You will surely not be surprised that Angkor is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The entire Angkor complex is really huge (40,100 ha) and all parts of it are fascinating. Therefore, I have decided to split my story into a couple of posts. Today I will take you to Angkor Wat and Ta Prohm.

In my opinion, the best view of Angkor Wat can be seen from a hill near by, called Phnom Bakheng.

Phnom Bakheng is actually a Hindu temple dedicated to Shiva, built in 9th century. But do not be fooled - this crowd is not here to worship the Cosmic Dancer.

They all came here to admire the sunset over Angkor Wat. And the mist as well (at least today).

Angkor Wat also used to be a Hindu temple dedicated to Vishnu. Nowadays it is a Buddhist temple. It was built in the 12th century at, what was at that time, the capital of the Khmer (i.e., Cambodian) Empire.

Here you can see it in a larger perspective.

As in all popular touristic spots you need to be careful, otherwise people will literally walk on you! Queues are everywhere.

Even on the stairs!

But it is really worth to climb on this tower to see the buildings from the top.

Now let's walk a bit along the corridors.

They are decorated with many sculptures that are really well preserved.

Here you can get an idea of the length of these corridors.  And the incredible amount of work necessary to decorate them.

Look! A married couple! It seems that the site is popular not only amoung tourists. Though I have a feeling this dress is not really a traditional Khmer wedding outfit.

Just next to Angkor Wat lies Ta Prohm. It used to be a monastery and a university. Nowadays it is best known for being the place where the movie Tomb Raider with Angelina Jolie was shot.

Today it has unfortunately surrender to the powers of the Mother Earth. Or more particularly to the power of Tetrameles nudiflora

Even though some part of the buildings seem to still stand strong ...

... others have fallen down.

No surprise when you realise the walls need to bear some extra weight.

Here you can assess the height of the tree - compare it to the heigth of a human!

The green colour is onmipresent, even on the reliefs.

Let's leave Ta Prohm to its silent guards and move now to the old city of Angkor Thom. We're going to see more of these faces there.