Reaping culture: Temples of Siem Reap

You haven't been to Cambodia if you haven't seen the majestic temples. And touring temples, we did! Before you get started on your temple tour you have to get a temple pass to get around the temples. International law na ang "No Id, No Entry".
 my one day temple pass and the book Angkor Sketches of an ancient city by Gregory Byrne Bracken
 One day is not enough to see all the temples. There are about 15 temples around this area of Siem Reap and more or less 31 temples you can visit with the temple pass depending on the weather conditions and if the temple is not getting a face lift. You can opt to get a temple pass good for a day, three, or seven days. If you are up for the challenge backpackers prefer to tour temples by bicycle. Alternatively you can go via TukTuk for $15 for the whole day. You are lucky if your Tuk Tuk driver can annotate your trip, instant tour guide! Don't forget to give a healthy tip while your at it ;D

Angkor Wat

 Angkor Wat Central Shrine

The Naga is a seven headed cobra deity that sheltered Buddha during his meditation. According to folk tale, the Cambodians are born from the Naga and Kaundinya. The seven heads of the Naga is said to symbolize the 7 colors of the rainbow. 
This is the first character you will meet upon entering Angkor Wat. You can spot them them on railings ends but most of them have already broken off over time. This one is a restored image of the Naga.

What sets Angkor Wat from the rest of the temples is that it is the only temple facing the West where the sun sets suggesting that it is a temple for death.

Some parts of the temple is undergoing restoration at the moment, most likely because its not peak season for tourists.

The stairway to the central shrine was originally designed to be steep signifying that the way to heaven is a difficult climb. But for the sake of the tourists they have installed a wooden staircase going to the central temple to ease traffic of tourists upon climbing. Now lets get physical.
 the real stairway to heaven
outside the Angkor Library
 Angkor Wat Causeway in Fish Eye view from the Central Shrine
Devas at the South Gate. Major in history and welcoming committee mo rito, oh Deva!
The South gate to Angkor Thom the only temple entrance which has been renovated. The heads of the Deva (gods) and Asura (demon) statues guarding the entrances on its left and right sides in the West, North, and East entrances are mostly damaged if not missing due to looting and of age. So be weary if someone sell you a stone head of a Cambodian gate guardian, it might be from here.

Angkor Thom
From the South entrance you will see this moat, which is wider than the moat surrounding Angkor Wat. Then I discovered that Siem Reap has Carabaos, +1 point for similarity
Within the Angkor Thom complex (enclosed in the moat and walls) are the Bayon and Ta Phrom temples.

Bayon
This is the second temple we entered. Upon entering the temple one would feel a regal enchantment by just standing by its entrance. The mood is different compared to Angkor Wat. The temple is still used for Buddhist worship. Some locals still come to light incense.
(L) Smiling images makes me happy and lessens the eerie feeling. (R) stare contest with one of the images, I lost.

East entrance to Angkor Thom.
 Behave yourself, the gods are watching. 
I was able to take this shot because we were riding on a flat tire. There was a nail on the road it probably fell of from one of the tuk tuks moving construction materials at Angkor Thom. While we were waiting for the tire to get changed this ice drop vendor was on his way to the "small circuit".
While the rest had Durian, I had a taro flavored one which was last of the Mohicans. It is packaged differently from the ice pops we have. Here it is wrapped in a clear plastic as you can see in the picture above held by Tita Grace.
The verdict on Khmer ice pop, tastes legit.
Then the mamang sorbetero taught me how to say Thank you in Khmer. It spelled differently but for pronunciation's sake it is "Aukuwn".
the way to Ta Prohm temple from the East entrance of Angkor Thom 
Ta Phrom temple
Popular known as the Tomb Raider shooting site.
It is the only temple left in ruins so that people can have an idea of how the rest of the temples looked like when it was rediscovered from abandonment. If you keep still any where inside the temples (except Angkot Wat) you'll get that feeling that you are being watched. I wonder what its like for the tourist police who doubles as a safety officer inside the temples who stay there till before sun down.
Mother nature knows best
One of the popular images of Siem Reap temples is this. The tree naturally grew around this image.
Then I saw this little guy on the way out of Ta Phrom. A great reminder that all these temples were built in the middle of a jungle.
Its also on this temple where you would find many Banyan trees growing over structures.
A Banyan tree growing on top of a stone floor

I swear those trees have a life of its own. Pawning temple structures, like a boss.
There you have it, a quick primer to getting around temples in Siem Reap Cambodia
Marz Ren at the reflecting pool in front of the Angkor Wat Temple. It's murky because of the rainy season.

1 comment:

Manny said...

nice quick primer. makes me more excited to visit the place next month. can't wait for your other articles. thanks for sharing.