Southeast Asia with Peter – Day 16
Angkor Wat or Angkor Temple is the famous tourist site in Cambodia. It was originally built as a Hindu temple but later served the Buddhist religion. Angkor Wat was built as the state temple, dedicated to the Hindu god Vishnu.
The size, scope, and the architectural and sculptural details are too numerous for this website so I’ll refer you to the Cambodian Tourist website http://www.tourismcambodia.com/attractions/angkor/angkor-wat.htm for all the details.
However, within the outer walls are more than 200 acres of land.
Here is a selection of the pics I took: You cross the moat on a wide stone causeway to reach the outer wall, which itself is over 18,000 feet long. Once you pass through the main gate in this wall, another causeway over 1200 feet long, leads pass two Libraries, two pools, and our first look at the actual Temple: This is the main temple at Angkor Wat. It is the Cambodian National symbol. It is on their flag and currency. The temple complex stands on a raised field and it is made up of a three galleries, each one higher than the last one. The initial design and construction of the temple took place in the first half of the 12th century. One of the first Western visitors to the temple was a Portuguese monk who visited in 1586 and said that it “is of such extraordinary construction that it is not possible to describe it with a pen, particularly since it is like no other building in the world. It has towers and decoration and all the refinements which the human genius can conceive of.”
Angkor Wat required considerable restoration in the 20th century, mainly the removal of accumulated earth and vegetation. Work was interrupted by the civil war and Khmer Rouge control of the country during the 1970s and 1980s, but relatively little damage was done during this period other than the theft and destruction of mostly post-Angkorian statues.
Angkor Wat is a unique combination of the temple mountain, the standard design for the empire’s state temples and the later plan of concentric galleries. The temple is a representation of Mount Meru, the mythical home of the Hindu gods: the central towers symbolizes the five peaks of the mountain, and the walls and moat the surrounding mountain ranges and ocean. Access to the upper areas of the temple was progressively more exclusive, with the laity being admitted only to the lowest level.
I mentioned earlier that the temple had a red laterite inner structure and a white sand stone outer shell. Here is an exposed corner showing that. The binding agent used to join the blocks is yet to be identified, although natural resins or slaked lime have been suggested.
In the lower in the southwest gallery there were fantastic bas-relief carvings of scenes from the Battle of Kurukshetra, from the Hindu epic the Mahabharata. The scene depicts the mutual annihilation of the Kaurava and the Pandava clans, as they meet in battle over the throne of Hastinapura. Sounds like Gettysburg…
A 50-yard long bas-relief in the southeastern gallery, the Churning Sea of Milk represents a standard Vishnu myth. The scene depicts gods and demons pulling in a rhythmic tug-of-war on a great serpent (Naga?), under the direction of the god Vishnu. Vishnu is in the center of the depiction, hovering above his avatar in this particular story, the turtle Kurma. As the serpent is wound about a great mountain in a sea of milk, the tugging causes the mountain to turn and the sea to churn. The churning produces an elixir of immortality, over which the gods and demons are in dispute. I couldn’t photograph the details so I grabbed this picture off the internet.
That’s enough of carvings, you get the idea. We left the Wat through the East gate and walked around the outside to the front. Here is the South gate. Note the colonnaded gallery. These are where the bas-relief carvings are located.
Nearby there were some monks driving a “koo yon”. It’s a strange type of farm tractor. It’s got an engine on the front that looks like a roto-tiller with wheels pulling a hay wagon. I saw them on the back roads we traveled, but never go a picture until this last day.
We also saw a sugar palm being “tapped”. Note the bamboo buckets and the skinny bamboo ladder. Those cigar-looking things are what’s tapped.
We sat on the wall next to the Canal and had a toast with this brandy called “Wrestler”. It distinguishes itself from the rest of the Cambodian muscle man brandies (“Hercules” and “Great Strength”. Not to be outdone, “Weightlifter” has a female body builder on its bottle) by printing it contains “real red grape extract” on the label next to its body builder. It was kind of nasty!
We also enjoyed snacks of barbecued frogs legs, cobra and water buffalo jerky, sticky rice, and peanuts. “It don’t get no better’n that!”.
That’s it for Angkor Wat. A beautiful and imperssive place. This is definitely one of the world’s great UNESCO sites.
We returned to Siem Reap for another OAT “dinner-on-your-own”. Abunch of us took Tuk Tuks to the night market. The women went one way nad Pete, will, and I went another,
We wandered around for a while and chatted with the massage ladies offering their services. Many advertised “happy endings”. Pete and Will settled for a fish massage.
What, you may wonder, is a fish massage? in a couple of street side joints on Pub Street there were fish tanks. You take off your shoes and socks and put your feet in the water. Hundreds of little fish swarm all over your feet nibbling off the dead (?) skin. Will enjoyed it, Pete couldn’t do it because it tickled too much. I skipped it because I experienced foot nibbling at the Kwang Si waterfalls and a nice pedicure in in Laos.
The Red Piano’s claim to fame was having Angelina Jolie initiate the “Tomb Raiders” cocktail on her filming visit in 2000. We didn’t have one. Pete and I had a beer. Will had a “Long Islander” (with ice). His stomach was a little queasy the next day. Stay away from ice in foreign countries. You don’t know where the water came from!
After all that excitment, we went back to the hotel, ended Day 16 and went to bed.
Southeast Asia with Peter – Day 17
Today we leave Cambodia and return to Bangkok. Before we left Siem Reap, we stopped at the Angkor Artisans workshop. This was a combination handicraft school, museum, and retail store. Local people are trained to produce local artwork. This can lead to income producing jobs for them. Here are a few of their products:
A sandstone Ganesha. Although he is known by many attributes, Ganesha’s elephant head makes him easy to identify. Ganesha is widely revered as the remover of obstacles, the patron of arts and sciences and the deva of intellect and wisdom. As the god of beginnings, he is honoured at the start of rituals and ceremonies. Ganesha is also invoked as patron of letters and learning during writing sessions.
They do tin work. This tin hammering is later plated with silver and made into jewelry and trinkets. I bought a little pill box for Mary Ann. Peter bought one, too, as a Christmas present (containing a the surprise(?) sapphire ring for his wife Margo).
That’s it. We’re outta here! We returned to the Pantip Suites Bangkok in late afternoon. and got ready for our farewell river dinner cruise
Ole hailed down our ship. It was a rice barge converted into a cruise boat.
One Final pic of Fred and I on the dinner cruise. I still have my travel vest on!
That’s it. We had an early evening because many of us had early morning flights back to the US: Pete and I wer up at 1 AM and on the van to the airport with Ole at 2:30 AM and on our plane at 5 AM. After 26 hours of traveling, I was home in Florida at 8:30 PM Florida time.
I was pooped when I got home. It took a week to get over the Jet lag and the 12 hour time difference. Was it worth it? YOU BET!!!