Thursday, January 28, 2016

Thursday, January 28, 2016

We'll always have angkor

Posted by Hippo Bean at 11:00 PM
said Vincent.

Waking up at 4:30 to be at the temple by 5 to watch the sunrise aint my idea of my first introduction to Angkor Wat. I much rather view the full glory of the angkorian temple in broad day light. But instead, we walked through the west entrance in pitch dark, stumbling up and down the stairs of the main gate and almost fell into the moat. We sat on a spot that offered unobstructed view of the 5 towers and waited and waited for the sun to rise. The place was crowded with tourists already. Slowly but surely the sun appeared, a brilliant giant red circle, slightly to the right behind the towers. I thought the view should be from the east where we could see the sun rays hitting and reflecting from the towers, and not from the west where the towers would be silhouetted by the rising fireball. So as a consequence, the towers appeared dark against the shinny sun. Sunrise aint my thing so I've regretted having to lose sleep and missing the opportunity to walk into the temple compound from the sandstone causeway on the western gate and taking a picture from this viewpoint with the temple at dead center, like in the postcards. But others said they've loved the sunrise. Next a mad dash to the pools to see the sun and temple reflections on the water. Mad dash to be there ahead of the horde of the korean tourists. Again the reflections were beautiful but not spectacular and the amount of tourists that crowded the area made the view almost not worth while. But the temple itself blew me away. The first level of the pyramid temple with the quincunx of towers was an enclosure of bas-relief walls telling mythological and King Suryavarman II stories. Immediately upon the main entrance to the temple main temple, 4 identical square courtyards, used for offerings and prayers. The central structure of the pyramid surrounded the inner sanctuary where the 5 quincunx of towers stood since the 12th century. We've waited for over half an hour in line to go up one of the towers and the wait for worth every nanosecond. The view from the tower was spectacular. I've never seen anything so astonishingly magnificent, and while standing inside it, I've imagined how it would look like before it had succumbed to ruins, reclaimed by the jungle. Amazing what kind of structure a human could construct! Whoops, forgot to bring Small Tigger. He'd extremely mad at me! Doh!

Before all the awe subsided, the breathtaking south gate of angkor thom stole my view. the bridge to the gate was lined by 54 guardian gods (deva) on one side pulling the head of the serpent 'shesha', and 54 demon gods (asura) on the other side, pulling the tail of the serpent, sorta like in a tug of war. the rows of guardians and demons ended at a multi-headed cobra 'naga'. The gate to the city had the image of Avalokiteśvara on the towers on each of the 4 sides. After seeing the quincunx of towers at Angkor Wat, this was the second most magnificent sight.

As if the gate to the city wasnt impressive enough, the giant stone faces of Bodhisattva at the Bayon surely got the Hippo speechless. Every tower had a face on all 4 sides. everywhere you look, you see a face. some stern, some smiling. and the popular thing to do was to photograph your nose touching the nose of a face. What was interesting about this temple was the bas-reliefs depicting scenes of ordinary people in their every day life among battle scenes, market, chess games and child birth. Hm. Small Tigger took many photos with the giant faces. A little happier now, but still angry at me.

I would say, aside from Angkor Wat, the Bayon was my fav temple, just because she likes the giant faces! :-)


Last came the Terrace of the Elephants in the city royal square, a 300 meter long wall adorned with carved elephants and garudas. It's used for viewing stand for public ceremonies and king audience hall. It ended at the terrace of the Leper king. The sides of the terrace had carving of elephant trunks dipped in or holding lotus leafs. Not liking elephants, nevertheless I've enjoyed the terrace as it offered nice views of the jungle.

We returned to Angkor Wat to admire it during sunset. While sipping coconut juice straight from the fruit, with the sun hitting the temple stone structures, the entire complex was reflected on the moat in front. Nice relaxing way to round up the day and say farewell to angkor wat. The Hippo would not forget this site.

My desire to see the Angkor city has been fulfilled and it wasnt any bit disappointed. This was of course the highlight and the only reason for making the trip to SouthEast Asia and it was worth the hassle of deets, Malaron, heat and long sleeve shirts and pants.

But tomorrow promised more wonders as we'd cover more temples in the area. After dinner, ventured out one more time to the Night Market for more purchases of cheap goods. Slept quite content that night in my presidential suite at the Cheathata hotel.

Angkor Temples photos:


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