Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade–Angkor Wat Day 2

16 Apr

Time to tackle Angkor Wat on my own. So I commandeer a creaky bicycle and set off. (A three day ticket costs $40, and a tuk tuk will cost between $15 and $20 per day – so it can get quite expensive quite quickly – so with my own wheels I’ saving money, getting some exercise, and I am free to go where I want.)

Let's Go... (1)

It’s busy- but not as busy as it could be. Starting at the main complex, and fighting off the people who want to sell me water (or beers) I cross the moat and into the main temple. The temple is the largest religious structure in the world, and the hear and sould of the Cambodian nation. Originally built dedicated to Vishnu by king Suryavarman in around 1120 AD (around the same time as Notre Dame) but has been rededicated to state Theradava Buddhism.

Angkor Wat (10)Angkor Wat (14)Angkor Wat (18)Angkor Wat (27)

Across the moat and into the main temple area – the temple is based on the Hindu spiritual universe with Mount Meru at the centre, surrounded by continents (the courtyards) and oceans (the moat). I wander round incredible friezes telling stories from Hindu history, insights into Heaven and Hell, and more.

Angkor Wat (19)Angkor Wat (22)

The main tower, the Bakan, can be climbed (like most Asian temples, it has very steep and scary steps) – but I have to remove my hat in honour of the Buddha.

Angkor Wat (43)Angkor Wat (46)Angkor Wat (49)Angkor Wat (34)Angkor Wat (37)Angkor Wat (40)

Honestly, I am stufffing pictures in here to give you an idea… but it seems futile already – it’s impossible to convey its immensity and majesty in a few pictures.

I take a walk round the temple grounds and head off on foot to my next destination – but get ridiculously lost (Angkor Wat is square, so working out which direction you are facing is tricky. Perhaps getting the bike would be a good idea (and I am very glad of that!)

So, into the city of Angkor Thom. The city itself was built by Jayavarman VII and he’s not let us forget it. Although the faces on the towers at each of the four entrances to the city are of Avolikitetshra, the Boddhisattva (enlightened being) of Compassion – the faces look remarkably like the king. The bridges into the city have 54 gods on one side and 54 demons on the other, in a scene from the story of the Churning of the Sea of Milk – holding the serpent Vasuki in a gargantuan tug of war.

East Gate, maybe (3)South Gate, Angkor Thom (2)

The city is full of amazing treasures (although the gates themselves are pretty stupendous). The heart of the city is the Bayon, where the king’s face puts in another appearance (actually, 216 more appearances) on the towers of the temple. It’s a wonderful place to explore, and I spend ages trying to capture different photographs of the faces!

Bayon (3)Bayon (17)Bayon (39)Bayon (42)Bayon (44)Bayon (51)

Again, it’s impossible – until you see this for real, it’s impossible to describe

The Baphuon pyramid is a colossal structure sadly in need of restoration – the records of how to put it together were destroyed by the Khmer Rouge and have left Cambodia with the world’s largest 3D puzzle – think ‘Lego’ without the instructions. (PS for my American readers. It’s ‘Lego’. The pieces are ‘Lego bricks’. Not ‘Legos’. For heaven’s sake). Sorry, where was I?

Baphuon (4)Baphuon (5)

Oh yes – bricks litter the landscape, with little chance of it every getting rebuilt as it should be. But efforts continue. It’s closed to visitors, but it’s possible to see a 60m long reclining Buddha carved into the stones on one face of the temple.

Baphuon (6)

And there’s more. The Terrace of Elephants is a wonderfully decorated viewing stand. The Terrace of the Leper King is another huge terrace which might (or might not) have a leprous king’s statue at the top.

Terrace of Elephants (1)Temple of the Leper king (1)Temple of the Leper king (3)

And I’m exhausted. Time for some food and a little rest before carrying on.

I cycle off to Preah Khan, a wonderfully huge complex of corridors. In the middle I discover a cheeky nun, who ties a wristband on me grabs hold of my face in her hands, blesses me and then apparently throws something away from my body. I’ve experienced this before in healing work – but it’s weird when it happens to me. But I feel strangely peaceful and grave – almost as if she’s taken fear and thrown it away. Will have to think about that, but it’s quite an odd experience. She’s lovely, and old, and seems to be at that point in life where she can just look back and laugh (in some of the work I do this is the jester archetype – I might tell you some more about that some time – perhaps for the next month’s product release). I just want to sit near her and enjoy the energy and childlike happiness she’s giving off.

Preah Khan (4)Preah Khan (9)Preah Khan (10)

And then, saddle sore and weary, I toddle off to Phnom Bakheng for sunset. Every one else has the same idea, it seems, and there are so many people it’s difficult to find a spot. There are a couple of camera shy monks, lots of Khmer, courting couples and tourists a plenty. It’s a shame that the sunset is a bit of a letdown, and we get ushered off the hill before dark.

And into town. Time for dinner, and collapse….the market has New Year decorations for sale and you can see them making them in the street..

Siem Reap market (1)Siem Reap market (3)Siem Reap Market (4)

Everywhere has these pointed star decorations, some with lights – they get delivered by motorbike or tuk tuk all round town.

More tomorrow . . .

For those of you who haven’t picked up their copy of ‘The Cube’ yet, or who would like to help out on my journey -  see what all the fun is by checking out this post:

http://www.exploretheadventure.com/2011/04/12/the-cube/

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One Response to “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade–Angkor Wat Day 2”

  1. Chelsea Hoffman April 16, 2011 at 3:36 pm #

    After seeing all of the temples, wasn’t it amazing that the women’s temple was in such great shape? I love the blog a pics, I hope my family is reading, because you are posting so much more than us. Have fun in Cambodia!

    xoxo

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