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Showing posts from December, 2011

Happy New Year!

2012: May we receive it with an open mind, a generous heart, and a renewed sense of purpose. All the best.

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Merry Christmas

Wishing you peace and joy, dear readers, from my home to yours.
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Image by Charie Card by Photo2cards for IPAD

On the Wat Trail

Pre Rup
There are many temples in Siem Reap, each one unique and worth a visit.  Some temples are within a few minutes of the other so it makes good sense to view them on the same day. I saw Pre Rup from across a rice field on our way to Banteay Srei. This was such a pleasant surprise that I begged my guide and tuk tuk driver to let me explore the ruins. In this temple we can see the pyramid style of construction crowned by five lotus towers (in this photo you only see three).

Banteay Samré
Farther afield is Banteay Samré which is one of the least crowded temples we visited. There's a pleasant walk between tall trees leading up to the walled temple grounds. Unlike Banteay Srei where you can only walk around the perimeter of the temples, at Banteay Samré we could enter the central temple. It is bare now but once upon a time within this hallowed walls, only the high priests or Brahmin were allowed entry.

Phnom Krom
On our way back to Siem Reap from Tonlé Sap Lake, my tuk tuk driver to…

Wat Thmey

In what was once a killing field during the Pol Pot regime, there's a memorial to the people who were executed by the Khmer Rouge. It is believed that as many as two million people were killed and their remains left in one of many killing fields throughout Cambodia. Wat Thmey, a monastery with a large temple, is located on that killing field in Siem Reap and within its grounds is a collection of skulls found in the area. They say that after heavy rains, teeth and human bones rise to the surface and these would be gathered by locals and laid to rest in the glass fronted stupa within Wat Thmey.

Wat Thmey
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Images by Charie

Banteay Srei - The Citadel of the Women

Entrance to Banteay Srei
This is arguably the most beautiful temple in the Angkor complex. It is referred to as the Citadel of the Women and many would like to believe that this temple was built by women because of the intricate bas reliefs found in the walls and pediments throughout the temple. But in fact, this was built by a Brahmin and dedicated to Shiva. Her image is everywhere as the venerated Creator and Destroyer in the Hindu trinity.
Causeway leading to the inner sanctum
What's so appealing about this temple? Perhaps it's the intimate scale or the pink sandstone walls or the doors that lead to more doors behind which garudas sit in the sunshine. But at every corner you turn, there's something that will catch the eye. It could be a well preserved and artfully carved pediment or a delicate apsara or a column still standing since the 10th century. 

Banteay Srei is about 30 minutes away from the center of Siem Reap. It's a pleasant drive through green countryside wit…

The Floating Village of Chong Kneas

About 20 minutes away from Siem Reap is Tonlé Sap Lake where you can catch a boat to the floating village of Chong Kneas. During my visit in October, the water level of the lake was quite high. Monsoon rains had inundated many areas of Cambodia and Thailand. I saw houses under water along the road to Tonlé Sap and the surrounding rice fields were flooded making no distinction between land and lake. Cows lined the highway where they were safe from high waters. My tuk tuk driver deftly plunged into washed out roads or heavily potted ones like the one shown above. At one point we got stuck in a deep pothole but he thankfully got us out of it. I swayed in all directions inside the tuk tuk as we rode out of town. (It is not unusual to see red mud as it comes from red soil common in Siem Reap.)


From atop Phnom Krom, we had this view of the extent of the flood. The waters had risen to the roofs of houses.  
We made it to the dock without further ado and I boarded a boat to Chong Kneas. There …

The Faces of Bayon

Bayon was built in the late 12th or early 13th century by Jayavarman VII as a Mahayana Buddhist temple in the center of Angkor Thom, the capital of the Khmer empire. There are more than 200 facial sculptures on 37 surviving towers. Four faces are carved in each tower staring at four different directions. These faces are believed to be the bodhisatva of compassion, Avalokitesvara or Lokeshvara.

There are studies suggesting that the faces in the temple are similar to that of Jayavarman VII from existing statues of him. This is not far fetched in light of the traditional belief among Khmer rulers that they were devaraja (god-king), but unlike other rulers who practiced Hinduism, Jayavarman VII was a Buddhist and would have aligned himself with Buddha and the bodhisattva (enlightenment being).
Khmer army marching to battle
Bas reliefs cover the walls of  Bayon in exquisite detail. There are scenes of battles, celebrations after the battle, everyday life, the next life. It's a picture bo…