Monday, May 12, 2008

Ruins

My 2nd day in Cambodia started after the alarm screamed at me at 0600H. I took a shower, went down and had my breakfast. The Apsara Angkor Hotel did not disappoint as it had different breakfast styles. Burp! Here's the recap of the 1st day!

At 0800H, our bus moved and headed to Baentay Srei. I made sure that my camera had its proper settings.


Bantaey Srei was dedicated to Shva, the Hindu goddess of destruction. Through murals carved withing its walls, the temple describes stories of arguments between the gods and other legends of Hindu religion and culture. If that isn't signifigant enough for a piece of the temple, I don't know what is. Now if you ask someone about historical events in their lives, you're in for a long and boring story that almost always starts with, "Back in my day..." But let's say you asked the rock. Its day was actually from the 9th to 13th century, the rise and fall of the Khmer empire. That's farther back than your grandparents' day. Bantaey Srei was actually built in 976 AD. When the rock was still part of the temple, King Rajendravarman ruled Angkor. The builders of it carved murals representing past events in Angkor and stories about Hindu gods. By the time the rock finished, you would realize that some hisorical events are much more interesting than your grandparents' speeches.



The temple ground area is small but the intricate designs were appealing. If you open your eyes wider, you can see carvings that tell a story. Each carving is well-detailed that you can only wonder how it was done, many centuries ago. Every pillar is guarded by a Thai woman, I guess its just appropriate as this temple was once a fortress for women. We stayed until 1000H and went to Ta Phrom immediately.

Ta Phrom is pretty interesting, it has a cinematographic feel and no doubt, its very popular to tourists.



Located approximately one kilometre east of Angkor Thom and on the southern edge of the East Baray near Tonle Bati, it was founded by the Khmer King Jayavarman VII as a Mahayana Buddhist monastery and university. Unlike most Angkorian temples, Ta Prohm has been left in much the same condition in which it was found: the photogenic and atmospheric combination of trees growing out of the ruins and the jungle surroundings have made it one of Angkor's most popular temples with visitors.



As much as I want to take photos of place like it is an abandoned one, I just can’t since every corner had a foreigner posing and snapping. LOL! I have to be satisfied with every shot I made. That’s the price one should pay while joining travel tours during holidays. The ruins there were mystical and don’t have eerie-like atmospheres. I can’t speak much about the history as the guide spoke in Thai language.

Its 1230H, and instead of having our lunch, we decided to proceed to Angkor Thom and Bayon.



The Bayon is a well-known and richly decorated Khmer temple at Angkor in Cambodia. Built in the late 12th century or early 13th century as the official state temple of the Mahayan Buddhist King Jayavarman VII, the Bayon stands at the centre of Jayavarman's capital, Angkor Thom. Following Jayavarman's death, it was modified and augmented by later Hindu and Theravada Buddhist kings in accordance with their own religious preferences.


Before entering the temple, we had to pose for the tour’s souvenir photo. LOL! At a distant, the faces assembled by stones and rocks are very visible and there are lots of them. Forgive my knowledge when it comes to History as I almost fail in this subject before. Earlier the weather was hot as hell and then later, it rained without any warning. And I had to protect my camera. I looked for a covered area and stayed there for a couple of minutes. My friend fetched me and he had an umbrella. So the photo session continued. Haha!

At 1400H, its finally lunch time. We ate quickly as we can and went to Angkor Wat, the highlight of the tour.


Angkor Wat is a temple at Angkor, Cambodia, built for King Suryavarman II in the early 12th century as his state temple and capital city. As the best-preserved temple at the site, it is the only one to have remained a significant religious centre since its foundation—first Hindu, dedicated to Vishnu, then Buddhist. The temple is the epitome of the high classical style of Khmer architecture. It has become a symbol of Cambodia, appearing on its national flag, and it is the country's prime attraction for visitors.



Oh I remember seeing this place on a postcard. Now, here I am taking photos of it. I am fascinated by monks too and I promised myself to take photos of them. I asked them to pose for me. LOL! Angkor Wat is huge, and I guess we weren’t able to wander around it. But its all good, otherwise, our legs have fallen.

We went to Psa Ja Market and was surprised that the vendor is charging everything in dollars or baht instead of riel. I bought lots of shirts and bags, just in time for my demobilization. The items are overpriced of course, its how you deal with the vendors to get a discount. Big discounts!

Its dinner time again, buffet style, but this time with traditional Apsara dance. Too bad I couldn’t take one good photos of the dancers, I’m too shy to use the flash of my camera.

We went back to the hotel, took a quick rest, hit the shower and explored the city. There are different bars in one street, the area reminded me of Khao San Road in Bangkok. We stayed there until 0030H only.

The next morning, we prepare ourselves to go to The Killing Fields.

The Killing Fields were a number of sites in Cambodia where large numbers of people were killed and buried by the Communist Khmer Rouge regime, during its rule of the country from 1975 to 1979. Estimates of the number of dead (execution, disease and starvation together) range from 1.4 to 2.2 million out of a population of around 7 million. In 1979 Communist Vietnam invaded the country, which at that time was officially called Democratic Kampuchea, and toppled the Khmer Rouge regime.


Actually, I had a different picture on my mind and was a bit surprised after I saw a temple now. I can still remember some parts of the movie as I watched it when I was in second grade. Seeing the bones of the victims was heartbreaking. There were posters about how these victims suffered. This was our last stop then we headed home.

All in all I took 1079 photos, and I randomly picked 50 photos to be included on the slide show. LOL!





I am satisfied by the way the bondstreettour handled the tour, well except for the last lunch. LOL! And of course I am very thankful to P’Gang, P’ G, Nong Hinghoi and Nung Noom for inviting me. I won’t forget this tour of course. Sawaddee Krub!

Next trip is in Bali, right? LOL!

totomai
05/12/08

9 comments:

  1. Totomai,

    What make asian countries interesting are our rich history, diverse culture, and our people. There is a mystic beauty in our lands not comparable to the refined, trimmed, and modern cities here in America and Europe.

    I think these draw many tourists from this side of the planet to asia.

    I wish you well.

    ~ Jeques

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  2. Hi Jeques, yes I guess you are right. There's a lot to explore and discover in Asia. Its a beautiful country coupled with history and traditions.

    Thanks

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  3. I've been across the border to cambodia once or twice - never really visited the country. This makes me want to go for a proper visit

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  4. @Stan, you should explore the country! spend a day or two there.

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  5. Your posts are always well detailed and so very interesting. I look forward to them

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  6. @jadey, thanks. its my pleasure to share my experiences / travels to all

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  7. Oh my God. I've always wanted to go to Cambodia. :) Your pictures reinforced my desires, hehehe. Nice blog, thanks for sharing the experience with us. :)

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  8. @estelle, you should go and visit cambodia, the country is rich with history and tradition :-)

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  9. Great photos. Must have been harrowing to see those Killing Fields.

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any thoughts to distill?

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