Wednesday, October 23, 2013

CH188: Siem Reap Part 2

Following up on the entry CH187: Siem Reap Part 1.

The second day of my temple tours included the famous Angkor Wat, the more famous Ta Prohm temple where Tomb Raider was shot and concluding it with the Bayon temple in the Angkor Thom complex.

Angkor Wat is the biggest temple complex of all in Siem Reap. It was so vast! Interestingly enough, there was a Buddhist ceremony on the day of my visit, so the temple at the center where you can go up was closed off. Angkor was a feat in itself to have to go around in. The sheer scale of the temple and how you can just get totally lost in it absorbing the culture, the history and the arts was immense. They even had corridors with walls engraved with stories - like one that I remember was the Ramayana story. The wall was engraved and had carved on it a depiction of the battle between Rama and the demon Ravana who abducted his wife Shita. One definitely needs to visit Siem Reap if it's Asian culture one is after. I would even dare say I'd recommend a visit to it to my parents before they go and attempt a visit to Beijing / China for the Great Wall.

Next up in our visit was Ta Prohm. The temple was really in ruins. I was told it was just built in 5 years time. A lot of the sandstone ceilings were already collapsed - mostly due to the Spung trees that grew from top going down to the ground that destabilized the overall structure. They dare not remove or even cut down the trees to ease the weight on the temples because well, for one, the tour guide said the tourists liked how the Spung trees littered all over the temples. To be honest, I liked this temple more because you really feel like you're in an adventure with the need to go traverse over some fallen rocks and be in the midst of ruins.

Last on the tour was Bayon temple. This temple was made in honor of Buddha, but because the successor to the kingdom was not keen on Buddha, he had a lot of the statues of Buddha removed and overall replaced the temple in honor of Vishnu, and he also had his face carved into some of temple spires.

Interesting facts:
1. The guide told me that it was intentional to make the stairs going up to be steep with the intent so people have to look up higher as they go up as if to say that one is ascending heaven.
2. I asked the guide why is it that the doorways, you have to go up and down and up again to go through the door. He told me that it was bad luck for one to just step over a door in the Khmer / Hindu culture, that is why it was intentional that going through a doorway was more arduous than necessary.
3. Most of the temples were dedicated to either Shiva or Vishnu. I asked how come that was the case when there is also Brahma the third God and I was told that it was because Brahma was just the creator and had no direct influence on the lives of the people so it was unnecessary or not a big deal to make a temple out of him.
4. Priests of temples stored treasures and amulets under the linga within the uni to serve as a means to make it holy. They typically pour water over it to convert it to holy water.
5. Some of the materials used in Bayon temples or the newer temples were taken from other older temples. This was because there was a shortage in sandstones that were pretty much extensively used in the older temples.

I'm quacking here now. I think the pictures would serve the intent better to show the place. There's Wikipedia anyway for all the facts and information ;)

Got a coffee fix from Vietnam. Their coffee is really flavorful and I like it.


  1. Saw a docu about this place. Aliw sa mga temples

    1. you've been to bangkok, you should definitely go to Siem Reap :)

  2. I really miss those temples, especially Ta Prohm. :3

    1. you like ta prohm the best? there is an ongoing restoration which i heard should finish by 2015 haha hopefully a lot of its previous glory can be restored

    2. Yeah. When I went there September last year, the restoration is already ongoing. I plan to return there when it's done. :)