Friday, May 30, 2008

visiting cambodia episode IV: the historical and spiritual part of my journey

Last week when Suz C mentioned about Darwin's Evolution Theory, you know, the "survival of the fittest" theory, it occurred to me that what if in this superficial world, everyone only wants to be with good-looking people, then will all the ugly people eventually be extinct? And then this entire world will only be filled with good-looking people? Lol. Makes sense, doesn't it? So, we should be thankful that our generation now is much better-looking than our ancestors were back then

You cannot spend so much money on a trip to Cambodia and NOT visit the extremely famous (and commercialised) Ancient Angkor Ruins. Commercialised coz in case one do not know, you have to pay USD20 for entrance fee.
But yeah, it was worth it coz this place is extremely historical and awesome in terms of its architecture. I might just be saying that because I have a thing for hostorical architecture.
#1: Baekheng Hill - Phnom Baekheng

To reach this ruin, one have to hike up a small hill. Not good for me as of all the days, I chose that day to wear a skirt. Yes:(

But it was just a short hike, and before long, we reach the Phnom Baekheng. According to my guide book, it is the state temple of the first capital at Angkor.

The steps leading up to the top of the temple were extremely steep, as seen in the pic above. Many people practically had to crawl on all fours just to go up the steps. Now, the book did not mention it but I did read in an article of a travel magazine in our hotel, that the reason these steps were built so narrow were so when people actually reach the top of the steps, they are practically on all fours and kneeling, hence a sign of bowing down and respect.

Despite being slighty out of breath, the temple was amazing, with all those beautiful inscriptions. You can see my very happy face there. Lol.

The only downside was that there were so many tourists there that it was hard trying to get a good shot of me and my mom.

The one inscription very commonly found were the apsaras. Not exactly sure its origin yet. Currently reading Ancient Angkor still. Might edit this later kua.

#2: Bayon

Another place that many people would not missed out on is the Bayon, one of the largest temples here.

Our tour group

This is the very famous 7-headed naga. Naga means snake here

The reason everyone was queueing to take pic with this Buddha was because it was the one that had the biggest smile:)

A mass of 4-face Bayon Buddha towers here

Dancing apsaras on the walls

#3: Angkor Thom / Ta Prohmn

Another place that we went to is Angkor Thom, or Ta Prohmn. This is one of the filming sites for the "Tomb Raider" movie.

Lots of ruins here

These humongous gigantic trees are one of the highlights of this place. Seriously, have you seen roots like this before? Our guide calls them the silver gold bark trees (I think he literally translated them from Mandarin) because when the sun shines on the bark, it glitters like gold and silver.

I enjoy taking the inscriptions on the walls. Each is unique as they tell a story.

#4: Angkor Wat

Finally our last destination is the Angkor Wat. We save the best for the last. However, the last was also a rainy day. We had sunshine for so long that kinda disappointed that it rain on our parade when we came here.

But the temple still looks amazing despite the rain

The library + a horse

The moat that surrounded the Angkor Wat. I likey the reflection the temple made

The bas-reliefs, which I believed were used as public baths back then

More apsaras on the walls

I really do not know what story this one tells but I can tell you it really captivated me

The amazing inscription depicting the Battle of Kurukshethra, from the epic Mahabharata

It was a long but beautiful battle inscription

I took this pic to show the headless Buddha statues on the sides. The reason is that thieves used to steal all these heads and sold them in the black market to Western collectors. That is why most of the Buddha statues here are not the genuine ones because they have moved them to the museum to protect them from thieves

Actually the Angkor Ruins is a huge place. You can spend one whole day here, enjoying both the sunrise and sunset. We also visited Elephant Terrace and Leper King Terrace but didn't take any pics. As well as the Bayon Gate.

But after a while, it does get a little monotonous.

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