Oct 14, 2014

Siem Reap : Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom/ Bayon, Bateay Kdei, Ta Prohm and other temples (photos)

Woke up about 4am. this was my first time sleeping in a back packers hostel and it was pitch dark. Dang. I should have brought a torchlight. Note to self: pack a torchlight next time if am going to sleep in a mixed dorm. It was kind of interesting sleeping in a mix dorm with girls and guys from all over the world. The girl above my bed and next to me were both Brits, and the guy on the other side of my bed was American.

Despite there being so many people in one room, I felt safe and also it was pretty quiet as everyone in this room knew how to respect their fellow travellers' privacy and peace...

I fumbled my way to the bathroom and took a shower. Then got ready and went downstairs and to my surprise Safy was already waiting there. 

 He then sent me to Angkor Wat just in time for me to appreciate the views of the majestic Angkor Wat bathed in the glorious lights of dawn... If you are heading to Angkor, do not miss Angkor at dawn...it is truly a breathtaking experience. 

I manage to take a picture myself of the gorgeous Angkor Wat at dawn and with reflection too!!! There was naturally a huge crowd all at the pond or moat there waiting to take a picture of the majestic temple with it's reflection. If you are there at Angkor Wat, you cannot miss it as it is on your left as you walk towards the main building.

Angkor Wat was built by the vanished Khmer empire. It was 
constructed king Suryavarman II's time, when he ruled back in
1113 to at least 1145. Back then, Khmer Empire had to maintain a 
state temple at the heart of the city.

When Suryavarman got into power, the existing Baphuon state 
temple was dedicated to Shiva. Suryavarman worshiped Vishnu, 
and decided to honor him with a new temple south of the existing
 capital. This was then said to be Angkor Wat, meaning "The city 
that is a temple."

Unlike other Khmer temples, the entrance faces west in the 
direction associated with Vishnu. All visitors who enters Angkor 
Wat will do so from an entrance causeway that takes him across 
the 200 meter wide moat to the entrance pavilion  measuring 230 
meters north-south. This include three passages that elephants 
could enter for royal processions. 

Past the entrance gate is a long causeway that runs for over 300 
meters, decorated with mythical snake-like animals called naga
On either side are isolated buildings said to be"libraries"... 

Near the temple are supposedly two small pools built in the 16th 
century, but only one remain ...

The main temple is on a sandstone plinth a meter above the 
ground decorated with naga balustrades. 

Sadly I did not manage to go into the main building as it was under renovation or I somehow missed out on something... as I saw a "Do not enter" sign...

I enjoyed the scenery and the people. You can find Cambodians drawing and plying their art for sale, and even(below) a cute puppy running alongside its owner for a morning exercise at the walkway to the main temple....

..... and erm... even a tranny aka bapok aka lady boy(below) and his boyfriend...

That was quite an achievement.. He he he, one cross off the bucket list... 

Then after Angkor Wat, it was a much awaited trip to Angkor Thom aka the Bayon.. I swear no trip to Angkor Wat will be complete without a trip to Bayon or Angkor Thom, it is definitely my favorite place and to quote Pavarotti "I cried when I saw how beautiful it is "(he was referring to Pangkor Laut..., but I am referring to Bayon) 

I swear, it is really breathtaking majestic... even in partial ruins...I can just imagine how glorious it was back then ...

Here are some sunrise pictures to share....Breathtaking right? If you get to see the actual scenery it is even more amazing.... so hey, if you are heading to Angkor Wat, there is no time to sleep in or wake up late.. wake up early and see the place at dawn... you will definitely NOT regret it.....And the side , you can find figures of asuras (demons) lined up.  Both rows were holding a naga (serpent) and looking as if they were engaged in a tug of war. Although Angkor Thom is a Buddhist city, it is said that this scene depicts the Hindu mythology of the Churning of the Ocean of Milk

The main gateway.....(below)

See the majestic Bayon, it is sooooo breathtakingly amazing.... I am so humbled to be here... It feels like stepping back into the ancient Khmer empire again...

For more about ancient Khmer, check these sites out:-

Angkor Thom was designed and created as a square, the sides of which run exactly north to south and east to west. Standing in the exact center of the walled city, Bayon Temple supposedly  represents the where the heaven and earth meets...
Bayon is best known for its huge stone faces of the bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara , the universal God of Compassion, with one facing outward and keeping watch at each of the four compass points. You can see a smiling image, many people thinks to be a portrait of Jayavarman himself, has been dubbed by some the "Mona Lisa of Southeast Asia." 

Ok... while visiting these gorgeous temples,there are locals who will offer to be your tour guides. Be wary of these guys. They can be very charming, coming up to you and offering to bring you here and there and be your guide, tell you the story of the temple and the history. Unless you are willing to fork out some USD , just tell them firmly you are ok alone. Or make sure you give them just a few dollars.. USD2-3 is pretty fair for a few minutes "tour" and companionship. 

They will probably tell you some sob story and ask for more, so it is entirely up to you if you want to give them more BUT.... remember you will be visiting several temples... and the little bit adds up to pretty much...

Gorgeous details and sheer magnificence... I just somehow wonder how people lived here though... the quarters are small and the stairs are pretty steep....

Yet another cross off the bucket list..yeee haa!! After the Bayon, I walked pass the Terrace of the Elephants.

And Safy sent me to Preah Khan temple. Preah Khan temple is just as amazing with lots to see .... More walking and yet another tour guide... but it is worth it having a "tour guide" in Bayon and Preah Khan as they bring you to amazing places you never would have wandered to.. as well as be your photographer...

Preah Khan was built in 1191 during the reign of King Jayavarman 

VII. He was a warrior king celebrated for reconstructing the 

Khmer Empire after a period of fragmentation.

 Preah Khan was the scene of the most important battle of Khmer against Cham, when the king of Cham was killed.

And once you have walked through it, you will realise it is not simply just a temple, but a also city...
Preah Khan is rectangular in shape and held 138 acres.  The boundaries were surrounded a protective moat and also walls which were decorated with carved stone garudas. The temple complex had a variety of different kind of entries, towers and places.  

The central temple at Preah Khan included an image of 
the Boddhisattva Lokeshrvara, created to resemble the King's 

There area about 282 sub-deities around the main statue, including 
Khmer heroes and deceased officials. There was even a statue of 
the usurper-king in front of the temple. Though this seems odd, the
 Khmers believed that all past kings, even usurpers, guarded the 
country after death.

I had a problem here at Preah  Khan as I got kind of lost and came out of the wrong side of the temple. That is how BIG it was...

It did cause me a moment of panic, not seeing my driver around, and when I asked around..and then I had to retrace my steps back again..That was good exercise.... NOT

My next stop was at Ta Prohm. Ta Prohm was also built during the reign of Jayavarman VII.  Ta Prohm was the centerpiece of his 

master plan, located roughly in the center of the capital. 

Though the temple is slightly smaller then the others  at about 2.5 

acres, its walls and moat encompass 148 acres, which would have 

sheltered a town attached to the temple. According to a stele found 

here on site, 12,640 people were said to have lived at the temple, 

supported by a population of  almost 80k who worked in nearby 

villages to provide food and supplies. Back in that era, the temple 

was said to be known as Rajavihara, the 'Royal Monastery'.

However I must admit I am a little confused as to how people lived 

around here as despite being as majestic and huge the complex is,

 all these temples are very narrow and the living spaces seem 

small.... Unless people back then were pretty tiny ... but then again, 

the steps are pretty steep as well...sighhh....

Ta Prohm housed the deity Prajnaparamita, the 'perfection of 
wisdom.' It was consecrated in 1186. Where Preah Khan's diety 
was made to resemble Jayavarman VII's father, this diety here was 
carved in the likeness of his mother.

Ta Prohm is famous as it was featured in Tomb Raider and it is amazing with century old gigantic tree roots all over the place.....

And then Safy sent me to Banteay Kdei... By the time I reached Banteay Kdei.. My legs were really like jelly and I was going through it halfheartedly... Though it was also very breathtaking.. 

Banteay Kdei's construction work was said to be hastily and shabbily done, and not as precise as at the Angkor Wat. Inaccuracy and crumbling led to much of the deterioration visible today.

Jayavarman VII was said to dedicate Banteay Kdei to his teacher. One meaning of the name "Banteay Kdei" (citadel of the cells) is a reminder of the school function, meaning the novices' cells in an education centre. But more probably, the name alludes to the many rooms in the inner stone temple. Only the vicinity of this temple proper served as the campus. 

Residence buildings for Buddhist monks and novices were made of wood and naturally, do not exist any more. Banteay Kdei was an abode for monks over the centuries. At the back of the Western side of the main temple you can see an impressive picturesque tree breaking up the temple surface and growing on top of it.

This particular morning alone I took almost 400 photographs!!! Both on my DSLR as well as mobile pictures.

When I manage to crawl out of Banteay Kdei (literally) , I was too exhausted and hungry. Safy, my Tuk Tuk driver took me to the Muslim food kitchen for a meal. There was WiFi there so I logged on as I was suppose to meet a fellow backpacker . 

Surprise, surprise.. He was just at the other restaurant opposite mine, so when I finished my lunch I caught up with him and we went to buy our bus tickets for tomorrow. 

After buying our tickets, we split up and I went back to the hotel to rest. 

During Khmer Rouge rule under Pol Pot back in April 1975, it is estimated that around 2 million Cambodians died by starvation, torture or execution and this was around 30% of Cambodia’s population at the time.
It was a hard time and everyone was forced to work 12-14 hours a day in the labour camps. The people were fed once a day normally a bowl of watery soup with very little rice inside. 

People were killed everywhere whether they were children, elderly or fit adults who could work in the labour camps. The Khmer Rouge killed people if they didn’t like them, if they didn’t work hard enough, if they were educated, if they came from different ethnic groups, or if they showed a little disobedience but most were killed without reason.
Wat Thmei located on the left fork of the road to Angkor Wat, is a live in monastery now with a small memorial containing the skulls and bones of victims of the Khmer Rouge.

Don't you think it was sad... We are so lucky to be living our lives as we are...

Then I went to the National Museum but only loitered outside as it was also late and the museum was closing.. And Safy showed me the gardens near the royal palace of Cambodia's King. 

After that, he sent me  back to mad monkey but I went exploring and found the Khmer Chef restaurant and decided to eat there. 

Fried grasshoppers anyone? Sorry the picture is blurry though....

Huhuhu.... and below... a typical pushcart stall you can see near the old Market...

Then I got back to the hostel room and started packing..and now it's time to call it a day....night ya'all.. 

Thanks for visiting this photo blog and reading.. Leave a comment or two if you like... And like my Facebook page please..

Thank you....


  1. Such beautiful sights.. Very nice photos as well.

    1. thanks for visiting my humble blog Isaac, appreciate it... and thanks for the compliments

  2. kalau ANum belum ke sana, harus pergi... memang cantik!!!

  3. nice pics.i'm going there this coming nov..can't wait;p


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