CAMBODIA: TOMB/ROOM RAIDERS

Today we enter Cambodia.  After a quick flight into Siem Reap, followed by a slight frisson of anxiety caused by agents disappearing with our passports for a few minutes to attach visas, we traveled on to our next residence, an elegant Khmer-styled hotel.  And, my first WTDGAP moment on this journey.

img_7862

 

For those not familiar, I began using this acronym in 2014 to describe one of the curious aspects of travel – often things go astray, and dealing with these missteps can spur not only personal growth, but some very funny stories.  For this latest episode my friend Peggy and I enter our lovely room and are somewhat surprised that it doesn’t appear to look like the one I had selected.  You see, Peggy  is an intermittent sleeper, while I am a very light sleeper who needs silence and darkness to get my few hours of rest, so we try to secure rooms that have a separate seating area so we can each do our thing.  While the room on the hotel’s website showed a sofa area, our actual room did not.

No worries – one short conversation with management and et voilà!

img_1451

img_1452

Thus refreshed, we are ready for our exploration of the archaeological wonder of Angkor Temple complex.  Angkor Wat, the seat of the Angkor Empire and the largest monument in the Angkor group  occupies a rectangular area of about 500 acres. The South Gate, Angkor Thom (“Great City”) is accessed by a long sandstone causeway (length 820 feet; width  39 feet) crossing a moat 3.4 miles long and 656 feet wide .

img_7880

cm2296-08jt

 

img_7873

Three face towers adorn the top of the entrance, with the central tower facing both out and in.

img_7878

img_7892

My favorite features of the entrance are the gods on the left side and demons on the right side of the causeway.  Although some are either headless or have had recent head transplants, the remaining facial expressions are nevertheless powerful.

Demons

img_5869

img_7888

img_7889

Angels

img_7875

img_7876

The gods and demons seem to be supporting the body of a giant serpent, a seven headed known as Naga:

angkor-thom

My research turned up a Hindu myth called the “Churnings of the Ocean” that says the 54 gods or devas on the left are pulling the head of the snake while the 54 demons or asuras are pulling the tail in the opposite direction.  The snake itself is wrapped around the sacred mountain Mt. Meru,  the center of the universe. The constant back and forth of the snake causes the ocean to  churn, creating earth and the heavens.

The mystical atmosphere of the Angkor Temple complex definitely encourages the belief in the myth.

Once through the gates there are a never-ending maze of stairs, towers, galleries and windows:

img_7904

img_7906

img_7914

img_7913

 

 

img_7907

img_7905

If my photos seems a bit fuzzy in places, please don’t be alarmed – my photographic skills have not deteriorated.  I had to spend a considerable amount of time photoshopping as sadly there was not one area in this complex that did not have a horde of selfie stick marauders who thought nothing of taking their sweet time posing in every key vantage point.  In fact, to help keep my serenity in this most holy place, I cut short my exploration of the upper levels before an argument ensued. This is my PSA:  if you are visiting any area of interest and there are others waiting to enjoy the view –  please be respectful – TAKE YOUR PICTURE AND MOVE ON.

Deep cleansing breath.

The lower level galleries fortunately provided plenty of eye candy, including bas-relief images. Themes for the bas-reliefs come from Indian epics, sacred books, stories of warfare and simple daily life of the Angkor Period. See if you can guess what it being depicted:

img_7902

img_7901

img_7900

img_7898

img_7903

In case this is not fantastical enough, we now head on to Ta Prohm temple which is instantly recognizable to any Lara Croft fan. Winding, ghostly Banyon tree roots encompass spooky stone tunnels and towers and in some places the trees have taken over completely:

img_7939

img_7938

img_7937

 

img_7923

img_7922

img_7932

img_7933

 

Here is my  Lara Croft impression:

img_7936

We stayed at the Angkor complex until sunset but unfortunately were not in the best position to get the money shot .  Still, these were lovely views:

img_7953

img_7963

And, our Cambodian guide, Sokun, who will be forever in my gratitude for gently making the selfie stick horde queue properly, did take a magnificent photo on another recent visit:

img_5619

Oh my Buddha!

#

 

6 thoughts on “CAMBODIA: TOMB/ROOM RAIDERS

  1. Well we arrived home tonight, thanks so much for your card which arrived in our absence…….. love your hatred of the selfie stick morons! I also hate them as they don’t seem to have the common courtesy of other photographers, it’s all about themselves and the perfect shot. And the fact that people are having plastic surgery to improve their looks for selfies is downright scary! Anyway I thought your photos were great, love the heads and the beautiful sunset/sunrise? shot.

    On to your next adventure? Whenever/wherever that may be~

    • Thanks Diana – you know how I feel about getting the perfect shot – but I have as you know, no sympathy for these rude groups – it is bad enough when one person is sticking a selfie stick at your head – but the ones that really get me riled are groups of six or more who all have the sticks and all have to take the exact same picture – enough!!!!

      Next stop is Galapagos- am super excited – have ordered an underwater camera (of course)! Cindy

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s