A morning walk, Angkor

IMG_0538-Ta Prohm

Angkor Vat means, in Khmer: “the capital that became a Buddhist monastery”. The temples of Angkor are a blend between Hinduism and Buddhism. The faces carved out everywhere? I am not sure whether they represent Brahma or Buddha. Or one then the other. A good example of Asian capacity of “Fusion”.

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The jungle reclaims the ruins everywhere.

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The divine dancers, the Apsaras, dance eternally. On the walls. Part of Hinduism, the Apsaras are mentioned since the Rig-Veda. Now I understand those dancers in Angkor are really “Devata”. Who cares? I like Apsaras better.

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You can find your divine dancers on rice paper anywhere, in Siem Reap, or down the stairs of the temples.

Angkor

I know of no other place like Angkor. Maybe Borobudur (which I haven’t gone too. Yet). Angkor seems to me a combination of Versailles, the Louvre, the castles of the Loire, Notre-Dame-de-Paris and Chartres all in the same place. Add in Mont-Saint-Michel while we’re at it. In three or four days, I don’t think we covered more than half the site. I do intend to go back for a much longer period. Spend a whole day sitting on the elephant terrace, or a whole day in Le Bayon. To look at each of the Buddhas (Brahmas?) inside the temple. Close to 200? Walk a bit. Sit. Watch. Listen.

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“In the jungle, the mighty jungle, the lion sleeps tonight.” The lion is a “Myth-stery”. Originally confined to Africa, the middle-east and India, it has become a universal symbol. In Europe, or South-East Asia. Many of the lions in Angkor have been nearly destroyed by time and the weather. Some are being restored. See the leg on the left?

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The museum at Siem Reap holds fantastic pieces. There is a room of the thousand buddhas. (No pix allowed). Use your eyes to keep the memory.

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Prasat Kravan is different from Angkor Vat, Angkor Tom or Bayon, where huge stones are used to create immense sculptures and buildings. This small site is made of bricks. A different rendering.

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Buddha again. Om mani…

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As you walk along the paths of Angkor, you start wondering whether the trees are not the true “heroes” of the story.

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Prasat Kravan again. Very well restored.

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Heroes… Hmm. Maybe we urgently need new heroes? Are the lions heroes? Or the Nagas?

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Skip a few thousand klicks. Many hours in plane. This is Xochicalco. (For Janet). Xochicalco (the house of flowers in Nahuatl) was built around 650AD, then sacked and abandoned around the 9th century, about the time Angkor was being built.

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Apsaras (or Devatas if you so please). A study in B&W, Angkor, 2018.

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Study in colours. Altar to my Lord Buddha, Angkor Thom.

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The lion came back! National museum, Siem Reap. (Pronounce “raip”)

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Lions howling at the moon. Wot? Lions don’t do that? It’s them wolves? So?

I fell at the end of the stairs of that particular temple. Tore my ankle a bit. Scratched a bit of skin. Fortunately, it was the one before last temple that day. I hopped my way along the rest of the ruins.

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Same temple. Pre Rup, I think. Veeery steep stairs.

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A day in Angkor. Whenever you go, do that. Sit somewhere. Anywhere. And take the place in. Traveller # not available. I think she “hopped” directly from Woodstock in 1969. I need to check the manifest.

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Ta Prohm. This place is well known, by the tree growing directly on top of the gallery. The locals call it: “Tomb raider”. Part of the Lara Croft/Angelina Jolie was shot there. Unfortunately so many people come to see and “pix” along, barriers have been put all around. Hard to get a decent shot. I wonder if you can stay the night? Hang a hammock to a pair of trees? There might be mosquitoes.

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The last temple of the trip: Ta Som. Beautiful trees taking over the ruins. Or maybe, Buddha called them?

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Glorious light on one of the gates to Bayon. Like I said: stay a day at a time in each temple. Just one temple. See how the light changes.

Thank you ever so much for flying Equinoxio Airways, the “last” airline still operating through time and space. Last news, we just got a 7.5 earthquake in Mexico this morning. Quite impressive. Seems there are only minor damages. Hopefully. Peace be with you. 🙏🏻

 

 

83 thoughts on “A morning walk, Angkor

    • I take it you have been? (On n’a pas déjà eu cette conversation?) we spent a short week, 5 days including arrival and departure, so that’s 3 full days. I could spend a few weeks easily. Tout va bien chez toi?

      • Yes 😉 about ten years ago and the Tomb Raider trees were no fenced off then but it always surprised me how many temple structures that you could climb. I suspect that they will eventually follow the lead of the Pyramids and forbid such climbing.

      • Just been to Tulum in Yucatan at christmas. 25 years after our first visit. Almost every building is fenced off. Too many – illiterate – tourists climbing everywhere, destroying the ruins. Need to fence out. A shame for the view, but better for the ruins. Dix ans? un beau voyage. Avec beaucoup moins de monde… A +

      • And it would seem that human stupidity is a side effect of the coronavirus. “Tous n’en mourraient pas mais tous étaient frappés…” A +

  1. So fascinating and great photos. This place look so otherworldly and magical – hopefully I will also be able to visit it one day. I often seem to read some news related to Angkor – scientists are discovering something new related to that place – that always gets me excited and it is a great thought that even such ancient places still have secrets to be uncovered.

  2. The juxtaposition of the tree roots (ficus?) and sculpture is extraordinary, though how long can the constructions last in the stranglehold? Is one now holding up the other, in symbiosis?

    • I understand many structures are now being held together by the roots. (Ficus for some and banyan, I believe.) Thing is Angkor was abandoned in the 1400’s. When Doudart de Lagrée and his French expedition “Re-discovered” it, 5 centuries had gone by.
      I like the concept of Symbiosis. Angkor is a place of such beauty and peace.
      Hope all is well with you?

  3. Wow, what a extraordinary place to explore. I’ve heard people complaining that the entrance fee to see the sights is a little bit high but I guess it’s worth every penny to see all the temples. Thanks for sharing such beautiful photos and take care 😊 Aiva

    • Angkor is practically the only source of foreign cash for Cambodia. If you tour Asia with a backpack it may be a tad expensive. The entry visa alone is high. 40 bucks if I recall. We took a long pass. 3-4 days. Worth it any time. And the rest of life in Siem Reap is cheap.
      Glad you liked the “virtual trip”. You must go. Some day. 🙏🏻
      Brian

  4. Thoroughly enjoyed walking the Siem Reap ruins with you, Brian. Your photos are wonderful along with your research. We are both in SE Asia memories lately. 🤗

    • Thank you Jane. “My photos”? Come on! (Flattery will get you anywhere) 😉 I just snap, and edit. Great memories aren’t those? (Can’t wait for the next window to go back to Asia. Really fell in love with the place…
      Have you moved away, or am I mistaken?

    • PS. Besides, Angkor is such a unique subject… Can’t really miss a photo. (Though there have been times when I thought I could have used a couple of other lenses. No I-phone adapter yet, darn!)

  5. Thanks for a smooth flight and the tour, Equinoxio Airways. “In three or four days, I don’t think we covered more than half the site.” The scale of the place is far more than I every imagined it to be. I am impressed. The fusion between Hinduism an Buddhism is equally fascinating.

    • The scale is unique. And to top it all, there are at least a couple of other less visited sites nearby. So I must go back. Have you been? It’s closer to your neck of the woods.

      • I have been to Thailand and Singapore quite a few times but never to Cambodia or Angkor Wat. I lost the desire to go to Asia once I discovered my affinity for Scandinavia and Europe.

      • Understandable. I finally completed the full tour of the world in Asia precisely. And after so many years in the “South”, I am totally drawn “back” to Europe. TBH I am tired of the chaos in the South. BUT, Asia is an exception in my mind. I do want to go back to Singapore and Angkor. Burma and Vietnam possibly. We’ll see. Take care.

      • I think I would like to visit Asia, if it wasn’t for the heat. There is much to see, but Europe is bewitching. The ironic thing is that when I was young I had zero interest in doing a year in England or a tour of Europe, like all my peers. Although I dud consider going on the Trans Siberian railroad. Europe seemed a little touristy and boring and I really wanted to see different cultures and broaden my knowledge of different perspectives on life. Europe didn’t tick the boxes like Nepal and Thailand did in that way. How fortunate we are to pick and choose where we travelled? I am grateful for that. I can understand you feel tired of a chaotic adventure and perhaps the stoic regularities of a European/Northern sojourn appeal more to you now?

      • With your roots I can understand the heat issue. But I was born in India (Pakistan. Same difference to me) and raised in Africa. I’m trained for the heat. (And yes we are fortunate to be able to choose).
        But it’s exactly that. Tired. Just like Somerset Maugham’s characters. I could not understand when I was young why the local resident deep in the jungle of Malaysia who dressed up for dinner, could only dream for a retirement cottage in rainy Dorset.
        Now I understand. 😉
        Be good.

      • It is interesting how our base country – ie the one we are born in, or place we are born in trains us for our preference for weather or temperature conditions. Although I have Scandi origins, I was born here in Australia, but in a place renowned for being cold and rainy. And that is what I like. Yet here I am in sub tropical climate that many southerners retire to, as their bones suffer with the cold weather down south. I do feel the cold, but I do like it if the other option is sweating….
        Nice visual imagery of the Malaysian dressing for dinner looking at real estate in Dorset.

      • Our first 5 or 10 years define us. Where and how we lived. I lived 3 years in Holland in between 2 African assignments, and hated the the weather. 😉
        Now the image? Somerset Maugham was a great writer. I also have tons of photos of my parents in a white tuxedo and evening dress almost every evening in the Karachi heat of the 50’s. 👍🏻

      • Those were the days weren’t they? When culture meant dressing to the nines for dinner, no matter the climate or place. I believe some cruise companies still uphold this, although I wouldn’t know as I have only been on ferries not cruise liners. I think you could be right about the first 5-10 years.

  6. I do adore the trees! (as well) Two of them look as if they are melting down onto the buildings, quite surrealistic.

    A 7.5 earthquake, that is a major one, supposed to cause a lot of damage. How lucky that it didn’t.

  7. So glad to see this. Once I would have said it’s on my bucket list, but we have made a covenant with nature to reduce our footprint, so I really enjoy the travels of others. Yes, we need new heroes.

    • Avec grand plaisir “Mélie”. Ces temps-ci on voyage comme on peut. Comment se passe “la rentrée”? Pas de rebond du virus? L’économie? C’est vraiment le marteau et l’enclume… Biz. A+

      • Cette reprise était nécessaire…
        Je dois avouer, qu’en voyant certaines images de la fête de la musique, j’ai quelques craintes…
        Le virus est toujours là… Il faut rester prudent
        Chez toi ? Ça ce passe bien ?
        Reste prudent

      • Les craintes subsistent. Les gens oublient si vite. J’ai vu les photos aussi… Pas de masque… 😷
        Ici, ça va mal. autour de 1 000 morts par jours. Officiels. Les vrais chiffres peuvent être 2 à 4 fois plus élevés… Les hôpitaux sont pleins…
        La prudence est mère de toutes les vertus comme disait ma grand-mère… (Ou l’ai-je encore inventé?)
        Stay safe. Biz.

  8. Glorious place to visit. Those trees make me think of the Strangling Figs found in Costa Rica (and surely other areas) – they take over other trees, why not temples?

    • Those would be ficus I guess. Haven’t been to Costa Rica yet, all who have say it is beautiful. Some of the trees in Angkor are “Ceiba” which can be found in the Amazon, or in West Africa under another name (Fromager in French). 🙏🏻

    • It is. There is no place like Angkor. I lived in Cambodia when I was little. My first visual memories are from Phnomh-Penh. There’s a story with a tiger somewhere… 😉 Then we left, and came the Khmer rouges… Such a peaceful country and people, and such a mass slaughter. It is difficult to forget that in Cambodia. But the country has healed. And Buddha (or is it Brahma?) 😉 (Maybe they are the same thing) will be there forever.
      I like your Emoji. Very appropriate. Thank you, “Dost” 🙏🏻

  9. Magnificent! I think it is the largest religious monument in the world, and if I remember correctly, I think I read somewhere that it is actually a reconstruction of Mount Meru – the epicenter of Hindu mythology and faith. I hope to go there one day to visit! Stay healthy!

    • Probably is the largest. And worth the visit. Then you can say that a “representation” of yourself walked around the “representation” of Mount Meru. Namaste. 🙏🏻

    • “Never say never”… You still stay part of the year in South Africa? Go back the other way. Through Asia.
      “Magical” says one wizard to the other? LOL. YOUR pics are magical. Me? I just happen to be there. Have a nice Sunday.

  10. If there’s one thing I’d like to do, one day, is to get down to Angkor, get in the temples at dawn after a nightly downpour, check out the banyan trees strangling the rocks like molten plastic cables and feel like François Bizot at the beginning of “The Gate”, because it all went to shit. Your photos gave me a good idea of how it’d feel like.

  11. Ahhh… such peace!
    I loved touring with you. And I agree; such places and their ancient spiritual feelings seem to hold a wonderful spell over those of us attuned to such energies.
    I haven’t been to Angkor, though would love to.

  12. What a brilliant holiday tour, I must sweet-talk my parents into taking me along on their next holiday 😂 we didn’t go away every year but when we did we always went to scenic and interesting sites.

  13. Gorgeous photos again, Peng Yu. Thank you for taking us “traveling” through your stories. I have never been to AngKor yet but I can imagine the magnificent beauty of it.

  14. So lovely to return to one of my favorite places on the earth through your lens. I recommend a visit to Borobudur as well, but it is nowhere near as extensive as Angkor Wat and surrounds. Have never been to Xochicalco, but who knows, maybe it is in my future 🙂

    • Angkor is… out of this world, isn’t it? 🙏🏻
      From the photos, I think Borobudur must be great but not comparable…
      I put Xochicalco in, because I believe there are many converging points between Asian and pre-Columbian cultures…

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