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dinsdag 10 maart 2009

Cambodia - Day 2 and 3

We started our tour of the temples today with the classics: Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom and Ta Prohm.

Most of the constructions were build between the end of the 12th and the end of the 13th century. The Angkor kingdom was at its height during that period and lasted until the beginning of the 17th century. After this time the power shifted to the Khmer in the South, present day Pnom Penh. The temples were lost to history until the French rediscoverd them in the 1850's. Most of them are either dedicated to Hindu gods or Buddha, sometimes both. Their most exquisite features are statues and bas-reliefs.

Amgkor Thom consists of a series of temples, of which the most interesting one is called Bayon. It is not extremely large, but it contains very nice bas-reliefs on the outer walls and huge faces on the towers. These faces point in the four cardinal directions and represent the four buddhist virtues. The basic idea is that they send out these virtues to the world. The buddhist equivalent of a beauty queen wishing for world peace (remember Miss Congeniality).

Angkor Wat is the biggest (and most famous) temple complex. I say complex because it used to be a religious village within the enclosure on itself. It has a moat, a huge causeway flanked by nagas (mythological mulit-headed snakes), and a very large temple. It's very nice, but a bit of a letdown after Angkor Thom. See it as the difference between the Koekelberg Cathedral in Brussels and St Gudule or the Antwerp Cathedral: one is huge and fairly simple, the other is intricate and detailed. I have to admit though that the bas-reliefs at Angkor Wat are quite impressive. Plus we got the see a monkey from upclose, that in itself made it worth the visit.

I'm not going to bore you with details from Ta Prohm. Suffice to say it was quite nice, but not as dope as the other two. But, when you're there it's worth the visit.

Since we're still recovering from jetlag we made it an early night after that.

Today we did another tour to some more temples: Bantaey Srei, Bantaey Samre, East Mebon, Ta Som, Neak Pean and Preah Khan. All of these were a lot smaller than the ones we did yesterday. They're less known, but that doesn't make them uglier. All well worth the visit. They had more of a nice and small character after the bombast of yesterday. Furthermore there were a heap less tourists, so we had some space and quiet. Those of you who want to know what they look like will have to wait for the pictures.

After a quick swim we'll be getting some food, we'll watch traditional apsara dancing (apsaras are supposed to be the hot chicks you get in heaven, as opposed to devadas who are chaste and no fun) and feed live crocodiles.

1 opmerking:

TOAO zei

I wonder if the budhist population would like to have their beleifs compared to spoiled little girls in expensive dresses. Either way good to know y r having fun over there.