Angkor Day 0

Siem Reap Travel Blog

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The naga (mystical snake spirit) bridge to the south gopura (gate) of Angkor Thom. These statues are pulling on the naga's body and another set flanks the bridge.

The Angkor temples are locted near Siem Reap, a small city in western Cambodia.  Though the most famous of these is Angkor Wat ("City Temple") the area is filled with structures of all sizes built during the Angkorian Empire (9th-14th centuries); one of the most powerful Asian empires of its time.  Angkor Wat itself is the largest religious structure in the world.

We purchased a 7 day pass to explore as many temples as we could but we only managed about half of them.

Our first day at the Angkor temples was actually a night.  We rented some bicycles and peddled our way up.  Since we purchased our passes at about 5pm we were allowed up that night for a free sunset.  Since everyone piles into Angkor Wat for about that time, we decided to go to the Bayon, located at Angkor Thom.

Megs in front of the Bayon.

The Bayon was the state temple of King Jayavarman VII (early 12th century) and his successors.  This temple passed through several religious stages in Khmer (Thai/Cambodian) history, from the pantheon of ancient Khmer dieties, through the adoption of the Hindu religion and finally to Buddhism.

The most intriguing feature of the Bayon are its numerous face towers.  37 remain standing but it is believed there were at least 49 in the original design.  Most of the towers have 4 faces, placed at each of the cardinal directions, but some have only 2 or 3.  At first I believed them to represent Brahma, the 4-faced god of creation from Hinduism, but the towers predate the adoption of that religion by the Khmer.  Apparently the towers are the face of Jayavarman VII overseeing the whole of his kingdom.  The shear number of towers and faces is awe-striking.

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The naga (mystical snake spirit) b…
The naga (mystical snake spirit) …
Megs in front of the Bayon.
Megs in front of the Bayon.
Doorway into the Bayon at sunset.
Doorway into the Bayon at sunset.
The gopuras face-tower.
The gopura's face-tower.
One of the 37 remaining face tower…
One of the 37 remaining face towe…
Face tower at sunset.
Face tower at sunset.
An apsara, or angel.
An apsara, or angel.
Megs going down from the towers.
Megs going down from the towers.
Buddha in an outdoor gallery.
Buddha in an outdoor gallery.
The Bayon at night.
The Bayon at night.
This large buddha was being tended…
This large buddha was being tende…
Lotus blossoms. They are sold as s…
Lotus blossoms. They are sold as …
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photo by: genetravelling