Angkor Wat sunrise
We woke up around 5:00 to see the Angkor Wat sunrise. Again we werenâ€™t very lucky with the view. Nonetheless we were able to take some great pictures. We must have taken about 20 photos each of the most memorable view of Angkor Wat. After sunrise we headed for Banteay Srei. We hadnâ€™t planned visiting these ruins, but were advised by our guide to do so because they are considered by many specialists to be the most beautiful of Angkor. During the drive we had an opportunity to see how the Cambodian farmers lived. We could see that they were very poor, their land looked very dry, there werenâ€™t any tractors around and the cattle they used were usually skinny water buffalos. After about a 40 minute drive we finally arrived at our destination.
Banteay Srei is one of the most unusual temples of Angkor.
It lies 20 km due north of the main group and is built largely of red sandstone, which is covered with elaborate and deeply carved decoration. The buildings themselves are miniature in scale. These factors have made the temple extremely popular with tourists, and have led to it being widely praised as a "precious gem", or the "jewel of Khmer art".
Consecrated in 967, Banteay Srei was the only major temple at Angkor not built for the king; instead it was constructed by one of king Rajendravarmanâ€™s counsellors, Yajnyavahara. The temple was primarily dedicated to Shiva (the southern buildings and the central tower were devoted to him, but the northern ones to Vishnu). It lies near the hill of Phnom Dei 25 km (15 miles) north-east of the main group of temples, where the capital of the time (Yashodharapura) was located. The temple was subject to further expansion and rebuilding work in the eleventh century. At some point it came under the control of the king and had its original dedication changed; an inscription of the early twelfth century records the temple being given to the priest Divarakapandita and being rededicated to Shiva.
It remained in use at least until the fourteenth century.
Girls at Banteay Srei
The temple's original name was Tribhuvanamahesvara ï¿½" great lord of the threefold world ï¿½" named as usual after the central image. The town of Isvarapura was centered on the temple and the modern name, Banteay Srei ï¿½" citadel of the women, or citadel of beauty ï¿½" is generally taken to refer to the intricacy of the carving and the tiny dimensions of the architecture.
The temple was rediscovered only in 1914, and was the subject of a celebrated case of art theft when AndrÃ© Malraux stole four devatas in 1923 (he was soon arrested and the figures returned). The incident stimulated interest in the site, which was cleared the following year, and in the 1930s Banteay Srei was restored in the first important use of anastylosis at Angkor. Until the discovery of the foundation stela in 1936, it had been assumed that the extreme decoration indicated a later date than was in fact the case.
To prevent the site from water damage, the joint Cambodian-Swiss Banteay Srei Conservation Project installed a drainage system between 2000 and 2003. Measures were also taken to prevent damage to the temples walls being caused by nearby trees.
Banteay Srei's style is a mix of the archaic and the innovative. It is built largely of red sandstone, with brick and laterite used only for the enclosure walls and some structural elements. Although Banteay Srei's coloration is unique, sandstone of other shades was later to become the norm. Pediments are large in comparison to entrances, in a sweeping gabled shape. For the first time whole scenes appear on the pediments, while the lintels with central figures and kalas on looped garlands look backwards. The guardian dvarapalas and the colonettes are also old-fashioned. Decoration covering almost every available surface is deeply sculpted and figures rounded. The style is also seen in parts of Preah Vihear. Glaize wrote that, "Given the very particular charm of Banteay Srei ï¿½" its remarkable state of preservation and the excellence of a near perfect ornamental technique ï¿½" one should not hesitate, of all the monuments of the Angkor group, to give it the highest priority.
Like most Khmer temples, Banteay Srei is oriented towards the east. The fourth eastern gopura is all that remains of Isvarapura's outer wall, approximately 500 m square, which may have been made of wood. The gopura's eastern pediment shows Indra, who was associated with that direction. A 67 m causeway with the remains of corridors on either side connects the gopura with the third enclosure. North and south of this causeway are galleries orientated north-south (one to the north and three to the south halfway along, with a further one on each side in front of the third gopura). The third enclosure is 95 by 110 m, with gopuras in the laterite wall to the east and west. Neither pediment of the eastern gopura is in situ: one is on the ground nearby, while the other is in Paris's Guimet Museum.
Most of the area within the third enclosure is occupied by a moat divided into two parts by causeways to the east and west.
The succeeding second enclosure has a laterite wall of 38 by 42 m. The brick inner enclosure wall, a 24 m square, has collapsed, leaving the first gopura isolated, while the laterite galleries which filled the second enclosure have largely collapsed. The eastern pediment of the east gopura shows Shiva Nataraja. The central part of the west gopura was enclosed to form a sanctuary, with access being to either side.
A Girl at Banteay Srei
Between the gopuras are the buildings of the inner enclosure: a library in each of the south-east and north-east corners and in the centre the sanctuary set on a T-shaped platform 0.9 m high. Besides being the most extravagantly decorated parts of the temple, these have also been the most successfully restored. As of 2005, the entire first enclosure was off-limits to visitors, as was the southern half of the second enclosure.
The libraries are of brick, laterite and sandstone. The south library's pediments both feature Shiva: to the east Ravana shakes Mount Kailash, with Shiva on the summit; the west pediment has the god of love, Kama, shooting an arrow at him.
On the north library's east pediment, Indrs creates rain to put out a forest fire started by Agni to kill a naga living in the woods; Krishna and his brother aid Agni by firing arrows to stop the rain. On the west pediment is Krishna killing his uncle Kamsa.
Next we headed for Neak Pean!
Neak Pean ("Coiled Serpents") at Angkor, Cambodia is an artificial island with a Buddhist temple at the center of Jayatataka Baray, or Pool of Jayavarman.
The name is derived from the sculptures of snakes running around the base of the temple structure. Neak Pean was originally designed for medical purposes, as it is one of the many hospitals Jayvarman the seventh built. It is based on the ancient Hindu belief of balance. Four connected pools represent the Water, Earth, Fire and Wind. The ancients believe that going in these pools would balance the elements in you, thus curing your disease. In the middle of the four healing ponds is the central water source. There is a statue of Bahala (Bodisavatta Guan Yin transformed into a horse) as a symbol of drowning prevention.
We then headed for Preah Khan which is a temple built in the 12th century for King Jayavarman II. It is located northeast of Angkor Thom and just west of the Jayatataka baray, with which it was associated.
It was the centre of a substantial organization, with almost 100,000 officials and servants. The temple is flat in design, with a basic plan of successive rectangular galleries around a Buddhist sanctuary complicated by Hindu satellite temples and numerous later additions. Like the nearby Ta Prohm, Preah Khan has been left largely unrestored, with numerous trees and other vegetation growing among the ruins.
Preah Khan was built on the site of Jayavarman VII's victory over the invading Chams in 1181.
Unusually the modern name, meaning "holy sword", is derived from the meaning of the original Nagara Jayasri (holy city of victory). The site may previously have been occupied by the royal palaces of Yasovarman II and Tribhuvanadityavarman. The temple's foundation stela has provided considerable information about the history and administration of the site: the main image, of the boddhistava Avalokitesvara in the form of the king's father, was dedicated in 1191 (the king's mother had earlier been commemorated in the same way at Ta Prohm). 430 other deities also had shrines on the site, each of which received an allotment of food, clothing, perfume and even mosquito nets ; the temple's wealth included gold, silver, gems, 112,300 pearls and a cow with gilded horns.
Banteay Srei window
The institution combined the roles of city, temple and Buddhist University: there were 97,840 attendants and servants, including 1000 dancers and 1000 teachers.
The temple is still largely unrestored: the initial clearing was from 1927 to 1932, and partial anastylosis was carried out in 1939. Since then free-standing statues have been removed for safe-keeping, and there has been further consolidation and restoration work.
Preah Khan is northeast of Angkor Thom.
The temple was previously overrun with particularly voracious vegetation and quite ruined, presenting only chaos. Clearing works were undertaken with a constant respect for the large trees which give the composition a pleasing presentation without constituting any immediate danger. At the same time, some partial anastylosis has revived various buildings found in a sufficient state of preservation and presenting some special interest in their architecture or decoration.
Since 1991, the site has been maintained by the World Monuments Fund. It has continued the cautious approach to restoration, believing that to go further would involve too much guesswork, and prefers to respect the ruined nature of the temple. One of its members has said, "We're basically running a glorified maintenance program. We're not prepared to falsify history". It has therefore limited itself primarily to stabilization work on the fourth eastern gopura, the House of Fire and the Hall of Dancers.
The fourth enclosure wall bears 5 m garudas holding nagas. Buddha images in the niches above were destroyed in the anti-Buddhist reaction of Jayavarman VIII. The outer wall of Preah Khan is of laterite, and bears 72 garudas holding nagas, at 50 m intervals. Surrounded by a moat, it measures 800 by 700 m and encloses an area of 56 hectares (138 acres). To the east of Preah Khan is a landing stage on the edge of the Jayatataka baray, now dry, which measured 3.5 by 0.9 km. This also allowed access to the temple of Neak Pean in the centre of the baray.
As usual Preah Khan is orientated toward the east, so this was the main entrance, but there are others at each of the cardinal points. Each entrance has a causeway over the moat with naga-carrying devas and asuras similar to those at Angkor Thom.
Halfway along the path leading to the third enclosure, on the north side, is a House of Fire similar to Ta Prohm's.
The remainder of the fourth enclosure, now forested, was originally occupied by the city; as this was built of perishable materials it has not survived. The third enclosure wall is 200 by 175 m. In front of the third gopura is a cruciform terrace. The gopura itself is on a large scale, with three towers in the centre and two flanking pavilions. Between the southern two towers were two celebrated silk-cotton trees. One of the trees is now dead, although the roots have been left in place. The trees may need to be removed to prevent their damaging the structure. On the far side of the temple, the third western gopura has pediments of a chess game and the Battle of Lanka, and two guardian dvarapalas to the west.
West of the third eastern gopura, on the main axis is a Hall of Dancers.
The walls are decorated with apsaras; Buddha images in niches above them were destroyed in the anti-Buddhist reaction under Jayavaraman VIII. North of the Hall of Dancers is a two-storeyed structure with round columns. No other examples of this form survive at Angkor, although there are traces of similar buildings at Ta Prohm and Banteay Kdei. Occupying the rest of the third enclosure are ponds (now dry) in each corner, and satellite temples to the north, south and west. While the main temple was Buddhist, these three are dedicated to Shiva, previous kings and queens, and Vishnu respectively. They are notable chiefly for their pediments: on the northern temple, Vishnu Reclining to the west and the Hindu trinity of Vishnu, Shiva and Brahma to the east; on the western temple, Krishna raising Mount Govardhana to the west.
Connecting the Hall of Dancers and the wall of the second enclosure is a courtyard containing two libraries. The second eastern gopura projects into this courtyard; it is one of the few Angkorian gopuras with significant internal decoration, with garudas on the corners of the cornices. Buddha images on the columns were changed into hermits under Jayavarman VIII.
Between the second enclosure wall (85 by 76 m) and the first enclosure wall (62 by 55 m) on the eastern side is a row of later additions which impede access and hide some of the original decoration. The enclosure is divided into four parts by a cruciform gallery, each part almost filled by these later irregular additions.
The walls of this gallery, and the interior of the central sanctuary, are covered with holes for the fixing of bronze plates which would originally have covered them and the outside of the sanctuary - 1500 tones were used to decorate the whole temple. At the centre of the temple, in place of the original statue of Lokesvara, is a stupa built several centuries after the temple's initial construction.
returned to the Hotel and since we still had some time Susana, Miguel, Daniel
and I went to the Siem Reap market to see if we could buy some presents. At the
market we separated from each other and each one of us went on different
directions. Daniel and I entered the Market and passed where there were
practically no tourists in site. The market was filled with women selling fish
and chickens... there was blood everywhere. If the bird flue didn't exist here it couldn't exist anywhere!
As we were
leaving the market I noticed an enormous procession of Buddhist Monks and
people dressed in white passing by on the street.
At the end of the day we checked-out of the Hotel and headed for the airport to catch our 19:45 Vietnam Airlines flight to Hanoi. This flight was great because we traveled in 1st class and had our 1st contact with Vietnamese food. We arrived at 21:45, got on 2 Mini-Van taxis and headed for the Platinum II Hotel for check-in. What a ride! The taxi driver was riding at about 60 Km an hour and always honking his horn! Be prepared to see little statues of Buddha and sometimes mini-temples of worship in every taxi in Vietnam! After check-in we slept like babies.
Unfortunately I had left my
camera at the Hotel and wasnâ€™t able to take a shot. When we got back to the
mini-van I asked our driver what had happened. He told us that it was a ritual
Buddhist funeral for the death of the Buddhist leader of Siem Reap. We got on
the van and returned to the Hotel.
Vietnam, officially the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, is the easternmost nation on the Indochina Peninsula.
It borders China to the north, Laos to the northwest, and Cambodia to the southwest. On the country's east coast lies the South China Sea. With a population of over 85 million, Vietnam is the 13th most populous country in the world. The country is listed among the "Next Eleven" economies; according to government figures GDP growth was 8.17% in 2006, the second fastest growth rate among countries in East Asia and the fastest in Southeast Asia.
According to Vietnamese legends, people of various tribes were born outside the womb following the marriage of Loc Long QuÃ¢n (Dragon Chief) and Au Co (Fairy Goddess). However, most Vietnamese historians consider the Dong Son civilization that covered much of Southeast Asia to be the beginning of Vietnam's history.
In 208 BCE a Qin Dynasty general named Trieu Da established a state called Nam Viet which encompassed southern China and the Red River Delta. The historical significance of the original Nam Viet remains controversial because some historians consider it a Chinese occupation while others believe it was an independent era. For most of the period from 111 BCE to the early 10th century CE, Vietnam was under the rule of successive Chinese dynasties. Sporadic independence movements were attempted, but were quickly suppressed by Chinese forces.
In 939 CE a Vietnamese lord named Ngo Quyen defeated Chinese forces at the Bach Dang River and gained independence after 10 centuries under Chinese control. Renamed as Doi Viet, the nation went through a golden era during the Ly and Tran Dynasties. During the rule of the Tran Dynasty, Doi Viet repelled three Mongol invasions of Vietnam.
Following the brief Ho Dynasty, Vietnamese independence was briefly interrupted by the Chinese Ming Dynasty, but was restored by LÃª Loi, the founder of the LÃª Dynasty. Feudalism in Vietnam reached its zenith in the Le Dynasty of the 15th century, especially during the reign of Emperor Le Thanh Tong. Between the 11th and 18th centuries, the Vietnamese expanded southward in a process known as nam tien. They eventually conquered the kingdom of Champa and part of the Khmer Empire.
Towards the end of the LÃª Dynasty, civil strife engulfed much of Vietnam. First, the Chinese-supported Mac Dynasty challenged the LÃª Dynasty's power. After the Mac Dynasty was defeated, the LÃª Dynasty was reinstalled, but with no actual power. Power was divided between the Trinh Lords in the North and the Nguyen Lords in the South, who engaged in a civil war for more than a hundred years. The civil war ended when the TÃ¢y Son brothers defeated both and established their new dynasty.
However, their rule did not last long and they were defeated by the remnants of the Nguyen Lords with the help of the French, who established the Nguyen Dynasty.
Vietnam's independence ended in the mid-19th century, when the country was colonized by the French Empire. The French administration imposed significant political and cultural changes on Vietnamese society. A Western-style system of modern education was developed, and Christianity was introduced into Vietnamese society. Developing a plantation economy to promote the exports of tobacco, indigo, tea and coffee, the French largely ignored increasing calls for self-government and civil rights. A nationalist political movement soon emerged, with leaders such as Phan Boi Chau, Phan Boi Chau, Phan Chu Trinh, Emperor Ham Nghi and Ho Chi Minh calling for independence. However, the French maintained dominant control of their colonies until World War II, when the Japanese war in the Pacific triggered the invasion of Indochina.
The natural resources of Vietnam were exploited for the purposes of Japan's military campaigns into Burma, the Malay Peninsula and India.
The Siem Reap Market
In the final years of the war, a forceful nationalist insurgency emerged under Ho Chi Minh, committed to independence and communism. Following the defeat of Japan, nationalist forces fought French colonial forces in the First Indochina War that lasted from 1945 to 1954. The French suffered a major defeat at the Battle of Dien Bien Phu and shortly afterwards withdrew from the country. The countries that fought the Vietnam War divided the country at the 17th parallel into North Vietnam and South Vietnam during the Geneva Accords. The communist-held North Vietnam was opposed by the United States which had sided with the French colonists in the battle of Dien Bieu Phu for its close association with the Soviet Union and China.
Disagreements soon emerged over the organizing of elections and reunification, and the U.S. began increasing its contribution of military advisors even as Soviet-supplied arms and munitions strengthened communist forces. The Gulf of Tonkin Incident, which was actually two separate incidents, (one confirmed, one not) in 1964 on U.S. ships in the Gulf of Tonkin triggered a U.S. military assault on North Vietnamese military installations and the deployment of more than 500,000 troops into South Vietnam. U.S. forces were soon embroiled in a vicious guerrilla war with the Viet Cong, the North Vietnamese communist insurgent militia. North Vietnamese forces unsuccessfully attempted to overrun the South during the 1968 Tet Offensive and the war soon spread into neighboring Laos and Cambodia. With casualties mounting, the U.S. began transferring combat roles to the South Vietnamese military in a process known as Vietnamization. The effort had mixed results. The Paris Peace Accords on January 27, 1973 formally recognized the sovereignty of both sides.
The Siem Reap Market
Under the terms of the accords all American combat troops were withdrawn by March 29, 1973. Limited fighting continued, but all major fighting ended until the North once again invaded in strength and overpowered the South on April 30, 1975. South Vietnam briefly became the Republic of South Vietnam, a puppet state under military occupation by North Vietnam, before being officially reunified with the North under communist rule as the Socialist Republic of Vietnam on July 2, 1976.
The Siem Reap restaurant streets
Upon taking control, the Vietnamese communists banned other political parties; arrested people believed to have collaborated with the U.S. and sent them to reeducation camps. The government also embarked on a mass campaign of collectivization of farms and factories. Reconstruction of the war-ravaged country was slow and serious humanitarian and economic problems confronted the communist regime. Millions of people fled the country in crudely-built boats, creating an international humanitarian crisis.
In 1978, the Vietnamese Army invaded Cambodia to remove the Khmer Rouge from power. This action worsened relations with China, which launched a brief incursion into northern Vietnam in 1979. This conflict caused Vietnam to rely even more heavily on Soviet economic and military aid.
Angkor Wat sunrise
In a historic shift in 1986, the Communist Party of Vietnam implemented free-market reforms known as Doi Moi (Renovation). With the authority of the state remaining unchallenged, private ownership of farms and companies, deregulation and foreign investment were encouraged. The economy of Vietnam has achieved rapid growth in agricultural and industrial production, construction and housing, exports, and foreign investment. It is now one of the fastest growing economies in the world. However, this growth does little for the development of the country, and Vietnam still ranks as one of the poorest nations in the world.
This is due primarily to the fact that much of the money gained from the growth does not trickle down to the people. Politically, reforms have not occurred. The Communist Party of Vietnam retains control over all organs of government.
Hanumanalaya Guest House