Virtual meanderings

Tag Archives: Angkor Thom

Siem Reap Random Fragments

I decided to call this post on Siem Reap and Cambodia “Fragments”.

Gary Larson's Cartoon Far Side

Courtesy: the Far Side


            A quote attributed to U.S. musician Frank Zappa – “You can’t be a Real Country unless you have a beer and an airline – it helps if you have some kind of a football team or some nuclear weapons, but at the very least you need a beer”.

Angkor Beer

Angkor Beer

Angkor Beer – check!


            In a similar vein. What do you need to have in order to be a Real Tourist place? A National Museum and an International Hospital for tourists, right? At the very least – Angkor National Museum at Siem Reap.

            Visited it on the last day of my stay and spent a good three hours there. Museum featured seven thematically organized exhibition halls devoted to different aspects of Khmer heritage and history. Hinduist (e.g. Angkor Wat) origins, short flirtation with Mahayana Buddhism (Ankhor Thom), fights with the neighboring empires, hall of the thousand Buddhas to remind of the  Theravada tradition…

           A suspicion: most artifacts ended in the museum after first being hacked off and stolen, then hidden and sold off –eventually ending back in the hands of the government. Might be wrong, though.


 Siem Reap Angkor National Museum Artefact Daemon - Siem Reap Angkor National Museum Artefact

Angkor Thom Main Gate

Angkor Thom Main Gate Passageway

..and tails..

          In the last hall of the museum on a huge screen you can watch a video of the sun rising above Angkor. Every twenty minutes or so. By the way, the International Hospital is just a couple of hundred meters away.

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Angkor III: The life of a Khmer girl

Kids selling postcards and bracelets outside Angkor Wat

Kids selling postcards and bracelets outside Angkor Wat

Courtesy: Lyevkin @ flickr

    Cambodia seems to be the country where everyone smiles back at you (unlike Thailand which invented the “Land of Smiles” slogan). If you take it at face value, it is the happy smile of a person who takes life’s lemons and makes lemonade. But while sincere, it is still a very fragile type of smile. This is perhaps because except for a smile most people here have little else. It is their only weapon, their only leverage, their only instrument to win you over, their only way to maintain their dignity, their only way to save face regardless of the circumstances.

    I did not take the picture above of these gorgeous kids outside Angkor – some person whom I do not know did. But I saw plenty of those little vendors there myself. I, too, fell for their irresistible charm, and parted with some dollars.

    So, the question is, what will these kids become when they grow up? I do not know. But since this post’s title is “The Life of a Khmer Girl”, let’s get on with it:

How old are you?

Are you married?

Where did you learn to speak English?
I take English lessons at a school in Siem Reap – a one-hour lesson each morning before work.

Is it free?
No.  A lesson costs two dollars. Read more of this post

Discovering Angkor

“Falsehood is never in words; it is in things.”
― Italo Calvino, “Invisible Cities

    You have been told that there exists a huge temple in the jungle, the biggest anyone has ever seen. But what do Khmer people know about big? Have they ever been to Europe to marvel at the magnificent French cathedrals? Of course not…

     You are on your way to that temple. Your Khmer guide stops and points his finger forward – and then you see it for the very first time – half immersed into the jungle. How old is it? Why is it almost abandoned? What happened? When? Why?

    You are a French guy called Henri Mouhot, and it is the mid 19-th century. You move closer and here is what you see-

Henri Mouhot's drawing of Angkor

Henri Mouhot's drawing of Angkor

You enter the compounds. Cambodia is a place where Theravada Buddhism has ruled for centuries, but you immediately take notice of the hundreds of statues of beautiful half-naked women. You are not sure how come they abound here. Then you reach the central building – a temple of sorts for the few locals living in the area. You spend the day marvelling at its hundreds of meters of bas-reliefs – whose scenes inexplicably resemble episodes from the Indian epic Mahabharata. Then you remember those strange creatures above some of the entrances – don’t they look like the garudas you’ve seen elsewhere? And the half-naked female dancers – could they be apsaras? Read more of this post

Angkor Wat | Angkor Thom photos (a taste of things to come)

   I thought that Angkor Wat was supposed to be the world’s largest religious complex. But could it be that like many other “largest, biggest, best” places to see, it would turn out to be mostly hype, smoke and mirrors? I mean, you call this big?

Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat - not as big as they want you to believe!!!


    By the way, that’s not me on the photo (in case you wondered). And now, let’s get serious.

    I’ve been to many locations that are hailed as architectural masterpieces. Ankgor Wat just blows them away. Even the ruins of Ayutthaya (Thailand’s ancient capital and source of national pride) are no match for Angkor’s magnificence.

     I prefer to not add comments to the photos below… Enjoy them for what they are. Make up your own explanations. A picture is worth a thousand words, and in this case a thousand words will do no good to any of the pictures. And when you are done, prepare to read my next post for some explanations.

All the photos were taken using a cheap digital camera. If you like what you see, the credit is neither mine, nor the camera’s.

Angkor Wat || Angkor Thom

Angkor Wat || Angkor Thom

Angkor Wat II Angkor Thom

Angkor Wat II Angkor Thom

Angkor Wat || Angkor Thom

Angkor Wat || Angkor Thom

Angkor Wat || Angkor Thom

Angkor Wat || Angkor Thom

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