Angkor Wat

Discussion in 'Cambodia Road Trip Reports' started by DavidFL, Jul 23, 2016.

  1. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    First time in Cambodia for me (I'm a bit slow, you might rightly say) & fly in fly out trip with the GF for a 5 day Thai holiday break.

    Siem Reap - the old market town - was a totally enjoyable charming town, such that we absolutely enjoyed eating, drinking & strolling around.

    Food & drink recommendations are here
    Siem Reap Restaurants
    we loved the easy going ambience, & the extreme politeness of the Khmer people.
    Even the level of English was better than in Thailand the GF said.
    We lucked out too with a wonderful hotel: the Shadow Angkor Residence,
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    booked via booking.com & my favourite hotel finder.

    We arrived at 9PM at night from Bkk & the first day just hang out in town after a late sleep in.

    Day 2 was out to Angkor Wat then & what an amazing place that is.
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    The Angkor temples - city make it world's largest religious monument covering an area of 400 square kms; yet Angkor Wat still didn't make it as one of the Seven Wonders of the World voted on in 2007.

    It's hard to imagine people building something as massive & magnificent as that hundreds of years ago without machinery.

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    Originally built as a Hindu temple dedicated to the god Vishnu,
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    it was converted into a Buddhist temple in the 14th century, and statues of Buddha were added to its already rich artwork.
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    Constructed from sandstone, it is estimated that 5 million tons was used & carried from a quarry 25 kms away.
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    The bricks were bonded together using a vegetable compound rather than mortar.
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    There were an estimated 300,000 laborers used to build Angkor Wat, plus 6,000 elephants; & the construction took a mere 35 years.
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    Built before the industrial revolution, the city of Angkor was the largest known city in the world, with an estimated population of one million people, which compares with London's 30,000 at the time.

    There are 292 temples in the Angkor complex, a fifth of those surviving in Cambodia from the Khmer civilization. Among these are 72 major temples and monuments, and 220 minor ones, of which 30 have been cleared from the jungle and can be visited. By one count the entire complex contains 700 large and small temples and shrines.

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    More to come..
     
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2016
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  3. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    In 1901, when opened 200 tourists visited the Angkor site in the first 3 months.
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    In 2012 2,060,000 people came.
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    Angkor Wat was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1992.
    The site suffered from decades of unregulated tourism and looting; many ancient statues have been decapitated and their heads sold to private collectors.

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    One of the first Westerners to see Angkor Wat was Antonio da Madalena, a Portuguese monk, who visited in 1586.

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    Long before Europeans arrived, a Chinese emissary named Zhou Daguan lived in Angkor for one year between 1296 and 1297; he created a written account of his experience there sometime before 1312. Zhou Daguan's book, the only account of 13th-century Angkor, was translated into English by Peter Harris in the book A Record of Cambodia.

    Zhou described Angkor as a city filled with gilded statues, towers, thatched roof homes for ordinary people and tile-roofed palaces for the rich. Monks wore saffron robes and had shaved heads (as they do today); soldiers carried lances and shields; and both men and women went topless and wore their hair long and tied in a knot. The Chinese envoy also described female merchants, lepers, criminals with their hands and noses cut off as punishments, and nobles carried on gold, silver and silk palanquins.

    According to Zhou slavery was common and rich families had up to 1,000 slaves. He also described huge parades with clusters of ceremonial umbrellas with gold handles reserved for the highest ranks; and wrote that husbands of adulterous wives were allowed to torture their wive’s lovers with a special devise that squeezed their feet, until the pain was so unbearable they turned over all their property to the husband.​

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    Henri Mouhot, a French explorer, helped bring Angkor Wat to fame in the West by publishing an account of his visit in the mid-19th century. His book is Travels in Siam, Cambodia, Laos, and Annam.

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    more to come..
     
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2016
  4. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    According to UNESCO:
    Angkor “extends over approximately 400 square kilometers and consists of scores of temples, hydraulic structures (basins, dykes, reservoirs, canals) as well as communication routes. For several centuries Angkor, was the center of the Khmer Kingdom. With impressive monuments, several different ancient urban plans and large water reservoirs, the site is a unique concentration of features testifying to an exceptional civilization. Temples such as Angkor Wat, the Bayon, Preah Khan and Ta Prohm, exemplars of Khmer architecture, are closely linked to their geographical context as well as being imbued with symbolic significance. The architecture and layout of the successive capitals bear witness to a high level of social order and ranking within the Khmer Empire. Angkor is therefore a major site exemplifying cultural, religious and symbolic values, as well as containing high architectural, archaeological and artistic significance.[Source: UNESCO World Heritage Site website]

    The Angkorian period lasted from the early ninth century to the early fifteenth century A.D. In terms of cultural accomplishments and political power, this was the golden age of Khmer civilization. The great temple cities of the Angkorian region, located near the modern town of Siemreab, are a lasting monument to the greatness of Jayavarman II's successors.

    At its greatest extent, in the 12th century, the Khmer kingdom encompassed (in addition to present-day Cambodia) parts of present-day Vietnam, Laos, Thailand, Myanmar (formerly Burma), and the Malay Peninsula. Thailand and Laos still contain Khmer ruins and inscriptions. The kings at Angkor received tribute from smaller kingdoms to the north, east, and west, and conducted trade with China. The capital city was the center of an impressive network of reservoirs and canals, which historians theorize supplied water for irrigation. Many historians believe that the abundant harvests made possible by irrigation supported a large population whose labor could be drawn on to construct the kings' temples and to fight their wars. The massive temples, extensive roads and waterworks, and confident inscriptions give an illusion of stability that is undermined by the fact that many Khmer kings gained the throne by conquering their predecessors. Inscriptions indicate that the kingdom frequently suffered from rebellions and foreign invasions.

    Rise of the Angkor Empire
    In the early 9th century a Khmer (ethnic Cambodian) prince returned to Cambodia from abroad. He probably arrived from nearby Java or Sumatra, where he may have been held hostage by island kings who had asserted control over portions of the Southeast Asian mainland. In a series of ceremonies at different sites, the prince declared himself ruler of a new independent kingdom, which unified several local principalities. His kingdom eventually came to be centered near present-day Siemreab in northwestern Cambodia. The prince, known to his successors as Jayavarman II, inaugurated a cult honoring the Hindu god Shiva as a devaraja (Sanskrit term meaning "god-king"). The cult, which legitimized the king's rule by linking him with Shiva, persisted at the Cambodian court for more than two hundred years. [

    The sacred mountain of Phnom Kulen, to the northeast of Angkor, is home to an inscription that tells of Jayavarman II (r 802–50) proclaiming himself a ‘universal monarch’, or devaraja (god-king) in 802. It is believed that he may have resided in the Buddhist Shailendras’ court in Java as a young man. Upon his return to Cambodia he instigated an uprising against Javanese control over the southern lands of Cambodia. Jayavarman II then set out to bring the country under his control through alliances and conquests, the first monarch to rule most of what we call Cambodia today.

    “Jayavarman II was the first of a long succession of kings who presided over the rise and fall of the greatest empire mainland Southeast Asia has ever seen, one that was to bequeath the stunning legacy of Angkor. The key to the meteoric rise of Angkor was a mastery of water and an elaborate hydraulic system that allowed the ancient Khmers to tame the elements. The first records of the massive irrigation works that supported the population of Angkor date to the reign of Indravarman I (r 877–89) who built the baray (reservoir) of Indratataka. His rule also marks the flourishing of Angkorian art, with the building of temples in the Roluos area, notably Bakong.”**

    Angkor-Khmer God-Kings and Their Court
    Between the early 9th century and the early 15th century, 26 monarchs ruled successively over the Khmer kingdom (known as Angkor, the modern name for its capital city). The successors of Jayavarman II built the great temples for which Angkor is famous. Historians have dated more than a thousand temple sites and over a thousand stone inscriptions (most of them on temple walls) to this era.

    Ordinary Khmers feared their kings, regarded them as their protectors and worshiped them as gods. Each Khmer king inaugurated his reign by building a new temple and installing the devaraja cult (See Below). He was expected to bring prosperity to the kingdom and pass that prosperity on to his ancestors and his descendants. His power was unquestioned and complete.

    The Khmer kings lived quite well. The Chinese envoy Zhou Daguan, who visited Angkor in 1296, wrote that Jayavarman VIII had five wives and several thousand concubines and palace girls. When he appeared in public he rode on an elephant with golden tusks and wore strings of pearls, diamond and gold bracelets and rings, and a robe with patterns reserved for royalty. He was escorted by elephant-mounted soldiers, ministers and princes. All common people that saw him were expected to bow and touch their foreheads to the ground.

    The kings were also military leaders, Bas-reliefs at Bayon depict kings on battle elephants and in war canoes, accompanied by horse-mounted warriors, flanked by musicians; elephant-mounted commanders, identified by umbrellas; and soldiers in exotic headdresses, armed with javelins and supplied by ox carts filled food and weaponry.

    Initially, the Khmers were Hindus. Angkor Wat originally was the center of royal phallic cult dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva. A linga (the phallic symbol of Shiva) was installed in the temple’s main sanctuary. Later Vishnu became the most important Hindu god and his image was placed in the sanctuary at Angkor Wat. Under Jayavarman VII the Khmer converted to Mahayana Buddhism. Later, Theravada Buddhism was introduced by the Thais. It became dominate after the Khmer empire collapsed.
     
  5. brian_bkk

    brian_bkk Ol'Timer

    Visited Siem Reap four times now.
    The first time.. The local bank asked us to sign a petition to get the first ATM in Siem Reap..

    Three times around the Temple Complex..

    Just amazing.. three days and you can still spend more time roaming around taking it all in.

    Look forward to more pics from this epic destination.

    Made a video of it the journey back in 2004.. That was the second trip.
    Will see if I can find it and upload to YouTube.

    Cheers
    Brian.
     
  6. sgBikerBoy

    sgBikerBoy sgBikerBoy.com

    Hi David, did you have any trouble taking your motorcycle into and around Angkor Wat? I'm planning to do it, but I've also read reports that it's now not possible for foreigners.
     
  7. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    Ta Prohm
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    image: Message To Eagle.

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    The pathway in
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    Is arguably the most exciting of the Khmer Angkor ruins, mainly because it has been left unrestored, so that people may appreciate its raw beauty overgrown & entangled by massive trees.
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    Covering 150 acres, Ta Prohm has a huge entrance gate with Buddha faces.
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    One of the largest monuments at Angkor, it includes 260 statues of gods & 39 tower pinnacles.
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    There’s a Sanskrit inscription (somewhere) detailing the earlier wealth & beauty of the temple:
    · 3,140 villages
    · 79,365 people maintained the temple. This included 18 great priests, 2,740 officials, 2,202 assistants and 615 dancers.
    · Temple property of 500 kgs golden dishes, 35 diamonds, 40,620 pearls, 4,540 precious stones, 876 veils from China, 512 silk beds and 523 parasols.
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    The center of the monument is reached by a series of towers connected with passages. This arrangement forms a ' sort of sacred way into the heart of the monument’; three-square galleries enclose the area.

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    Angelina Jolie's Tomb Raider Tree
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    you have to queue up to get a photo
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    Paramount pictures paid $10,000 day to film at Angkor.

    Meanwhile other trees hug the ruins manically
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    Other rubble lays where it has fallen
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    but there is still beauty everywhere you look.

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    it is a sensational jaw dropping sight to behold in every direction.

    More to come.
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    that's not all yet folks...
     
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2016
  8. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    If you read the start of my report you will see it was a fly in / fly out trip.
    So we hired a tuk tuk for US$15 a day to run us around town, plus in & out to the ruins.
    We also bought a one-week non consecutive days 3 visit ticket.
    Out one day, rest the next day & out again the next day..you have to do A LOT of walking, believe me!
    I did see some guy on a Malaysian Varadero riding out near the ruins & because he was out there suspect he got in ok.
    I don't consider it is a problem & reckon its actually better to take a tuk tuk out rather than your bike, as in the tuk you can go out in shorts & a light shirt + hat walking around.
    With a bike you have to lock your gear up somehow safely - jacket. helmet etc.
    So for me US$15 just take a tuk tuk, the guys all know what to do & where to go.
    The guy we had was excellent - mature, extremely polite, humble & gentlemanly. Mr Tu? Tel 012 703 264. He hangs out on the river near the Shadow Angkor Residence hotel. A fabulous guy.
     
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2016
  9. sgBikerBoy

    sgBikerBoy sgBikerBoy.com

    Ah! Okay. Thanks for the reply and the tip!
     
  10. Jurgen

    Jurgen Ol'Timer

    It's great David ... happy to see this through the eyes (camera) of a friend. A great incentive to go there also very soon. Waiting to see more of your nice pictures :)
     
  11. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    Bayon Temple
    Bayon was built at the end of the 12th century by King Jayavarman VII, one of the greatest Khmer Empire’s kings.
    It is located in the centre of the ancient Angkor Thom city it represents Mount Meru, the center of the universe in Hindu and Buddhist cosmology.
    It's an absolutely stunning sight.
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    Bayon is famous for its stone faces, sometimes called the "Mona Lisa of South East Asia" & there are 200 gigantic stone faces in sets of four, each identical & pointing to a cardinal direction.

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    Clearing of the monument was done in the 1910’s. The face towers and the central sanctuary were restored by the EFEO in the 1940’s using the anastylosis method. Since the end of the 20th century, the Japanese Government Team for Safeguarding Angkor (JSA) maintains the monument.

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    The entrance to the walled city Angkor Thom
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    it's can be a squeeze getting in

    more to come..
     
  12. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    Hurry up & go to the Angkor historical park while it is still cheap.....

    Entry prices will double from February 2017


    PHNOM PENH: The Cambodian government on Friday announced a major increase in entrance fees for the Angkor temple complex, with the cost of a one-day ticket nearly doubling to US$37 from early next year.

    Angkor Enterprise, the state agency in charge of ticket sales, said that starting from Feb 1, the prices foreigners must pay for a one-day Angkor Pass will rise from $20 to $37, a three-day ticket from $40 to $62 and a one-week ticket from $60 to $72.

    Cambodian citizens, as well as foreigners of Cambodian birth or whose parents are Cambodian, are exempt from paying the entrance fee, as are foreign children under 12 years old.

    According to the statement, $2 from each ticket sold will be used to support local children's hospitals

    Last year, 2.12 million foreign tourists visited Angkor Wat and the dozens of other temple ruins in sprawling Angkor Archeological Park, according to government statistics.​
     
  13. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    Baphuon
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    Baphuon, just a couple of hundred metes north of Bayon, is the second largest structure in the Angkor Archaelogical Park after Angkor Wat.

    Building started under King Sūryavarman I & was completed by his son Udayādityavarman II in 1066, it’s believed to represent Mount Meru & was dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva.

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    In the 13th century, the Chinese emissary Zhou Daguan, described it the temple as a copper tower, which may have been bronze.

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    In the late 15th century, the Baphuon was converted to a Buddhist temple. A 9 meter tall by 70 meter long statue of a reclining Buddha was built on the west side's second level.

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    The temple-mountain is situated on a high base, has a rectangular sandstone wall 425 x 1 metres & on the east side is approached along a 200 metres elevated sandstone walkway.

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    In 1908 Jean Commaille, first started clearing of the site; but 1943 a massive collapse occurred on the northern face & one quarter of the pyramid was lost in one disastrous night.

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    In 1960 Bernard Philippe Groslier, started a systematic dismantling of the temple, however this came to halt with war in 1971 & subsequently all records were lost or destroyed.

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    Work resumed again in 1995, & after a mammoth effort of many months, some 300,000 stones were identified and sufficiently matched up to enable a vision of what this amazing temple pyramid mountain once looked like.

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    Check out this 3D VDO presentation of what it may have looked like & get an idea of the massive size
    Wecome to the Simulcasting Video Player beta 2016

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    Check out other Angkor ruins on Google street view
    Street View Treks: Angkor Wat – About – Google Maps

    more to come..
     
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2016
  14. ianyonok

    ianyonok Ol'Timer

    A magnificent place indeed. Looks like you picked the right to visit too.
     
  15. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    There's so much to see & do it's confusing.
    This map from the tourist office helps a bit
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    There are trails leading everywhere to different ruins
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    big trees are dotted along the trail & ruins
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    The Phimeanakas
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    The Phimeanakas is a small, laterite Hindu temple in the shape of a three stepped pyramid. The name Phimeanakas translates to “Celestial Palace”. The temple located in the center of the Royal Palace enclosure was used by King Jayavarman VII as his private temple.

    Zhou Daguan, the Chinese diplomat who lived in Angkor for a year during the reign of King Jayavarman VII and kept extensive accounts, referred to the Phimeanakas as “the Golden Tower” located in the private living quarters of the King.

    Some archeologists believe an older structure existed much earlier at the site of the current structure, since an inscription dated 910 was found that mentions the dedication of a statue of Vishnu. Next to the temple are two pools, that may have been used for bathing or aquatic sports events.

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