Skip to content

CAMBODIA PHNOM PENH TO ANGKOR WAT (PHOTOS)

September 2, 2011

ANGKOR WAT

Out of the brightest tree the moon became the morning sun,
And there again reflected on the dreams of everyone.
Out of the starlight night the telling of all our lives,
And racing faster than the Northwestern World.
Starpoint to signal our endlessness
Starpoint to signal this evermore
Starpoint to compass: We look to the North
To return to the centre: Angkor Wat.
(Cambodian Poetry)

From Phnon Penh we drove to Siem Reap, the town nearest to the Angkor Wat ruins.We stopped at several places before arriving at Siem Reap two days later.

Spean Preah Toeus Bridge

The Spean Preah Toeus (Spean Kompong Dkey) dates back to King Jayavaraman (late 1100’s) but even be older (900’s). It is 282 feet long by 52 feet wide, made of laterite and spans the Chhikreng River. It has distinctiive Naga (nine headed serpent) balustrades made from sandstone at each end.
NAGA OR SERPENT HEAD AT THE SPEAN PREAN TOEUS BRIDGE
THE BRIDGE WAS BUILT 1100 AD AND WAS PART OF THE KHMER ROAD SYSTEM,   ONLY 11 BRIDGES REMAIN OF 22 THAT WRE BUILT.
CART ON THE SPEAN PREA TOEUS BRIDGE

KAMPON THOM PROVINCE

Kampong Thom is Cambodia’s second largest province.

Kampong Pos Thom was the original name of the present province called Kampong Thom. Originally long time ago, at the dock of the Sen River next to a lake, there was a big cave with a pair of big snakes inside. The people living around this area usually saw these big snakes every Buddhist Holiday. Time after that, the snakes disappeared, and the people of that area called it Kampong Pos Thom. Then, only short words, Kampong Thom came later. During the FRENCH COLONY in Cambodia, the French ruled and divided Cambodian territory into provinces, and named them according to the spoken words of the people.

Kampong Thom was a powerful capital in south-east Asia during the FUNAN period. Kampong Thom has Prasat Sambour Prey Kok temple that was famous during the Chenla Era.

THE FOLLOWING ARE PICTURES OF A FISHING VILLAGE IN THIS AREA

A VILLAGE STALL SELLING FOOD
CHILDREN IN THE FISHING VLLAGE
WOMAN SELLING MELONS AND MANGOS
A VILLAGE STALL
A VILLAGE RESTAURANTKAMPONG THOM FISHING VILLAGE
A VILLAGE STORE
TYPICAL HOUSE IN THIS FISHING VILLAGE

PHOTO OF THE YOUNG GIRL SEEN ABOVR

HOUSE IN FISHING VILLAGE
ANOTHER VIEW OF THE FISHING VILLAGE
CHILDREN IN THE FISHING VILLAGE
CHILDREN IN THE FISHING VILLAGE
CHILDREN OF THE FISHING VILLAGE
CHILDREN IN THE FISHING VILLAGE

HOUSE IN THE FISHING VILLAGE

FISHING VILLAGE

SAMBOR PREI KUK

Sambor Prei Kuk

Sambor Prei Kuk is a very interesting site in which consists a collection of remains of some of the earliest Angkorian era temples which can be found in the province of Kampong Thom, 35km out of the main town, and about 120km in total from Siem Reap. There are 3 principal groups within the site as a whole – the Prasat Sambor (North Group) , Prasat Tao (Central Group), and Prasat Yeay Poeun (South Group). Each individual group houses some very impressive temple ruins throughout, depicting pre-Angkorian art, and this will most likely figure as one of the most impressive  for the true temple enthusiast who will certainly be in their element here, and with any luck, have the place to themselves. The temples hail back to the Chenla era of the 7th century and at this site is what remains of the Chenla capital, then Isanapura. Within each walled group are prasats in a varying state of decay, which focus around one main temple in the center. On each are carvings which also differ dramatically in terms of preservation and legibility. These carvings and temple designs are strikingly similar to many of the designs for the successive Angkor Temple and the Khmer artwork desplayed here is in the most part an absolute pretext for generations to come. However, a particular construction technique used which distinguishes the historical period from the Angkorian era is the use of an octagonal form for many of the prasats.

PRE ANGKOR TEMPLE BUILT IN THE 7TH CENTURY

DETAIL OF PRE ANKOR TEMPLE AT SAMBOR PREI KUK                                                                                                      DETAIL OF PRE-ANGKOR TEMPLE  SAMBR PREI KUK

PRE ANGKOR TEMPLE AT SAMBOR PREI KUK COVERED BY A STANGLER FIG TREE  ROOTS
PRE-ANGKOR TEMPLE AT SAMBOR PREI KUK
PRE-ANGKOR TEMPLE SAMBOR PRIE KUK
DETAIL OF LION IN FRONT OF THE PRE-ANGKOR TEMPLE SAMBOR PREI KUK
OFFERINGS AT A PRE-ANGKOR TEMPLE SAMBOR PREI KUK
PRE ANGKOR TEMPLE WITH BEAUTIFUL COLUMNS AND LINTEL                                                                                  PRE ANGKOR TEMPLE WITH BEAUTIFUL COLUMNS AND LINTEL

HINDU STATUE AT SAMBOR PREI KUK

WOMEN AT SAMBOR PREI KUK MAKING WICKER BAKETS
STRIPPING REEDS TO MAKE THE WICKER BASKETS
HOUSE IN SAMBOR PROVINCE. KAMPONG THOM
OUR HOME STAY HOSE IN KAPOMG THOM PROVINCE, NEAR THE SAMBORPREI KUK TEMPLES
OUR HOST AT THE HOME SAY IN KAMPONG THOM
SISTER-IN-LAW AND SON OF OUR HOST AT THE HOMESTAY IN KAMPONG THOM
TYPICAL HOUSE AND SHED IN THE VILLAGE AT KAMPONG THOM PROVINCE
CHILDREN IN THE VILLAGE AT KAMPONG THOM PROVINCE
YOUNG GIRL IN THE VILLAGE AT KAMPONG THOM PROVINCE
BASKETS ARE MADE AND SOLD TO THE TOURISTS AT SAMBOR OREI KUK TEMPLES
OUR YOUNG GUIDE AT SAMBOR PREI KUK TEMPLES

SIEM REAP  CAMBODIA IS THE NEAREST CITY TO THE ANGKOR WAT COMPLEX -The name Siem Reap literally means “Siam Defeated”. These days, however, the only rampaging hordes are the tourists heading to the Angkor archeology sites.Siem Reap has colonial and Chinese-style architecture in the Old French Quarter, and around the Old Market. In the city, there are traditional Apsara  dance performances, craft shops, silk farms, rice-paddy countryside, fishing villages and a bird sanctuary near the Angkor complex.

he name Siem Reap means the ‘Defeat of Siam’ —today’s Thailand—and refers to a century-old bloodbath, where the French Army massacred the residents of the Siamese Village and is now commemorated in stone in the celebrated bas relief carvings of the monuments.

In 1901 the French began a long association with Angkor by funding an expedition into Siam to the Bayon Temples. The French took responsibility for clearing and restoring the whole site. In the same year, the first tourists arrived in Angkor – an unprecedented 200 of them in three months. Angkor had been ‘rescued’ from the jungle and was assuming its place in the modern world.

Siem Reap was little more than a village when the first French explorers re-discovered Angkor in the 19th century. With the acquisition of Angkor by the French, in 1907, Siem Reap began to grow, absorbing the first wave of tourists. The Grand hotel Angkor  opened its doors in 1929 and the temples of Angkor remained one of Asia’s leading draws until the late 1960s, luring visitors like Charlie Chaplain and Jackie Kennedy, In 1975, the population of Siem Reap, along with that of the rest of the cities and towns in Cambodia, was evacuated by the communist Khmer Rouge and driven into the countryside.

As with the rest of the country, Siem Reap’s history (and the memories of its people) is coloured by spectre of the brutal Khmer Rouge Regime, though since Pol Pot’s death in 1998, relative stability and a rejuvenated tourist industry have been important steps in an important, if tentative, journey forward to recovery. With the advent of war, Siem Reap entered a long slumber from which it only began to awake in the mid-1990s.

Today, Siem Reap is undoubtedly Cambodia’s fastest growing city and serves as a small charming gateway town to the world famous heritage site of the Angkor temples. Thanks to those attractions, Siem Reap has transformed itself into a major tourist hub. Siem Reap nowadays is a vibrant town with modern hotels and architectures. Despite international influences, Siem Reap and its people have conserved much of the town’s image, culture and traditions.

SIEM REAP TEMPLE
OFFERINGS AND PRAYERS AT THE TEMPLE
TRADITIONAL CAMBODIAN TEMPLE MUSICIAN SIEM REAP
BEAUTIFUL GARDENS WITH GOVERNMENT BUILDING IN THE BACK GROUND SIEM REAP
THE RULING CAMBODIAN PEOPLE’S PARTY BUILDING WITH A SIGN OF THE THREE PRESENT RULERS OF CAMBODIA

Apsara Dance – Traditional Cambodian dance and dance

 Taditional Khmer Dance-Drama and Dance-Drama Performances

No visit to Cambodia is complete without attending at least one traditional Khmer dance performance, often referred to as ‘Apsara Dance’ after one of the most popular Classical dance pieces. Traditional Khmer dance is better described as ‘dance-drama’ in that the dances are not merely dance but are also meant to convey a story or message. There are four main modern genres of traditional Khmer dance: 1) Classical Dance, also known as Court or Palatine Dance (lakhon preah reach troap or lakhon luong); 2) Shadow theater (sbeik thom and sbeik toot); 3) Lakhon Khol (all-male masked dance-drama.); 4) Folk Dance (Ceremonial and Theatrical).

As evidenced in part by the innumerable apsaras (celestial dancers) that adorn the walls of Angkorian and pre-Angkorian temples, dance has been part of Khmer culture for well more than a millennium, though there have been ruptures in the tradition over the centuries, making it impossible to precisely trace the source of the tradition. Much of traditional dance (especially Classical) is inspired by Angkorian-era art and themes, but the tradition has not been passed unbroken from the age of Angkor. Most traditional dances seen today were developed in the 18th through 20th centuries, beginning in earnest with a mid-19th century revival championed by King Ang Duong (reigned 1841-1869). Subsequent Kings and other Khmer Royals also strongly supported the arts and dance, most particularly Queen Sisowath Kossamak Nearireach (retired King Norodom Sihanouk’s mother) in the mid-20th century, who not only fostered a resurgence in the study and development of Khmer traditional dance, but also helped move it out of the Palace and popularize it. Queen Sisowath Kossamak trained her grand daughter Princess Bopha Devi in the art of traditional dance from early childhood, who went on to become the face of Khmer traditional dance in the 1950s and 60s both in Cambodia and around the world. Many traditional dances that are seen in performances today were developed and refined between the 1940s and 1960s under the guidance and patronage of Queen Sisowath Kossamak at the Conservatory of Performing Arts and the Royal University of Fine Arts in Phnom Penh. Almost all of the Theatrical Folk dances that are presented in modern performances were developed during this period. Like so much of Cambodian art and culture, traditional dance was almost lost under the brutal repression of the Khmer Rouge regime of the late 1970s, only to be revived and reconstructed in the 1980s and 90s due, in large part, to the extraordinary efforts of Princess Bopha Devi.

Classical dance, including the famous ‘Apsara dance,’ has a grounded, subtle, even restrained, yet feather-light, ethereal appearance. Distinct in its ornate costuming, taut posture, arched back and feet, fingers flexed backwards, codified facial expressions, slow, close, deliberate but flowing movements, Classical dance is uniquely Khmer. It presents themes and stories inspired primarily by the Reamker (the Cambodian version of the Indian classic, the Ramayana) and the Age of Angkor.

Folk Dance come in two forms: ceremonial and theatrical. As a general rule, only Theatrical Folk Dance is presented in public performances, with Ceremonial Folk Dances reserved for particular rituals, celebrations and holidays. Theatrical Folk Dances such as the popular Good Harvest Dance and the romantic Fishing Dance are usually adaptations of dances found in the countryside or inspired by rural life and practices. Most of the Theatrical Folk Dances that are seen in performances today were developed at the Royal University of Fine Arts in Phnom Penh in the 1960s as part of an effort to preserve and perpetuate Khmer culture and arts.

Shadow theatre comes in two forms: Sbeik Thom (big puppets that are actually panels depicting certain characters from the story) and Sbeik Toot (small articulated puppets). The black leather puppets are held in front of a light source, either in front or behind a screen, creating a shadow or silhouette effect. Sbeik Thom is the more uniquely Cambodian, more formal of the two types, restricting itself to stories from the Reamker. The performance is accompanied by a pin peat orchestra and narration, and the puppeteers are silent, moving the panels with dance-like movements. Sbeik Toot has a far lighter feel, presenting popular stories of heroes, adventures, love and battles, with or without orchestra and with the puppeteers often doing the narration.

APSARA DANCERS
APSARA DANCERS
APSARA DANCER
APSARA DANCER
APSARA DANCER

ANGKOR WAT

Angkor Archaeological Park, located in northern Cambodia  is one of the most important archaeological sites in Southeast Asia.

Stretching over some 400 square kilometers, including forested area, Angkor Archaeological Park contains the magnificent remains of several capitals of the Khmer Empire of the 9th to the 15th centuries, including the largest pre-industrial city in the world. The most famous are the Temple of Angkor Wat and, at Angkor Thom, the Bayon Temple with its countless sculptural decorations.
Angkor Archaeological Park was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, in 1992. At the same time, it was also placed on the List of World Heritage in Danger due to looting, a declining water table, and unsustainable tourism. UNESCO has now set up a wide-ranging programme to safeguard this symbolic site and its surroundings.
Angkor itself has no accommodations and few facilities; the nearby town ofSiem Reap, is the tourist hub for the area.
The temples of Angkor are highly symbolic structures. The foremost Hindu concept is the temple-mountain, where the temple is built as a representation of the mythical Mount Meru: this is why so many temples, including Angkor Wat itself, are surrounded by moats, built in a mountain-like pyramidal shape and topped by precisely five towers, representing the five peaks of Mount Meru. The linga (phallus), representing the god Shiva, was also critical and while the lingas themselves have largely gone, linga stands (carved, table-like blocks of stone) can be found in many if not most rooms in the temples. There was also a political element to it all: most kings wanted to build their own state temples to symbolize their kingdom and their rule.
While early Angkor temples were built as Hindu temples, Jayavarman VII converted to Mahayana Buddhism c. 1200 and embarked on a prodigious building spree, building the new capital city of Angkor Thom including Bayon, Ta Prohm, Preah Khan and many more as Buddhist structures. However, his successor Jayavarman VIII returned to Hinduism and embarked on an equally massive spree of destruction, systematically defacing Buddhist images and even crudely altering some to be Hindu again. Hinduism eventually lost out to Buddhism again, but the (few) Buddha images in the temples today are later Theraveda additions.
One element that continues to mystify archaeologists is the baray, or water reservoir, built in a grand scale around Angkor: for example, the West Baray is a mind-boggling 8 km by 2.3 km in size. While it has long been assumed that they were used for irrigation, some historians argue that their primary function was political or religious. Today, the moat around Angkor and the West Baray still contains water, but the rest have dried up.
ANGKOR WAT ENTRANCE
ANGKOR WAT TEMPLE
ANGKOR WAT TEMPLE
ENTRANCE TO ANGKOR THOM
TERRACE OF THE ELEPHANTS AT ANGKOR THOM WERE TE RULERS WOULD REVIEW THE RETURNNG TROOPS.
TERRACE OF THE EEPHANTS
TA PROEM TEMPLE
BAS RELIEFS SHOWING THE KING WITH WARRIORS
BAS RELIEFS OF THE RETURNING KING
BAS RELIEFS ANGKOR WAT
ARCHERS IN BAS RELIEFS
APSARA BAS RELIEFS
APSARA BAS RELIEFS
FACES OF ANGKOR THOM
FACES AT ANGKOR THOM
TA PROEM TEMPLE COVERED BY A STRANGLER FIG USED IN THE FILM LARA CROFT TOMB RAIDER.”

TA PROEM TEMPLE COVERED BY A HUGE STRANGLER FIG
BANTEAY SREI TEMPLE (WOMEN’S CITADEL)
BANTEAY SREI TEMPLE (DETAIL)
TRADITIONAL CAMBODIAN MUSICIANS ND INSTRUMENTS AT THE EXIT OF ANGKOR WAT

PHOTOS BY:

LEONARD EPSTEIN

JANELLE BURGESS

Advertisements
No comments yet

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: