Hidden beneath a thick veil of forest cover for centuries the enigmatic temples of Angor Wat stood in silence waiting for their day in the sun.
But time always reveals to us what we need to see and know. Recently discovered by the French during their occupation of Cambodia, they were finally restored to their original glory and beauty.
Built by the kings of the time the temple was originally dedicated to the Hindu god Vishnu. A few centuries later the Buddhists started using the temple and do so till today.
The Angor Wat Temple complex in Cambodia is the world’s largest religious monument. They even have the image of the temple on their country flag.
The history of these temples are lost in the mists of time. New temples are being discovered as the search goes deeper into the jungles.
Carrying a backpack of memories from Vietnam, we swoop down at Siem Reap Airport, just in time to watch this glorious sunset. I am accompanied by 11 leading ladies eager to explore this temple town.
Sues-Day from Cambodia!!
The pagoda roofs and ready smiles of the Khmer people welcome us as we check into our hotel.
Designed using traditional Khmer architecture, we are hooked by the aesthetics of the hotel immediately.
The night is young at Pub street. Our first evening in Siem Reap is spent partying like there is no tomorrow. But tomorrow is special as we will walk back in time and revisit history.
It is only 10am as we approach a tree lined path. The sun shows no mercy assaulting us with heat and sweat. All of this is overlooked as the thick tree covers part, to reveal the spectacular Angor Wat Temple. These ancient rocks pieced together by human hands seem to be the work of gods.
The temple towers unfold itself like a lotus flower. These weather beaten stones tell us stories of gods and goddess, a timeless saga from a forgotten period.
Our temple run continues at Angor Thom, the temple of faces. 54 gods and demons guard the gates to this temple.
Looking in three directions,the faces seem to benevolently smile down on us. Legend says that these are faces of the then ruling kings made immortal in stone. As the light turns and changes the expressions seem to change to happy, angry, serene or sad.
Lara Croft beckons us at the Ta Prohm temple complex. The movie Tomb Raider featured this temple complex, making it a glamorous attraction.
The silk cotton trees stand tall and proud. They are the guardians of this temple, and have protected her for hundreds of years.
Today she is ageing and crumbling, but held by the sturdy roots of the silk cotton trees, Ta Prohm stays strong.
Pink stone adorned with elaborate and decorative carvings is the highlight at the Banteay Srei temple complex.
It is said that women sculptors were hired to carve and sculpt these pink stones. The intricacy found in the stonework narrates a story of patience and love which is a common quality in most women 🙂
Although petite in size as compared to the others, this temple holds her own splendor.
All of Cambodia seems to have gathered at Phnom Bakheng temple to watch the sun set.
As the sun dropped into the horizon the sky was drenched with the color of champagne and tequila. Liquid gold oozed out from the sun and changed to rose at the far end of the evening sky.
Like a monk in meditation the sunset had a serene effect on us.
A long bus ride lulls us to sleep. We are on our way to Tonle Sap Lake. Floating villages, churches and schools is a way of life here.
Sitting in a rickety canoe, without any life jackets we sail across the lake with trepidation and fear. We discover later that South East Asia’s largest freshwater lake is only knee deep due to the summer and our fears turn into laughter.
They move and glide like goddesses. Their graceful hand gestures and eye movements weave beautiful stories regaling the audience. The hypnotic dance of the Apsaras holds our attention and admiration, followed by rounds of applause.
Watch Video – Here
The Apsara dance is a ballet performance that showcases Cambodian history and culture. Stories of daily life as well as mythological events are narrated through this dance form. Relishing Khmer cuisine and watching this ballet is a popular way to spend an evening out in Cambodia.
Two our my favorite things to do in Siem Reap was riding the Tuk Tuks and exploring the night market.
Fashionable tuk tuks and their friendly owners are always ready to transport us anywhere, anytime, a must try experience.
The night market is buzzing and brimming with souvenirs, silks and junk that money can buy. Again our shopping is never ending…..
It is our last day in Cambodia and we have a sneaky taste of ‘Happy Pizza’ to celebrate our travels and friendship.
The temples of Cambodia are an artistic expression created centuries ago. This country also has a dark past of genocide and suffering.
It is imperative that this hand crafted heritage be preserved for the coming generations so they can see that even though man is capable of violence and killing, he is also capable of creating beauty from dust and stone.
An offbeat holiday ends, but gifts us a lifetime of memories and friendship.
For stories about my travel to Vietnam read – Here