Ok, today wasn’t our best day.
We visited Angkor Thom. It’s the ancient city and last capital of the Khmer Empire with it’s own temple, Bayon, which is well known for it’s 216 faces. It’s the same face, repeated. Scholars think that the face is a combination of King Jayavarman VII, the God King who built Angkor Thom, and Buddha.
From Nathan: This temple mixes Buddhism and Hinduism. The middle tower has prayer rooms for both Hindu and Buddhist believers. I didn’t like this temple, because the smaller towers surrounding the big tower were too overpowering. It made the place look junky.
Junky… or one of the best preserved examples of ancient Khmer architecture dating back to the late 12th century. You be the judge.
Here’s the problem with the day: Angkor Thom is huge with multiple sites. Our tour guide was… thorough. Due to his exhaustive explanation, it took us more than 15 minutes just to get through the front gate. And then we hit the throngs of tourists. Taking a decent photo was almost impossible. Add in near 90-degree temperatures and more long-winded explanations from the guide… well, you see where this is going. We melted down. Aidan was first; the rest of us soon followed. We cut our visit short and headed back to the hotel.
From Aidan: Today was not my favorite. But I do have an understanding of the temples and appreciate them. I just don’t find temples that interesting, but other people do, and I respect that.
Is he running for office or what?
The day ended better than it began with swimming, complimentary snacks, free massages (I love this hotel!), and dinner along Pub Alley in Siem Reap.
Entrance to Angkor Thom, or Great city, last capital of the Khmer Empire
There are 54 Hindu god heads on the right side of the causeway leading to Angkor Thom.
A hand-dug moat surrounds Angkor Thom
One of the original stone figures
One of five entry towers to Angkor Thom
Inside view of entry tower
Aidan demonstrates how the Khmer people were able to move such massive stones.
Can you imagine moving each and every stone?!
Nathan, Neerav, Aidan, and Shellie at Bayon Temple inside Angkor Thom
Bayon was built in late 12th century to early 13th century by the King Jayavarman VII, dedicated to Buddhist.
Our guide, Yanos, shows us the lions that guard the temple entrance.
Carvings of apsaras. They represent peace and happiness in the Khmer culture.
Aidan, Nathan, and Neerav approach Bayon Temple.
Bayon boasts 54 stone towers.
Bayon has 216 of these faces, known as the Smile of Angkor.
The faces is thought to be a combination of King Jayavarman VII and Buddha.
King Jayavarman VII thought of himself as a God King. In other words, he had a big head.
Faces at every turn
Aspara dancers with tourist
Buddhists worshipping inside Bayon Temple
Aidan looking at one of the many faces
The statue on the right is supposed to be King Jayavarman VII’s queen.
The Khmer must have had small feet because the stairs here are narrow.
These Hindu symbols are frequently seen at the temples. If I explained them, I’d have to rate this blog, “R.”
For some reason, many Chinese tourists take photos like this at the temples – not just one or two – but entire photo shoots at one spot. They move a few feet away and do it again. It can get a bit annoying when you’re waiting to get your one shot.
The gallery depicts the story of Khmer battles.
The scene is not on just one piece of stone but over several bricks that fit together like a puzzle.
The detail is extraordinary.
Nathan in front of Bayan’s gallery
The gallery is enormous.
Bayan Temple at Angkor Thom
Aidan and Nathan at Bayan Temple
Baphuon, the royal palace, at Angkor Thom
At this point, Aidan has had it with temples.
Elephant trunks in stone
Part of Elephant Terrace, where the King spoke or gathered to watch sports or performances
The other part of Elephant Terrace
This is the entrance to Preah Khan, built by King Jayavarman VII to honor his father. He built Ta Prohm to honor his mother.
The guardians at Preah Khan. Some head were lost to nature; others were lost to thieves.
One of the god statues
Headless gods are on the left; headless demons are on the right as you enter the temple.
One of the demon statues
Demon at entrance to Prasat Preah Khan
Bayan Temple at Angkor Thom
Nathan prefers hammocks to temples.