Cambodia

An Afternoon at Angkor Wat

In early 2009, I visited Cambodia’s majestic Angkor Wat at sunrise. Seeing the inky sky gradually awaken over the structure and then illuminate it with a shrimp-colored hue was a magical experience. During our most recent visit to Cambodia, however, we decided to arrive at a more gentlemanly hour via Siem Reap’s red clay-like roads and a chugging tuktuk

*** 

Angkorian Dress-Up in Cambodia

The silken costumes with gold embellishments transform these Angkor Wat models into winged creatures, apsaras, and other mythological beings from Angkorian times. They position themselves in a prime location within Cambodia’s famed Angkor Wat complex.

***

Bridging a Divide on the Backroads of Cambodia’s Takeo Province

It was on the dusty backroads in Cambodia’s Takeo Province that a well-travelled toy fish found its way to a new home. To get there, the little fish literally had to bridge a divide. One morning, we packed our borrowed bikes’ baskets with bottles of water and a purple plush toy. The toy fish, with its big eyes and soft fur, had travelled with us for two months in our limited and cramped luggage space – from Germany, to Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and finally, Cambodia. 

***

The Devatas and Apsaras of Angkor Wat in Black & White

The 1,796 female figures rendered in sandstone on Angkor Wat’s pillars and walls have weathered a harsh tropical environment and war for more than 800 years. I was first struck by the beauty and individuality of these devatas in 2009, during my first visit to Angkor Wat, which is the largest religious building in the world. During a subsequent visit to Cambodia last month, I was just as intrigued. 

***

A Landmine Awareness Photography Exhibition in Phnom Penh

While walking along Phnom Penh’s riverside, we happened upon a landmine awareness photography exhibition. This child’s large eyes, and curious gaze caught my attention. His lively, peaceful spirit contrasted sharply with the cruel creations depicted in the images at which his father was intently gazing. 

***

Silk Route: Visiting the Seat of an Ancient Art

Throughout Cambodia, select marketplace stalls overflow with mounds of beautiful shimmering silk comprised of scarves, fabric for tailor-making shirts, dresses and jackets, and chic purses. As an admirer who is often tempted by these lovely items, I was eager to learn more about the production process. So, we hopped on a tuktuk to travel to the Artisans d’Angkor Silk Farm, just 10 miles (16 km.) outside of Siem Reap, Cambodia. 

***

A Return to Angkor: Exploring Breathtaking Bayon Temple

As you wander through Bayon Temple’s wedding cake-like levels, it’s likely you’ll feel as though you’re being watched — and indeed you are — by the 216 immense faces that adorn the 54 towers of this Angkorian jewel.

Built in the late 12th Century, Bayon was established as the temple for King Jayavarman VII. It is believed that the statues with the Mona Lisa-esque smiles were modeled after King Jayavarman himself, perhaps married with the face of the Buddha. It took over a century to construct Bayon. 

***

A Return to Angkor: The Tree-Adorned Temple of Ta Prohm

Regarded as one of Angkor’s most atmospheric temples, Ta Prohm is perhaps best known as the location in which the movie Tomb Raider was filmed (admittedly, I have not seen it).

The circa 12th century temple’s gnarly, towering trees are at times indistinguishable from the stone walls, pillars, and foundations that they are devouring. The setting is mysterious; if you have ever pondered what would happen to man’s structures if left tended only by Mother Nature for several centuries, Ta Prohm illustrates the answer well. 

***

Stupas & Other Khmer Architectural Elements in Angkor Wat’s Neighborhood

In Angkor Wat’s shadows, this pagoda is likely overshadowed by her formidable neighbor. But the pagoda’s stupas, Khmer painting, and intricate facial details are lovely – situated on a compound just outside of Siem Reap, Cambodia. 

***

Threshing Rice on Christmas Day in Cambodia

T’was Christmas Day in Cambodia… The sun shone brightly overhead. Golden grass and towering palm trees danced in the strong gusts of wind. Cows mooed and baby chicks tiptoed about. Though we were far from our family and friends, who are scattered throughout the world, we yearned to have a special holiday.  And indeed we did, surrounded by our new Cambodian friends, as well as an adventurous, young, and kind couple from France.

***

Vignettes from Phnom Penh’s Riverside

Carrying salmon and ivory-colored lotus blossom offerings, the Buddhist worshippers entered the crowded courtyard in front of a small Phnom Penh riverside temple. Once inside, they left their spiritual contributions. The green, pink and white pile of offerings inside was apparently growing so vast that officials periodically tossed the decorated green coconuts and buds through an open window – landing into a receptacle outside the tiny temple. I wondered where the spiritual buds in the growing pile would next journey having had short-lived residency inside the temple?

About these ads