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.
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.
During my maiden (and solo) visit to Angkor Wat, I glimpsed the majestic Cambodian structure at sunrise. Seeing the inky sky gradually awaken over the site and then illuminate it with a shrimp-colored hue was a magical experience. But in the years since, I’d read that the sunrise experience had lost some of its luster, due to massive crowds.
With time and patience the mulberry leaf becomes a silk gown. – Proverb
Throughout Cambodia, marketplace stalls overflow with mounds of beautiful shimmering silk. There’s everything from scarves and chic purses, to fabric designed for tailor-making shirts, dresses, and jackets.
As someone who is often tempted by these lovely accessories, I was eager to learn more about the silk-production process. So, we hopped on a tuktuk to travel to the Artisans d’Angkor Silk Farm, a social business. It’s just 16 km (about 10 miles) outside of Siem Reap, Cambodia, making a great day trip if you’re visiting the temples of Angkor.
For centuries, Cambodians have been producing silk and creating woven masterpieces with it.
Once the silk has been carefully extracted from the silk worm’s cocoon, it is washed, twirled on to bobbins and boil-dyed either via a natural or artificial coloring technique.
I’m not sure if the silk samples featured here were colored naturally or artificially. Either way, the resulting colors are vibrant!