Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Day 2. The Temple Run Tour

We started our day early, woke up at 4AM and started our troop to this famous structure. We fell in line and waited eagerly for Mr. Sun to come out. I’ve done it once in Kiltepan, Sagada but the throng of tourists here are unparalleled!

Humanity's craving to glimpse heaven for a while. 

The sunrise and the gaping massive crowd are just overwhelming. Tourists come here in thousands. I am amazed by the sturdiness of this century-old structure and how withstand not just battles but foremost, the onslaught of tourists. 

A day tour will cost you $20 including a free photo-op at the entrance. Hightech sila teh. And we assure you, one will be enough exercise for your legs. It is definitely Temple Run game in reality. Dili lalim mubaktas, musaka ug mag-ambak-ambak sa mga temple oi! 

Splendid reflection snapped at noon
I love the movement of the monk's robe. Saw him when we're about to leave Angor Wat.
Old buildings like this make me emotera.
I was about to walk when this young lady with her mom came.
This shot reminded me of the story about Narcissus and the Goddesses. 
Funny combination for a table in a resto at Angkor Wat

This kid along other kids were catching fishes in the mud.
He gladly posed for us. 

Angkor is undergoing renovation as most of the bass relief has been touched by thousands of humans and owing to climactic changes too. There are already cracks in the wall drawing. The tour for Angkor Wat itself will take you a half day. And it’s a hot day so prepare to have those towels and handkerchief and your water.We decided to take our lunch at the resto near the Leper King Terrace. Nakim knows the owner of the resto and he helped us out ordering local dish.

At the entrance of Ta Phrom

After eating, we continued the tour. We went to Prasat Ta Phrom  or the Jungle Temple. Or as a new branding for moviegoers, it is now more known as the Tomb Raider Temple, where Angelina Jolie shot her action-packed movie. This is where nature has taken over the structures. There is also a hospital built here. There is a sense of co-existence yet an eerie hostility  of struggle between the trees and the bricks, not measured by minutes but in centuries.


Notice the faces in the towers.

Bayon Tempe. It links heaven and earth. 

mirror image


Angkor Wat is a whole complex of three temples built to honor Vishnu. It is first a Hindu temple and later on, became a Buddhist one. It is a symbol of the country, and appears on its flag. The Angkor Thom complex covers around 400 square kilometers  with temples, hydraulic structures like the reservoirs, basins, dikes and communication routes. The Angkor Wat, Bayon, Preah Khan and Ta Phrom show us the grandeur of Khmer architecture. It was built by King Jayawarman II and served as the capital of the Khmer Empire until the 15th century.

It is named as Angkor from the Sanskrit word meaning City or Capital. King Jayawarman II declared himself as the “universal monarch” or “God King”.  But there was a rebellion in 1431 by Ayutthaya causing its population to migrate. The influence of the Khmer empire stretched up to the border of neighboring country called as Siam (Thailand). If you have been to Ayutthaya in the Chao Phraya River Plain of Thailand, you will notice the similarities with the Angkor. Ayutthaya became a new central power while Angkor’s central empire control diminished. The similarities in both structures showed slavery has a role. One reference in Ayutthaya wrote that it was migrant Khmer peasants and slaves who worked on Ayutthaya, explaining the influence.

Then we continued the walk to the Bayon Temple where you can find the temple heads carved in 54 towers. This temple is dedicated for the Buddhists wherein you can find the four faces of the Bodhisattva (enlightened being) Avalokiteśvara (“Being who looks down” and it can either be male or female). Its eyes are downcast, bearing broad forehead, big nostrils and thick lips that curl, making that half-smile. It is also the center of the Angkor Thom complex and serves as the “symbolic link between heaven and earth.

There’s a long line of walls and another temple before going to the Leper King’s Terrace. I am too exhausted while Nina and Xyza want to explore the outskirts. I decided to walk alone and go directly to the King’s Terrace. There are a lot of temple workers who were taking their break. Most do not speak in English but one old woman worker grimaced when one tourist came up at the stairs with her plunging sleeves top and bra already showing. She motioned to her companion and her companion shook her head. 

The last stop for me is the Leper King Terrace. Why the name? It refers to the statue of a Leper King at the terrace, seated with his right knee raised. It is naked and it is considered unusual in Khmer art. Some historians said it is Javanese-style.Is the king a leper? One account said that Jayavarman VII was a leper that is why he built a lot of hospitals during his reign. But there is no historical record for such, while other accounts the said figure represents the God of Wealth, Kubera. 

I am still waiting for those two and Nakim is nowhere in sight. So I just followed a path at the back and I chanced upon a local artists who’s doing his finishing touches for his sunset artworks. I tried conversing with him but he said, “no no English!” and pointed to her daughter-in-law for the prices if I want to purchase his work. I said I don’t have much money and I don’t have a house yet where to hang those lovely artworks. I just sat there and looked  while he painted. He keep on smiling and laughed. He motioned for me to come closer and look at the details. I am amazed by how he mixes the colors. He said (through his daughter-in-law translating) that he draws from memory of the Angkor Thom and adds other details. He grew up watching the sunrise and sunset there and never left the place. He smiled saying he hopes his grandson will be able to see  the magnificent view from his childhood.

I thanked him for his time and walked to find a shade while waiting for Nakim. Found him under the tree with an English dictionary at hand. He is polishing his English language skills, he said with a laugh. We talked about the next day’s plan and other options. We had enough of the temples and he recommended going to the Silkworm Farm. It’s quite far and that would entail additional rent for his tuktuk. And I prefer to check out the downtown area. He suggested we can go to the Tonle Lake, artisan shop then downtown tour. I said that’s brilliant. I just sat at the back of the tuktuk and watched people passing by.  I’m seeing kids on their bikes heading home after school. The dogs are lazing around, their fur already color red from the dust.

The two gals arrived and our day does not end here. We went back to the Angkor to catch the sunset. The sunset is usually depicted in artworks and postcards setting behind the main Angkor Wat temple. The sun rises there, yes so the sun sets at the other side, in front of the temple, at the bridge and another inland lake.   Looking at the sun on its last hours of splendor, changing the colors in the horizon..that's one great way to end this real Temple Run scene. 

We reserved a dinner buffet and Apsara show at the Amazon Angkor Restaurant. The owner of the Happy Guesthouse brought us the (and also picked us up at the resto. Very humble guy!) It is for $10 for a buffet dinner to serve a large group of tourist. The chicken amok is great and they also serve other dishes like Japanese and Italian. The food is not shabby nor super exceptional. But the dance is another story. .

The Apsaras, is a female spirit of the clouds and waters in the Hindu and Buddhist mythology. It is a dance- drama. It is a flowing sensuous dance with feathery movement. It is well restraint with the controlled knee and toes and splaying of the fingers. While doing this, the neck and the shoulder remain erect, giving a sense of serenity.

Also apsara is everywhere in the temples. The dances were used to hold at the temples too. But now, well because of tourism it is now in the restaurants and marketplaces.  They also performed theatrical traditional dances like the good harvest dance (like our own “maglalatik”) and the romantic fishing dance depicting the rural life of Cambodia. 

We went back to the hostel with big grins on our faces.



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