Tuesday, November 20, 2018

14th November 2015 - Angkor Wat

This entry shows photos from Angkor Wat which is the largest religious monument in the world.  Although Angkor Wat is the jewel in the Angkor temple crown my heart was stolen by Angkor Thom.

Angkor Wat was constructed during the reign of Suryavaman II who reigned from 1113 AD to around 1150 AD.

Angkor Wat is dedicated to the Hindu god Vishnu.  It was abandoned some years after Suryavarman II’s death, when Jayavarman established a new state capital at Angkor Thom.  However, there has been a small population living within the Angkor Wat area almost up until the present day.  The moat protected it to a certain extent from being totally overtaken by the jungle and there were monks living in and around the temple for many years, as well as the walls providing some shelter for refugees during the civil war.

My last picture is one of Ruth and I with Angkor Wat in the background.

Ruth’s and my trip to Vietnam and Cambodia was incredible in so many ways.  We saw beautiful palaces and temples but also much of man’s inhumanity to man.  Also some of the culture was alien to us however I hope for things to change in the future.
The pace of the trips usually left little time to recover.  I found it hard going though interesting.  The Buddhist temple trip was 4.5 hours most of which was spent walking in the hot sun.  I fell behind on doing the blogs because I was just so tired.  It was not a trip for someone with limited mobility.  Thankfully Thanh Duc, one of the tour directors helped me expand on what I could have seen without assistance.
I am so pleased I had the experience to visit Vietnam and Cambodia.  The trip however was an experience rather than a holiday.

14th November 2018 - Angkor Thom

This entry shows photos from Angkor Thom.  Sometimes Angkor Thom is thought to be just another temple.  Actually it is a whole city.  “Angkor” means “city” and “Thom” means big.  Angkor Thom was once was a great Khmer city and includes a whole host of temples and sites of historical interest.  It’s population was around 1 million people.

Angkor Thom was founded by King Jayavarman VII, one of the most important figures of the Khmer Empire.  He was a Buddhist, and during the time of his reign oversaw a wholesale conversion of the Khmer people from Hinduism to Buddhism.  He was a great believer in public works, creating schools, hospitals, and reservoirs.
Angkor Thom remained the capital of the Khmer Empire throughout its decline – and was probably fully abandoned in the 16th century.  It is now, as with the other temples in the Angkor Park, a World Heritage site.

One final note about Angkor Thom is that the Angelina Jolie version of the film "Tomb Raider" was filmed here.

14th November 2018 - Bayon Temple

Today was the highlight of our trip when we saw some of the Angkor temple complex near Siam Reap.
Angkor , Khmer for Capital City, was the capital city of the Khmer Empire for approximately the 9th to 15th centuries. Angkor was a megacity supporting at least 0.1% of the global population during 1010–1220.
 The word Angkor is derived from the Sanskrit nagara , meaning "city".  The Angkorian period began in AD 802, when the Khmer Hindu monarch Jayavarman II declared himself a "universal monarch" and  “god-king”.  A Khmer rebellion against Siamese authority resulted in the 1431 sacking of Angkor by Ayutthaya, causing its population to migrate south to Longvek.
The ruins of Angkor are located amid forests and farmland near modern-day Siam Reap city.  The temples of the Angkor area number over one thousand, ranging in scale from nondescript piles of brick rubble scattered through rice fields to the Angkor Wat, said to be the world's largest single religious monument.  Visitors approach two million annually, and the entire temple complex, including Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom, is collectively protected as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
This blog entry shows photos from the Bayon Temple which was the state temple of Jayavarman VII.  It epitomises the creative genius and inflated ego of Cambodia’s most celebrated king.  Its 54 Gothic towers are decorated with 216 gargantuan smiling faces of Avalokiteshvara, and it is adorned with 1.2km of extraordinary bas-reliefs incorporating more than 11,000 figures.

This last picture shows collapsed masonry that has been catalogued in the hope of rebuilding a particular temple structure.

Monday, November 19, 2018

13th November - Trip to Siam Reap

Today our river cruising came to an end.  We had a five hour coach trip to Siam Reap where we would stay while visiting the temples of Angkor.  The Angkor group of temples, built in the 12th century, are the oldest ones in Cambodia.  Clay bricks were the main building material. They are beautiful in design, structure and atmosphere.
En route we visited the Santuk stone cutting village.

Our last stop was at the Naga Bridge built in the 13th century.  We could walk over it however the bus had to go another route.

It was a relief to get to the hotel.  After unpacking Ruth and I tried out the seawater pool.

12th November 2018 - Wat Hanchey

Wat Hanchey is a hilltop complex of temples where novice monks are trained.  Most people walked up the hill to the temple complex however I joined some others in going via tuk tuk.

We asked questions through our guide to an 11 year old novice monk.  It was obvious which questions he was happy to answer and those he was not.

The temple complex includes a number of strange fruit and animal statues.

There were some excellent Mekong views from Wat Hanchey.

In the afternoon I decided to make use of the pool again.

Sometimes I didn’t have to go far to see local life.  The following picture of a fisherman was taken from my cabin.  He wasn’t very successful in catching fish.

The day ended with a special dinner for us to say farewell to the cruise portion of our holiday.  Most of the people shown are British however two Australians snuck in and my friend Ruth is now a Canadian citizen. 

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

11th November 2018 - The Killing Fields and the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum in Phnom Penh

We started our day with a trip to one of the Killing Fields.  The Cambodian Killing Fields are a number of sites in Cambodia where collectively more than a million people were killed and buried by the Khmer Rouge regime, during its rule of the country from 1975 to 1979, immediately after the end of the Cambodian Civil War (1970–1975).  There was a stupa which is a dome-shaped building erected as a Buddhist shrine filled with the skulls of those killed on the site we visited.

Also the site contained mass graves with bones and remnants of clothes showing.  The whole visit was very upsetting and many sights are not for repeating here.

Afterwards we visited the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum in Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia.  This museum chronicles the Cambodian genocide.  The site is a former high school which was used as Security Prison 21 by the Khmer Rouge regime during its rule.  From 1976 to 1979, an estimated 20,000 people were imprisoned at Tuol Sleng.  Tuol Sleng means "Hill of the Poisonous Trees" or "Strychnine Hill".  Tuol Sleng was just one of at least 150 torture and execution centres established by the Khmer Rouge, though other sources put the figure at 196 prison centres.  On July 26, 2010, the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia convicted the chief of Tuol Sleng Prison, Kaing kek Iew, for crimes against humanity and grave breaches of the 1949 Geneva Conventions and sentenced him to life imprisonment.  Our guide told us of many inhumanities again not for repeating here.

We met a survivor of Tuol Sleng.  He was keen for the world not to forget what had happened in Cambodia.

In the afternoon, back at the ship, there was an Armistice Day gathering as it was Remembrance Day.  In Australia people wear rosemary instead of poppies so sprigs of rosemary were handed out.  Some poetry from the WW1 poets was read out and then we observed two minutes of silence.  The gathering was completed by the handing out of Anzac biscuits.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

10th November 2018 - Royal Palace in Phnom Penh and silk industry of Koh Ouk Nha Tey

This morning we went by coach to the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh.  It was very beautiful though I struggled with walking for over two hours in a temperature of 89F heat.

In the afternoon we cruised up the river to the island of Koh Ouk Nha Tey.  On the way we saw some Brahmin cattle.

The last activity of the day was seeing the silk industry processes from cocoon to finished silk pieces.

Naturally the silk tour finished at a shop and I treated myself to a scarf.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

9th November 2018 - Oudong Buddhist monastery and Raffles Le Royal Hotel

This morning we went to the Oudong Buddhist monastery.

First we went to the Oudong Pagoda where the Buddhist monks perform their rituals.  Our group was given a blessing by the monks which included them tossing flower petals at us.

The Buddhist monks seemed to well looked after by the community but the nuns seem to have a harder life.  We visited the nuns’ dining hall and our guide also spoke to one of the nuns.

Afterwards we visited a silversmith village.

In the afternoon we went by tuk tuk for a tour of the Raffles Le Royal Hotel.  At the end of the tour we were served with high tea and a Femme Fatale cocktail.  Unfortunately I forgot to bring my camera on the trip.

Before dinner we were given a display of dancing by the Cambodian Student and Children’s Organisation.

Today was the anniversary of Cambodia gaining freedom from the French so we were able to watch the city’s firework display from the top deck.