Tourist First

Travel notes and advice from around the world. Above, the daily flight from Managua at the San Carlos, Nicaragua, airstrip.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Cambodia: Faces of Time

At Bayon (BAH-yon), the temple at the heart of the ancient Khmer capital Angkor Thom, images of the Buddha populate the walls and towers of what is otherwise a Hindu temple.  Bayon, second in size and grandeur only to Angkor Wat, was built in the late 12th century by Jayavarman VII, the great Khmer king who embraced both of Cambodia's religions.  These timeworn faces have seen centuries of pelting rain, torrid heat and total neglect.

Like Angkor Wat, Bayon is designed as a Hindu temple: a tall central tower and four other towers representing the five peaks that are home to the Hindu gods, and a moat representing the Sea of Milk in Hindu mythology.  Below, columns support a 100-meter-long causeway that crossed the now-dry moat at Bayon.

The central tower at Bayon is in the middle of the photograph below. 

Cambodia: Letting Nature Win at Ta Prohm

Despite the fame of Angkor Wat, perhaps the most striking photos of Cambodia's ancient temples are those of Ta Prohm, evocative images of nature conquering the works of man.  This Buddhist temple, built around 1186, once had 39 towers. Giant banyon and other trees have consumed the complex's stone structures over the centuries.  Although other temples were similarly overtaken by nature, a decision was made to leave the trees in place here while at other temples the trees were removed and the stones reassembled.  Read more about Ta Prohm by clicking HERE.