Friday, March 22, 2013

More Ruins at Angkor Thom

The Baphuon Temple, built in the 11th century, was at the heart of the ancient royal city of Angkor Thom.   Originally dedicated to the worship of the Hindu god, Shiva, it was later remodeled in the 15th century to include the largest Buddha sculpture in Cambodia (no longer there).  It is a 3-tiered temple, approached by a long, raised roadway which looked like it may have once had water in a moat.  It was a very steep climb up to the higher levels.  

See the tiny people down below?  This place was mammoth!
Courtyard?  It looks like a moat!

This temple joined the southern enclosure of the Royal Palace and because it was built on sandy fill and was of such immense size, it was unstable throughout history.  The most recent renovations were finished in 2011.  And we're allowed to climb all over it!

It looks like it was built out of sugar cubes.  It's amazing that it still has any stability at all.

The trees in this area were huge.  Some had been "tapped", leaving a large hole.  Others had roots that came above the ground.  And still others were growing over the walls and bricks.

Next we saw Phimeanakas or Sky Palace, built to honor Shiva, the destroyer, at the end of the 10th century.  It was later rebuilt in the shape of a 3-tiered pyramid with a tower on top.

By this time, it was really hot, about 94F and very humid, and we had climbed up and around 3 previous temples.  Looking at that daunting staircase, we decided we'd just get photos from below!

These statues on the corners were interesting.
We walked through the U-shaped structure known as the Terrace of the Leper King, named after a 15th century sculpture of Yama, the god of death, found on the site with moss on it, making it look like leprosy.  It is thought by some to have been used as a royal cremation site.  It had wonderful sculpture in the rock faces of the walls. 

Right next to this ruin is the Terrace of Elephants, so called because of all the elephants marching along the front of it.

The 350m-long Terrace of Elephants was used as a giant reviewing stand for public ceremonies and served as a base for the king's grand audience hall.

Terrace of Elephants 
The grounds were covered with people trying to make a living from the tourists--selling food, hawking clothing, rides on an elephant, rides in a tuk tuk, beads, scarves, toys, and ornaments made from plant leaves.  I got some cheap (both meanings apply here) clothes and some ornaments for my Christmas tree.  There were also many children who begged--nothing for sale, just an outstretched hand and some mumbled words that their parents had taught them.  It was sad to think of this miserable life for the children, but things are getting better for the Cambodians, and hopefully their standard of living will improve with the better economy.  It sure tugged our heartstrings.  You want to help them all.
She's collecting empty water bottles.

Sticks for a toy
Next stop:  Tonle Sap and the floating village

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