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Published: June 21st 2005
This temple is part of a large complex, but is singular because of the many four sided heads.
I've gotten pretty good at counting in Khmai: muy, bee, buy... so Bee Day would mean my second day at Siem Reap. The temples we visited this morning were not as massive as Angkor, but just as majestic and full of mystery. One question I still can't find an answer to is if they stones were carved in place or, if they were carved somewhere else and assembles later at the temple site.
The day's itinerary included Bayon, Preah Khan, Ta Som, Neak Pean and then the Roluos Group, which are temples another 20km away. We made it to Bayon by 5:30 and had the place to ourselves, even the guards nuns and vendors weren't there yet. Nuns give out insence for a "donation" so you can offer insence to the altars they set up around the Buddhist statues. Most of the temples were originally Hindu, but many are now used as Buddhist temples where Hindu symbols like lingas are replaced with Buddhas. A "bayon" is a head with four faces, small replicas are easily found in the markets and even I fell for one. Preah Khan was the doorway temple for me, there were no long hallways, one doorway
Couldn't resist the joke. The Bayon has at least a hundred faces, according to our calculations.
led directly to another in an endless maze of small (maybe 8x8 foot) rooms, each with four doorways. There was lots of restoration work going on here, a cooperative project with the French government. Ta Som was "cute" in the sense that it had the beauty of the other temples, but not the commanding presence. Neak Pean had been a pool with statues in it and surrounding pools. I was very impressed to note how high the ground level was around it. Most temples stood up high above the ground, but Neak Pean was well below ground level. The amount of excavation that had taken place there was incredible. The Roluos Group was beautiful, but we were to hot and tired I'm afraid I didn't appreciate it as much as I might have otherwise. The stone work was very different there: the stones were much smaller, almost brick, and so it had deteriorated much more than some of the temples we visited earlier in the morning.
Tomorrow is more of the same. I'll try to do a blog again soon. Enjoy the photos!
PS: We treated ourselves to a nice restaurant that had apsara and other traditional
The saddest part about touring these beautiful temples is the obvious vandalisation. There is also lots of restoration work, but some things cannot be replaced.
dancing last night. I was very impressed by the dancers, it's not usually my sort of thing, but I loved it!
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