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Friday, 25 December 2009

Angkor What!? - Part Four- A Royal Aria

"Now I'm pickin up the pieces of the heart that you've been breaking, And I'm down on my knees just to try and find them all and when I get up one long last look is all that I'll be taking"
Standing Tall - Lorrie Morgan

After the Siem Reap adventure, it was about time we went to see what we went all the way to Cambodia for...


Yup! We're finally here! The picture above was at the front entrance of the temple. It' still in good shape even after 500+ years of standing.

The tale of Angkor Wat is really way, way, way beyond the textbook. It's nothing like the Great Wall of China, the Eiffel Tower or anything like it. It was a spiritual journey, and it was built not to show off amazing power to the world, but out of love.

When I say that it was built out of love, I don't mean by the kind of love as seen in the construction of the Taj Mahal. The Taj was built out of the romance o f a couple. To be exact, a prince and a commoner.  The death of the beloved shook th prince so much that he ordered the construction of the Taj as a tomb for her body.

(The fluid panorama above is slightly distorted bot due to the architecture of Angkor Wat, but a shaky cameraman's hands and a cheap camera)

Above is a bas relief on the walls of the temple. It portrays the story of the kingdom of Angkor and what happened to it. The hierarchy was simple. King on top, slaves below, people in the middle.

It also demonstrates how the Chinese migrants made their way into the country and lived with the people of Angkor. It was like a timeline of life in the Kingdom.

Back to the topic of why the Wat was built. Yes, the love story.

The king at that time loved his kingdom too much, and was a very faithful Hindu. So much that he removed quite a number of Buddha statues from the temple and replaced them with the Linggam, the Hindu spiritual symbol of the penis. It is believed that it would grant fertility for the people of Angkor and also bring about a bright future. There were also many holy water springs erected at different points of the temple, some destroyed, some intact.

Every man and woman has a limited time on earth, so the King knew that his time would come someday, so he ordered the construction of Angkor Wat to be his tomb. He gave precise orders to have his ashes placed dead below the statue of Vishnu on the top floor of the main tower. Then when he passed on, his ashes were placed as ordered, and at that instant, the eyes of the statue of Vishnu, shich was once closed, opened. It was to show that the king was living together with Vishnu, watching over the kingdom of Angkor from the afterlife.

And that was how the kingdom lived on in prosperity.

This was a pretty neat trickshot that our tour guide did for me. The smiling Buddha there is almost 5 metres away from where I'm standing, and it's the only remaining Buddha structure that permits you to take such a picture from a safe location.

Angkor Wat feature a magnificent structure that represents the 35 levels of Heaven, but sadly,this is what it looked like...

It was closed for restoration...sad huh? They charge us 20 U$D to enter Angkor Wat and this is what we get...and that's full fare. If it was discounted then I would be ok, but heck? We come all the way to Cambodia and pay a full fare to see restoration work!?

Nevermind. Idiots will be idiots.

Worse, I found out that this restoration was to turn back the clock to correct a cheap and careless restoration done years ago...

So that's about it from Angkor What!? Thanks for reading!


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