Cambodia: The Spectacular Journey
Experience with me, Akshay Rao. the immense beauty of sandstone temple –city from grey dappled stones to warm peach apricot and brown structures.
Highlight of this tour was savoring the sunrise at spectacular Angkor Wat Temple which is UNESCO World Heritage Site and the largest religious building in the World.
Why chose Cambodia as a holiday destination?
If you want to see the largest Hindu temple of Angkor Wat temple complex at Angkor Cambodia, built for the King Suryavarman II in the early 12th century at his state capital city. It is the only one to have remained as a significant religious center since its foundation –first Hindu, dedicated to the God Vishnu, then Buddhist. Also if you want to experience the life of a village over the lake called as Floating Village near Siem Reap.
Our plan was a one night stay in Phnom Penh and three nights in Siem Reap, travel to Floating Village along the outskirts of Siem Reap and explore Angkor Wat.
Money exchange and SIM Card:
There are many counters for money exchange either by cash or by credit card with an extra of 2.5% of the amount and sim card is readily available with a good 3G Network to stay connected.
Traveling within City:
We hired a Lexus SUV for 4 days in 170$. Toh (+855 078303007 )
The journey was around 318.2 Kms and the road is bad not like the expressway. One the way, you come across people selling wild snakes. In 5$, you can buy 5 to 7 snakes.
First we went to Floating Village by boat (ticket is 20$ each) then to Siem Reap.
It was a joyful ride and we saw children playing on the trees and driving small boats and showing stunts to us…
Along the path you can see houses built on stilts, floating pigpens, flower market, floating Kampong Phluk school and basketball courts over the water, floating church and floating High Official Govt. Office of GENDAMERIE.
The Village has a school and a monastery where prayers were taking place, this was very tranquil and you can have soft drinks at KAMPONG PLUK FLOATING RESTAURANT there.
Boat Ride to Mangrove Forest:
You can even sit in small boats and see mangroves forest. Its very cheap and should not miss this. I was very scared initially to sit in it along with my camera and mobile for fear of being flipped in water.
The boats are narrow and one person per boat is allowed. Sit at the front tip of the boat so you can get a 360 degree view and click good photos too.
In this one hour ride, you get to see mangrove forest on both sides throughout.
About the people and culture in village:
Due to the lack of power lines in the middle of the lake every household use car batteries to power their cell phones and other electronics. The do not have a fresh source of drinking water. All the trash, scraps and waste is left in the water by villagers and tourists which pollutes it greatly and they boil the same water to drink and clean their dishes.
I completed this journey with a grief in my heart for the people of floating village and with lots of more questions in my mind and waiting for the time from where and when their journey of life will start with clean water to drink.
You need to travel another 33 kms to reach Siem . Along the way I suggest you halt over spas for foot massage.
I started my day with a beautiful sun rise which looks like an orange ball of fire over window and my visit to Angkor Wat starts by a symmetrical temple city that replicates the Hindu Universe.
After entering you see the stone temple – city from grey dappled stones to warm peach apricot color mixed with brown stones, the entrance has beautiful lotus pond.
And it consist of five towers symbolizing the peaks of Mount Meru home to the Hindu pantheon at the center of the universe, while its sanctuary walls represent the mountains at the edge of the world and its moat the cosmic ocean. The Temple from Entrance looks like heaven is here.
Divine Origin of Angkor Wat:
Legend has it that the Angkor Wat in Cambodia was built by a son of Hindu God Indra, Khmer King Preh Katomialia. One day he went to the heavenly palace of his father, where everything was perfect, including the barn. He loved the place reserved for the sacred animals so much that he decided to make its copy on Earth. And this is how a replica of Indra’s barn- Angkor Wat came to existence.
There is a Tower decorated with carvings of Apsara dancers to savor the remnants of the empire & appreciate the evidence of a great undertaking.
Some of the pillars in the galleries of this site have inscriptions written in Sanskrit and Khmer. And there is huge passage over the top from where the light is coming down.
This Temple is known for the 216 Giant faces of the King Jayavarman that look serenely down on the temple dwellers. Angkor Wat is also called a “funeral” temple: the reason for its construction was so that the king’s ashes could be placed there. To simply put it, the purpose of this complex is the same as that of pyramids of Egypt.
After visiting this temple, head to Ta Prohm which is located at the north east corner.
Ta Prohm is a beautiful temple bound by massive roots of huge trees. Back in the days it was very different: one could see walls decorated by precious stones. When in late 19th Cent. Ta Prohm was discovered by French, they decided not to conduct a full-scale restoration of the temple. The decision was made due to the fact that giant trees such as ficus and silk tree, were so merged with ancient walls that they eventually became whole. Construction on Ta Prohm began in 1186 AD. Originally known as Rajavihara (Monastery of the King), Ta Prohm was a Buddhist Temple dedicated to the mother of King Jayavarman VII.
A rare inscription at Ta Prohm provides statistics on the temple’s workers. Allowing for some exaggeration to honor the king, the inscription’s report of around 80,000 workers, including 2700 officials and 615 dancers, is still astounding.
Sadly, Ta Prohm was looted quite heavily in recent years due to its relative isolation, and many of its ancient stone reliquaries have been lost.
By the time you walk around on the grass at the rear of the temple and take shots, a couple of hours will have already passed.
Walk towards sunset and off to final stop on the grand tour,
If you have more time, see Phnom Bakeng , a temple on top of a hill which is famous for its sunset view and the view back down to Angkor Wat.
I wish I had more time but could only squeeze a couple of days , even in the short time I visited one of the most memorable and inspiring places on earth .
In other Words it is remarkable beyond words …
Author: Akshay Rao.
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