Monday, December 24, 2012

Siem Reap 5 Two More Temples (12/24/2012)

Monday, December 24, 2012
It's Christmas Eve! We started the day by waking early to see the sun rise over Angkor Wat. Although this was not part of the Viking agenda, they helped us hire tuk tuks for the ride out to the temple. Our driver even provided us with a flashlight!
Lots of lighted digital camera screens in the above photo, along with a bright Venus (?).
We spent a long time in a huge crowd waiting for the sun to rise:
The souvenir vendors were busy, as Robbie shows off some purchases:
Guess what? We had to leave before the sun actually appeared. Apparently the tuk tuks were hired for a certain time period, and no one had ascertained the exact time of sunrise.
We joked that we came the one day the sun did not rise, as we walked back along the causeway. Which segued into talk of the end of the Mayan calendar.
Ran into some of Santa's helpers:
So we saw the sun rise above some trees as we drove back to the hotel.

After breakfast we headed again into the jungles of Cambodia. First we went to Bantãy Srĕi, which means Women's Citadel, although the reason for this name is unknown. It is about 32 km/24 miles farther north than Angkor Wat. Bantãy Srĕi is the only building made with a red-pink sandstone and the only one not built by a king. It was consecrated  in the year 967 CE. It is almost miniature in scale and has been called the "gem of Angkor."
We started at the gopura (entrance enclosure) of the eastern gate, all that remains of an outer wall:
The pediment here shows the Hindu god Indra on his three-headed elephant.
Beyond the gate:
A woman is scything the tall grass:
A causeway crosses between two pools, leading to the outermost of three enclosures:
This temple did not have the successive raised galleries like a "temple mountain;" all remained at the same level.
The first wall had a double gate. As you can see, Bantãy Srĕi is known for its fine pediment carvings:
The inner gate here had a carving depicting the duel of the monkey princes Vāli and Sugrīva with Rāma intervening:
The southern library in the central enclosure:
Its pediment shows the Hindu god Shiva sitting on a mountain with his wife Uma in his lap:
Meanwhile the 10-headed demon king Ravana is shaking the mountain from below.
The central sanctuary has a corbelled brick roof:
And it is guarded by human figures with animal heads (all replicas).
In the rear of the temple are three towers:
In the central enclosure, visitors were walking on what was once the moat. The platform was made of a porous rock that the guide seemed to call lava rock:
It is actually laterite, a hardened soil rich in iron and aluminum that has undergone laterization (tropical weathering).
A youngster waits in a doorway:
The pediment of the western gate has brothers Sunda and Upasunda fighting over an apsara:
Just outside this temple was a group playing traditional Khmer music:
These musicians tend to be victims of land mines who are trained by the government to provide entertainment to tourists.
Everywhere, even where we took a break for a "happy room" (as the Program Directors called the restroom), there were signs of mourning for the former King Norodom Sihanouk:
He died in October 2012 in Beijing, where he was being treated by Chinese physicians.
Our Program Director Thien made sure that every family had a turn in the front seat of the motorcoach; now it was our turn:
Passed a primary school that is sponsored by Belgium:
Rice is taken to be threshed:
At some point we were transferred to shuttle buses to handle the unimproved roads in Angkor Archaeological Park. Our next stop was Ta Prohm, a Buddhist monastery and university established in 1186. The entrance gate had the four faces:
We were immediately besieged by souvenir vendors, including children:
She was selling something like a slide whistle.
We see very little statuary:
Ta Prohm is famous for being left to nature, where the trees have taken over:
In fact, if they were to try and remove some trees, the walls would fall down:
The tree above may be a Ceiba pentandra/Silk Cotton Tree/Kapok Tree.
Can you see a face peeking through the tree?
A gopura gate:
Its impediment:
A stegosaurus?
Tamiko & Kent in the photo op spot:
This tree appears to be a Tetrameles nudiflora.
These trees are so tall!
This root goes on and on:
These roots look like the Ficus gibbosa/Strangler Fig:
Tamiko in a root-bound doorway:
Some stone carving:
A root that looks like a giant arm reaching down:
A tree straddling a wall:
Trees with a rougher bark may be the Diospyros decandra/Gold Apple Tree.
A tree growing from the top of a structure:
Just try and remove this tree!
Another group of Khmer musicians:
Vendors of all sizes converge on the shuttle bus:
Next, Siem Reap 6 Good Works.

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