I have some confessions to make. First, I am fond of adventure films. They bring me immense entertainment, they broaden my perspective about life, they take me to exotic locations and they make me see the beauty of the world through the eyes of the heroic protagonist/s. In short, the adventurers in those films are living the life I wish I have. Next confession, I like the film about this English lass that goes by the name of Lara Croft. I believe she is the ultimate epitome of girl power. Annoyingly beautiful, exasperatingly smart and amazingly bad ass. For my last and final confession, in my humblest, Hollywood induced opinion, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider aided the evolution of Cambodia’s Tourism by further exposing its ancient temples to the modern world through mainstream media. Ta Prohm is even dubbed by the locals as, Angelina Jolie’s temple. Now, that’s Hollywood’s magic right there. Don’t get me wrong though, I like adventure films, but I also take pleasure in history and culture. Tomb Raider might have shown me the exotic beauty of Cambodia, but history and culture brought me there.
I am from The Philippine, a South East Asian country and practically in the same region as Cambodia- apparently, I look like a Cambodian myself because some locals were speaking to me in their tongue- but no matter the proximity of the two countries, when I actually thought things would not be as foreign to me in comparison to the western tourists, I did feel like I was sucked into a time and space warp. Like I was transported back in ancient times. The temples… they rendered me speechless.
I was in awe of the intricate designs, the bas reliefs, the extensive garlands and the narrative scenes carved on the walls of the structures. The architectural features that are unique to Khmer Empire’s temples.
Allow me to be your heroine (minus the ass kicking that goes hand in hand with quests and adventures) and let me take you to some of the temples I had the pleasure of seeing.
162.2 hectares in measurement, Angkor Wat is considered to be the largest religious monument in the world. Now, ain’t that grand? Angkor Wat simply translates to City of Temples or Temple City built by Khmer King Suryavarman II in the 12th century.
The most unique feature of Bayon Temple is the 200+ smiling faces of Lokesvara, The Lord of Compassion according to Mahayan Buddhism belief. Built in the 12th century by King Jayavarman VII, Bayon became his official state temple.
A three-tiered temple built in mid 11th century as a dedication to Shiva- The Destroyer, one of the supreme deities of Hinduism. Baphuon became the state temple of King Udayadityavarman II.
Prasat Suor Prat
This series of twelve towers are symmetrically arranged. Laterite and sandstone were the materials used to construct these temples. Built in the late 12th century by Jayavarman VII. The function of these towers are still unknown.
Chau Say Tevoda
Built in 12th century to honor Hindu deities Shiva and Vishnu. The temple was badly neglected and was under restoration from 2000-2009. Chau Say Tevoda is right across Thommanon temple.
Like the nearby temple, Chau Say Tevoda, the single tower Thommanon was built for Shiva and Vishnu. The distinguishing feature of this temple are the carvings of a divine female called Devata. Built in the 12th century by Suyavarman II.
Dubbed by the locals as ‘Angelina Jolie’s temple’this scenic temple was built by Jayavarman VII in the 12th century. Due to neglect and abandonment Ta Prohm had to be restored. In fact, wooden walkways have been provided to prevent further damage that may arise since tourist are flocking to this majestic sight. Probably the most distinctive feature of Ta Prohm temple are the silk-cotton trees that have sprouted on and around the structures.
The temple was built on the late 12th century by King Jayavarman VII in dedication to his father. The temple is in a bad shape. Neglected, damaged and progressively being swallowed by the jungle as enormous trees have grown amidst the ruined structure. According to the local vendors, Ta Som doesn’t get a lot of visitors because it was not as popular as the other temples.
Although famous for its grand temples, there are more to Siem Reap, Cambodia than meets the eye. There’s the jungle, the night pubs, the food and the friendly locals that are able and willing to show you what their lovely piece of paradise has to offer. The way they did to me. The way I would do to you in my next blog. Tell then, travelers!