Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Prasat Bayon and Baphuon


Located in the city of Angkor Thom is another temple that perhaps rivals the Angkor Wat in terms of its grandness – the Prasat Bayon.  Prasat, according to some of my research for this blog is a Khmer term for a temple complex or a central shrine.  This Buddhist temple is basically known for its massive carved faces that seems to look down upon you with that mysterious smile.   Again, some writings indicate that the four faces in the tower signify the omnipresence of the king (King Jayavarmann VII) and those thick lips curled upward represent the “Smile of Angkor”.   There were elephant rides that can take you to this majestic temple but we took the service of a tuktuk driver and entered from the gates of the east. 

Honestly, you’ll arrive at the Bayon temple and you just simply ask yourself, “How am I gonna tackle this temple?”  Hahaha!!!  I stood there for a few minutes above really stunned at its grandiose. 

Inside, it feels like you’re entering a maze.  It looks very complicated with its galleries and steps.  But thankfully there were arrows provided inside to guide the tourists.  Just like in any other temple, the Bayon is also known for its bas-reliefs.  An architectural term you’ll often encounter when you read up on temples in Siem Reap.  Bas relief is a sculptural form in which figures are carved in a flat surface and project only from the background rather than standing freely.  Naks! ;-)  Usually, bas-reliefs present historical scenes like King Jayavarman’s victory, mythological images or mundane scenes like the everyday life of the Khmers.

A bas-relief
Inside the temple, you can also find schemes like taking pictures with those girls in Khmer costumes (for a few dollars), burning incense and praying, tourists being asked to pose as though kissing the carved faces and more ruins. :)

We didn't linger that much inside since there were more temples to explore in the north east.  We exited the temple from where we entered and just sort of followed where the crowd was going.  This led us next to our 3rd temple for the day (the first was catching the sunrise at Angkor Wat but more stories are reserved for our 2nd visit on the 3rd day) - Baphuon temple.

Baphuon is a single sanctuary temple-mountain situated on a high base and is built as a representation of Mt. Meru ( a sacred mountain in Hindu and Buddhist belief).  This three-tier pyramid is often described as "poorly built" resulting to a collapse in 1943.  In fact, the full restoration was only completed 2 years ago because of the lost "blueprints".  This is one of those temples that require you to cover your legs and sleeved clothing.  Thankfully I brought my cropped cardigan!  

As mentioned in my previous post, the temple's steps are incredibly steep and made for people who are size 35 and below. :P  Feet tilted to an angle (like a model) is very useful here thank you very much.  Hahaha!!! But the view from the summit is magnificent! :)

And some more pics...

2 temples covered! Yay!  More to come! :D

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