A Travellerspoint blog

Cambodian Culture Village - Siem Reap

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Cambodian Culture Village - Siem Reap

This one was something that we hadn't planned for..on day 3 in Siem Reap, after we finished a boat cruise in the Thonle Sap area in the morning, we did have a whole afternoon free. We had seen this theme park, there is a big wheel in front of it, on our way from the hotel, so we just decided to go for it even though it is considered as a touristy stuff.

At the entrance...
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The Cambodian Culture Village is a theme park located on the highway between the airport and the Siem Reap town. It contains miniature famous buildings of Cambodia, a wax museum with models of Cambodian personalities from history and modern era and many villages depicting different village cultures within Cambodia. There are cultural shows held at different times at each village..it could be a dance, marriage ritual or drama depicting a historical Cambodian event, so we just follow the time table and follow the flow.

Entrance fees: 12 USD for foreigners. No camera fee.

Contrary to our initial doubts, we did really enjoy it. The wax museum was good..atleast they focused on their local personalities and not copy cat what Tussauds does, miniature monuments were average, but the shows at the villages were the highlight..that is what made it worth it, otherwise the fee is quite steep for it.

And avoid buying the photo mementos...they take your snaps, out of nowhere and then follow you to buy them. It is a cheap photo print hastily glued on a porcelain plate,not printed directly...if you don't buy it, they ll quickly glue the next snap on it.

The wax museum...
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A village...
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A miniature monument...
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and many of the shows (including a marriage ritual...a fellow tourist volunteered to be the groom!!)
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Later in the evening, we checked out the local market and I could also try out the Amok, a fish curry delicacy from Khmer cuisine.
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Posted by arunbaliga 04:09 Archived in Cambodia Tagged cambodia siem_reap amok cambodian_culture_village Comments (0)

Angkor Wat

Angkor Archaeological Park, Cambodia

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Angkor Wat

After lunch (it was a good one for me, but thumbs down from my veggie wife) at a local restaurant, we headed off to the destination of the day - Angkor Wat, the largest and most famous temple in the Angkor Archaeological Park. We entered through the rare entrance and we didn't realize we were at Angkor Wat until we reached the front part a couple of hours later, probably because we had always pictured the more popular full front view.

Rear entrance...
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Angkor Wat was built in the 12th century AD by the Khmer King Suryavarman II (a predecessor of the emperor Jayavarman VII) in dedication to Hindu deity Vishnu and it also served as his state temple. Today, it is the best preserved temple in the park and has also become a symbol for Cambodia, appearing on it's national flag and also as the prime tourist puller for this nation. The architecture is distinctly Khmer..constructing temples like steep mountains (symbolizing Mount Meru, home of the Hindu deities) and being surrounded by a watery moat (symbolizing that the world is surrounded by oceans).

The bas-reliefs of the temple wall contain scenes from Hindu mythology such as the Churning of the sea of milk for Amritha (nectar), Mahabharata war, episodes from the Ramayana, Krishna's victory over demon Banasura and images of Apsaras (celestial dancers) and Hindu deities.
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We also saw some of the steepest steps (they were off limits when we visited) ..i wonder how would people climb those then.
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My wife stacking up stones for good luck...
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Lord Buddha being worshipped...
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And Vishnu...
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We reached the front section after a couple of hours of exploring the temple. And here we were !!!.. a magnificent image that we would always remember..
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Few other snaps in the temple grounds...
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By the way, we did a visit a local super market that late evening, was just a short walk from our hotel...
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Posted by arunbaliga 03:00 Archived in Cambodia Tagged cambodia siem_reap angkor_wat angkor Comments (0)

Ta Prohm Temple - a La Tomb Raider

Angkor Archaeological Park, Cambodia

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Ta Prohm Temple - a La Tomb Raider

The Ta Prohm, known as Rajavihara (Royal Monastery) in the Khmer times and these days, in popular media as the jungle temple, is located within the Angkor Archaeological Park and was founded by Jayavarman VII in the 13th century AD as a Buddhist monastery and university. Unlike other temples, Ta Prohm has been intentionally left in the same condition that it was found, with trees growing out of the temple and it's jungle surrounding. This is what it makes it very popular with tourists. The temple was also used as a location for the Angelina Jolie starrer Lara Croft:Tomb Raider.

The temple is being conserved jointly by Archaeological Survey of India and the APSARA (Authority for the Protection and Management of Angkor and the Region of Siem Reap).

The temple doesn't have many narrative bas-reliefs like those in Bayon or Angkor Wat, possibly these were destroyed during the Hindu restoration of Jayavaram VIII. However, we can still see reliefs related to the life of the Buddha such as Siddhartha's (Buddha's childhood name) departure of his father's palace, images of meditating monks, davarapalas (temple guardians). There is also one animal carving on a relief that looks like a Stegosaurus..the guide mentioned to us as this being the evidence that the Khmers were aware of it.

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Posted by arunbaliga 01:10 Archived in Cambodia Tagged jungle_temple ta_prohm tomb_raider Comments (0)

Bayon Temple - Angkor Archaeological Park

Siem Reap, Cambodia

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Bayon Temple - Angkor Archaeological Park

The Bayon Temple (Khmer: Prasat Bayon) is a magnificient temple located within the Angkor Archaeological Park, it's distinctive feature being the massive stone faces on it's tower, believed to be those of Avalokitesvara (a Boddhisattva). Though each face looks the same from far, there are 200+ in total, with a closure look you can find that each one is different when it comes to facial expression. The temple is believed to have been built in the 13th century AD as the state temple of the Khmer Mahayana Buddhist Emperor Jayavarman VII and stands at the centre of the Angkor Thom (capital city of Jayavaraman). During the time of his successor Jayavarman VIII, who reverted back to Hinduism, the temple was altered to look like a Hindu Temple. So, today we find evidences of both Buddhism and Hinduism in the reliefs of this temple.

On the walls of the temple, there are bas-reliefs depicting historical events like army marches, scenes from the everyday life during the Angkorian times, Hindu mythological events and figures such as those of the Hindu trinity of Gods (Siva, Vishnu and Brahma), Apsaras (celestial dancers), Garuda (mythical bird) and Ravana (the mythical demon king from Hindu epic Ramayana).

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Posted by arunbaliga 00:14 Archived in Cambodia Tagged cambodia angkor bayon face_temple Comments (0)

Angkor Archaeological Park

Siem Reap, Cambodia

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....part of my backlog clearance activity:)

Angkor Archaeological Park

Day after arriving in Siem Reap, we set off early in the morning to explore Angkor ruins, around 6 km north of the town. Angkor Archaeological Park, as it is known today, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and contains numerous temples built over a period from 9th to 15th centuries AD, spread over more than 400 sq.km, including forests. Angkor (the Khmer word for Capital City) was the seat of the powerful Khmer empire, founded by the Khmer Hindu king Jayavarman II in the 9th century AD when he declared himself as a universal monarch (Chakravarthin). At it's zenith, the empire encompassed almost all that it is today Cambodia, Thailand, Lao PDR and Vietnam. Magnificent temples were built by the Khmer emperors at Angkor to worship Hindu deities like Vishnu, Shiva (as Linga) and at intermediate periods, to worship the Buddha (initially, Mahayana and later Theravada). Today, more than a 1000 temples or their ruins are located in the area, the most famous and largest is of course, the Angkor Wat (Wat is the local word for temple).

Exploring all that is there in the park will take months, so tourists make do with circuits of important temples, based the time they have. We had just a full day. This site suggests some good itineraries: http://www.canbypublications.com/siemreap/sritinerary.htm

Entrance: Passes (you can get in/out anytime during validity) are sold at the front gate, in 3 variants:
1 Day (valid for same day only) @ 20 USD
3 Day (any 3 days over the week) @ 40 USD and
7 Day (any 7 days over a month) @ 60 USD.
Take your passport along for identification. You don't need to buy passes for your guide or driver since it's free for Cambodians. There is no camera fee.

Transport & Guidance:
Guide: Hire a registered guide from your hotel, they charge about 20-25 USD/day. And it's worth it, they will not only guide you along the best possible circuit of important temples based on the time you have, but also save you the hassle of directly dealing with the driver. Relying just on the tuk tuk driver can be risky since most can't speak English and they aren't linked with the Hotel too.

Transport: Best way is travel by a tuk tuk (motor cycle driven carriage seating usually 4 persons, keep one seat for the guide). It costs about 12-15 USD/day. Other options include renting a bicycle (1-2 USD/day), motorbikes with driver (8-10 USD/day), taxis or guided tour buses. However, there isn't as much fun in taxis or buses as you have on a tuk tuk.

There are no restaurants within the park, you can have lunch at the numerous restaurants outside the park. Most restaurants have separate free food for the driver and guide when you visit them, so don't pay additionally for it.

Timings: 5 am - 6 pm.

Other stuff to carry along: Plenty of bottled water, mosquito repellent, rain coat/umbrella for rainy seasons and hat/sun glasses for the summer.

Tuk Tuks:
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Our itinerary: Since we had kept a full day for Angkor, we covered this way:
Morning (starting around 8 am) - South gate of Angkor Thom, Bayon (Face Temple), Phimeanakas, Terrace of the Elements, Terrace of the Leper King.

Lunch at a restaurant outside the park.

Afternoon (until about 4 pm) - Ta Prohm (Jungle Temple), Angkor Wat.

Posted by arunbaliga 23:28 Archived in Cambodia Tagged cambodia siem_reap angkor_wat angkor Comments (0)

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