Thứ Năm, 18 tháng 1, 2018

The Lost City of Angkor Wat, Cambodia

This ancient city’s wonders were rediscovered in 1860 by the French explorer Henri Mahout after it had been concealed deep within the Cambodian jungle for centuries. Today it is now possible to experience this city’s mystical wonders. At one time this amazing place was the Khmer civilisations capital. The city’s high of power came in the 12th century when the magnificent Angkor Thom was built which is a royal city within a city.

During this time King Suryavarman the second, erected the temple which is said to be a symbol of Mount Meru – the sacred core of the Hindu faith. This temple is truly a spectacular building in itself. It is encircled within a sizeable moat and bridged via a stone causeway. The three story stone built structure faces west with the top floor capped by four corner towers and a main level 65 metres high. When it was first built the temple was bestowed to Shiva – one of the Hindu gods, later this temple was used as a Buddhist monastery. Nowadays carvings relics of the Buddha are present within its hallowed spaces. Today it is acknowledged as a spiritual monument by Cambodia’s mainly Buddhist population. Eight centuries of plundering and weathering have done little to diminish the quality of the majestic detail of the carvings of Angkor Wat. The carvings depict scenes from the Mahabharata – a great Hindu story and shows scenes of great Khmer battles and warnings of the sufferings of Hell.

The best time to view this unforgettable place is in the morning, where you the carvings and reliefs really stand out in the morning light. The rising sun highlights the aspsaras (celestial nymphs) carved into the walls ad pillars. The detail of these sculptures is truly amazing given how old they are. Bullet markings remind us of recent history of when the temple was used as a safe haven for the infamous Khmer Rouge communist movement. Indeed the entire top level of the city would seem to have been designed specifically with daybreak in mind. The sun slowly creeps through the stone pillared windows of the temple casting the beautiful morning light upon the apsaras in the sanctified Buddhist sanctuary fading into the shadows again less than 20 minutes later.

The Bayon and Ta Prohm are also two locations that are a must for any aspiring visitors to this great city. The Bayon is a small temple which was built later than Angkor Wat. This temple is easily distinguishable with its massive, expressionless stone faces resembling the Lord Buddha. Historians think these were built at a time when the ancient Khmer civilization was making a transition from Hinduism to Buddhism. Ta Prohm on the other hand was a once beautiful temple which has been ravaged by time. You may know this temple by the huge roots that push their way through the stone. This part of the temple is well known through photos around the world.

The temples of Angkor are now more accessible than ever with Cheap flights to Thailand and onto Cambodia. If its peace, tranquillity and jaw dropping history and architecture you are after head to the main Buddha sanctuary on the top level of the temple. You can only reach this temple by climbing one of four flights of steep and dilapidated stairs which the Khmers who built it equated to the demanding and tricky path to heaven. This is perhaps the most spiritual place you could ever visit and uniquely offers tourists the chance to feel inner peace.

Phnom Penh – Cambodia’s Capital City

Getting to Phnom Penh:

Phnom Penh’s International Airport, formerly known as Pochentang International Airport, is a very modern facility located 10 kilometres from the centre of the City . It is the larger of Cambodia’s two International Airports .As befits the Capital City of Cambodia; Phnom Penh is serviced by the major South East Asia airlines with flights to and from South and South East Asia destinations.

These include Bangkok Airlines and Thai Airways to Bangkok, Lao Airlines to Vientiane, Vietnam Airlines to Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, Dragon Airlines to Hong Kong, Silk Air to Singapore, Malaysia Airlines to Kuala Lumpur, EVA Air to Taipei, Asiana Airlines to Seoul and three Chinese Airlines to Beijing, Guangzhou and Shanghai.

Bus services run from Thailand through the border at Poi pet and also from the Vietnamese city of Ho Chi Minh City, crossing the Cambodia-Vietnam border at Moc Bai.

A more exotic mode of transport is the boat ride to Phnom Penh from Char Doc in Vietnam. This route follows the Mekong River.

Getting around

Phnom Penh does not have a local public bus system. Either motorcycle taxis or tuk-tuks are on every corner ready to take the visitor around town. These operators offer a cheap service with the trip from the centre of town to the airport costing $ 7.

For a quaint and relaxed experience the three wheeled cycle rickshaws offer a slower ride around town.

There is a limited taxi service with taxis mainly available from the cities hotels. Cars are not available for rent and although motor cycles are available for rent it would be a brave person who would want to ride in this heavily congested traffic system.

Entertainment

Evening cruises on the Mekong River Live Music and the bars and restaurants along the River.

Where to stay

Accommodation in plentiful in Phnom Penh with all travellers catered for from those seeking the $ 5 per night budget guest house through to the affluent using the increasing number of four and five international hotels. A good cross section of accommodation is located in the Riverside area.

Where to Eat

The Phnom Penh river front along Sisowath Quay is where you need to go if international food and flavour has a special appeal to you. There is a distinctly French influence in the dishes available as well as the traditional Cambodian fare. In addition restaurants with Vietnamese and Thai dishes make this area a true South East Asian dining experience.

What to See

The Royal Place seated on the banks of the Mekong River takes up a whole block and features the Silver Pagoda and the Temple of the Emerald Buddha in the Palace Grounds. Next door to the Royal Palace is the National Museum. The museum houses Angkoran statues and an extensive collection of exhibits from that era. On a more sombre note the Tuol Sieng Genocide Museum displays evidence of Cambodia’s horrific past under the rule of Pol Pot.

The Cheoung Ek “Killing Fields” located 15km south of Phnom Penh provides further evidence of the atrocities during the reign of terror. Situated in a field of green is a stupa loaded with layer on layer of human skulls.

Where to shop

The Central market in the Riverfront area sells everything imaginable both inside and on the outside of the art deco styled dome covered area. Also nearby is the Soraya Mall which has several floors of well stocked shops.

Angkor Wat – Temple of Ta Keo

The original name of the temple was ‘Hema-sringagiri’, meaning ‘The Mountain with Golden Peaks’. It is one of the few temples where you can still see mae ji, as the female devotees of Buddha are known. They are recognizable by their shaven heads and white garb. In past years, they tended the Buddhist shrines that had been placed in the often Hindu temples. More recently, due to the influx of tourists, one sees less of the mae ji and more of the locals dressed up in traditional garb to pose for photos. The mae ji can be considered female monks, but that is not quite accurate. The mae ji occupy a place between the monks and lay people. Many sects of the Buddhist faith allow women to be ordained, and their numbers are growing, but those rights have still not been extended to women in this area of the Buddhist world. Still, they take the same vows of faith that the male monks do. In the temples they often sell incense sticks to be presented to the shrine they tend.

The climb to the top of the temple is an arduous one, especially in the hot sun. The east-facing stair is the easiest of the four, yet still quite steep. Take great care if you decide to go all the way to the top of the 22-meter-high temple. The temple plan is straightforward: the stairs on each side lead directly up each level, eventually leaving you at the top where you can enter the central tower.

You probably won’t be able to notice just from looking or walking around, but the temple is slightly asymmetrical. The third level is slightly west of center, and the southern edge is slightly wider than the north edge. It is unknown if these variations were intentional or not. However, it was intentional that Jayavarman V built his state temple in a place other than the center of his capital, though the significance of this is unknown.

In accordance with the symbolism of Mt. Meru, the third level is the most holy place. One of the kings succeeding Jayavarman V, a man named Suryavarman I, gave the temple as a gift to Yogisvara Pandita, one of the religious leaders of the time. Despite the esteem that others felt for this yogi, the man himself used only the lower two levels and considered himself unworthy of the highest level. If you make it to the top, you will see that it is a special place, with a great view over the treetops and even a glimpse of the very tip of Angkor Wat to the southwest, though it’s easy to miss.

The central tower that is accessed by the long flights of stairs does not have a roof. The absence makes the room of the central tower seem like it has a skylight and, along with the unfinished carvings, is evidence that Ta Keo was left incomplete. Scholars believe that it was just too ambitious a project for its time. This certainly may be true, but it must also be considered that the temple builders experienced a big setback during construction.

Work was interrupted when lightning hit the crowning stone. In Khmer culture, this was a very inauspicious occurrence. A ceremony had to be held to cleanse the temple of the bad luck, and new stone had to be ordered. The stone was high-quality sandstone known as grauwacke, which had to be cut and shipped in. This setback may very well have made the building project too much to finish.

Famous Temples Worldwide

There are a number of temples world over which are famous because of one reason or the other. Some are famous for their architectural designs, some for their locations and some because of their spiritual and religious importance.

Wat Rong Khun, Thailand

Wat Rong Khun is a Buddhist temple located in Chiang Rai, Thailand. It has various dissimilarities with the other Buddhist temples of the world. It has been made using the white colour and various mosaic mirrors have been used to give it an amazing shine. Mastermind behind the construction of this temple is Chalermchai Kositpipat, a renowned Thai artist. The temple is still under construction and it is believed that it will take another half century to complete this temple.

Tiger’s Nest Monastery, Bhutan

Tiger’s Nest Monsatery has been constructed at the edge of a cliff, which is 3,000 feet high in Paro Valley, Bhutan. It is counted among the most holiest places of Himalayan kingdom, Bhutan. According to a famous legend, Buddhist Guru Rinpoche (famous as second Buddha), flew to this site on a Tigress back and meditated here in a cave. This cave now exists in the structure to the monastery. This monastery, which is called as Taktshang Goemba, was constructed in 1692.

Prambanan, Indonesia

Prambanan is a famous Hindu temple, which is located in Central Java region in Indonesia. Prambanan temple was built in 850 BC and there are about 250 small shrines inside the temple complex. Walls of the temple have been covered with carvings of bas relief narrating various stories of incarnation of Lord Vishnu and Ramayana.

Shwedagon Pagoda, Mayanmar

Shwedagon Pagoda in Mayanmar is believed to have been built 2,500 years ago between 6th and 10th century. The temples has been painted in Golden colour. The dome of this famous Stupa has been covered by using more that 2,000 rubies and 5,000 diamonds. One of the main attractions of this temple is eight strands of Lord Buddha’s hair. It is popular belief among devotees of this temple to donate packets of gold leaves after saving their money for a long time. These gold leaves are stick to the wall of the temple.

Golden Temple (Harmandir Sahib), India

Golden Temple is one of the famous holy places of Sikhs in India. It is also famous by the name of Harmandir Sahib (Abode of God). It is located in the holy city of Amritsar in Punjab. It is believed that the site of the temple used to be a lake in the ancient time and Lord Buddha and the founder of Sikhism, Guru Nanak Dev Ji meditated here. Golden temple has been constructed using marble stone and sculptures and has been gilded in gold.

Apart from these temples, there are a number of marvelous temples around the world like Vishnu Temple in Srirangam, India, Angkor Wat in Cambodia, Potala Palace and Jokhang Temple in Tibet, Hindu temples and holy ghats of Varanasi in India, Borobudur temple in Java.

Discovering Angkor Wat Temples in Cambodia

If there was one place I’ve always wanted to visit, it would have to be Angkor Wat. For those of you who haven’t heard of Angkor Wat, it is a temple complex built near Siem Reap in Cambodia. It was built in the 12th century by King Suryavarman the second and was the capital city for his empire. It is well known for its large variety of bas-reliefs, and devatas (guardian spirits) that are decorated throughout the entire complex on its walls.

Fortunately my recent visit to Cambodia, included spending a few days in Siem Reap and getting to go to the temple complex. It costs about $ 35 to get a pass into the complex for 3 days and that allows you to see all the temples. I took time to see quite a few of them, obviously the masterpiece however is Wat. Another amazing temple that is very popular is Angkor Thom, it was 15 minutes or so from the Victoria Angkor Hotel we stayed at in Siem Reap. The temple boasts 216 smiling faces. Words cannot describe the emotional effect the temples have on you. It is a place of beauty, mystery and wonder. The age and history of the temples are incredible. Our Guide “Sophy” from a Southeast Asia travel company called Exotic Voyages could not have been better; he really knew his history and he knew how to find just the right spots to take 5 Star pictures and stay away from the crowds. The hotel we stayed at is one in a chain of my favorite hotels in Southeast Asia, Victoria Hotels.

They are peaceful, serene, laid back and wonderfully designed. They even had 2 baby crocodiles on display in the indoor river. It was a wonderful hotel and the breakfasts at resorts in Southeast Asia are like nothing you’ve ever seen in the U.S. You literally have over a hundred items to choose from. There was a chef ready to make any type of egg you wanted with 30+ options, there were 20 varieties of cheese and fruits and cereals. There was even a waiter standing ready to serve you any juice you asked for and most of them he picked fresh right from the town. The breakfasts are always amazing and I love waking up early in the morning, getting a good workout in and having a great breakfast to start the day. There is so much to share about Cambodia, one of my favorite destinations. I love Cambodia and can’t wait to go back!

Do and Don't When Travelling to Cambodia

Cambodia is becoming a popular country in Southeast Asia for international travel: it’s affordable, friendly and beautiful. It may not be packed with five-star hotels, water parks and luxury spas, but what it lacks in sophistication it makes up for in charm. Recovering from a dark past that many visitors are interested in learning about, Cambodia is similarly eager to show off its lighter side: from ornate temples to lush natural parks and wonderfully preserved architecture.

You can get cheap Cambodia flights by searching online comparison sites finding the cheapest airline serving your home city. Remember the following dos and don’ts when you go to Cambodia:

Cambodia’s religions is Theravada Buddhism, which is practised by an estimated 95 per cent of the population across all provinces, in nearly 5, 000 wats or temples.

In Cambodia, there is a close link between religious tradition and everyday life, and Buddhism is fundamental to the country’s national identity. Thus it’s important for visitors to respect local traditions and religious beliefs. For example, ask permission prior to taking photographs of people or monks. In the case of visiting temples, try to always be respectful of worshippers and holy men.

Before you travel internationally, it’s always a good idea to check with your doctor for health advice.

Although no vaccinations are required for entry to Cambodia, some immunisations (depending on the time of year and region you’re travelling to) are encouraged. The climate in Cambodia is tropical, with monsoons between June and October, and warm, dry weather dominating the rest of the time. Many Cambodians wear “Krama”, which is a long, narrow checked cotton cloth around the neck – what Westerners may recognise as a necktie – that warms against chilly weather and protects against mosquitos.

Owing to the warm weather, you can expect to drink a lot of water. Take care to only drink purified bottled water. You may enjoy the local Khmer cuisine, which has been described as similar to neighbouring Thai food, but without the heavy spicing. Staples include stir fries, rice, noodles and soups, and of course you may recognise Prahok, which is a fermented fish paste that’s used in a variety of speciality dishes. Are you brave enough to try the delicacy, “balut”, which is a fertilised duck embryo boiled alive and eaten in the shell?

Whether you’re travelling to Cambodia’s cities to enjoy her well-preserved architecture, or touring the killing fields to learn about the Khmer Regime, there is much to see in this complex and beautiful country. Get flights today and plan your holiday to the pearl of Southeast Asia.

Cambodia Holiday

In the past, travelling to Cambodia can only be achieved in our dreams as it has shut its doors for about 25 years. Now it is good news to those who want to travel to Cambodia as it has finally open the doors with open arms and welcome anyone to travel and visit the country. The kingdom of Cambodia is now a safe and enjoyable destination for tourists.

Cambodia is well-known for its ancient temples, fabulous sandy beaches, dense forest and the amazing culture and amazing history. Travelling to Cambodia is certainly very educational and eyes opening and is a perfect trip for the family.

It has been said that seeing the Angkor Wat alone is worth the trip to Cambodia. Angkor Wat is known to be one of the most beautiful places on Earth. It is built by the Khmer Kings and it took almost 4 centuries to complete. In the ancient days, this temple was hidden in the forest but was fortunately discovered by a French man about 150 years ago.

The size of Angkor Wat is so huge that it is not possible to walk from one temple to another. If you prefer to move around at your own pace, you might want to rent a motorcycle and tour around at your own time and convenience. Another alternative is that you can get a local guide which usually includes transportation. For the second option, you can get more information about the various itineraries and packages from your hotel tour counter. The “Lost City” of Angkor is indeed an irresistible attraction not to be missed.

The people in Cambodia is extremely friendly and warm especially towards tourists. Besides the vast number of tourists attractions, the friendly culture of the Cambodia people, the delicious cuisine is also another reason for the increasing numbers of travellers coming to Cambodia.

Having a vacation in Cambodia is a totally different experience and cannot be compared with travelling in a city like Japan. The pace is a bit slow here and transportation is not as efficient and fast compared with cities in other developed countries. Travelling between destinations although is quite an experience, it can be rather fun as this is cannot be experienced elsewhere.

If you are living in a fast pace country, visiting Cambodia is like visiting a new world. Everything is so different and unique here. It can be an unforgettable experience for most of us.