Scarlet Scribbles

Music | Travel | Marketing | By Andrew Darwitan

Bayon: The Smiling Faces of Angkor Thom

Angkor Thom (not to be confused with the more famous Angkor Wat) was the last capital of the Angkorian empire. It captures Angkor at the period when Jayavarman VII reclaimed the empire from Cham invaders in 1181, which resulted with a massive building campaign for his new Royal Palace.

Angkor Thom is a big complex of many, many temples. It is walled and moated royal city with five different gates to the city.

South Gate, Angkor Thom, Siem Reap, Cambodia

Angkor Thom is unique in that the buildings here are decorated with carvings that draw from Buddhist influences, instead of the Hinduism influence which dominate the other temples. Indeed, the civilization during that period was in gradual transition towards Buddhism, which has since become Cambodia’s major religion up to today.

Among the many temples in Angkor Thom, the most famous one is Bayon. The giant stone faces of Bayon has become one of the most recognizable image of classic Khmer art. Bayon has 37 standing towers, most of which are carved with smiling faces facing towards four different directions. Read more…

Ta Prohm in Angkor: Man Builds, Nature Takes Over

You may have seen this superstar temple in an Angelina Jolie blockbuster before. Ta Prohm was featured in ‘Lara Croft: Tomb Raider’, and as a result is the most crowded out of all temples I visited.

After the fall of Khmer Empire in the 17th century, Ta Prohm was abandoned and neglected for centuries. When it was rediscovered, massive fig and silk-cotton trees have already taken over the temple, turning it into a perfect blend of mankind’s chef d’oeuvre and nature’s masterpiece.

Ta Prohm, Angkor, Siem Reap, Cambodia

Ta Prohm, Angkor, Siem Reap, Cambodia Read more…

Scaling the Mammoth Heights of Pre Rup in Angkor

A popular sunset spot in Siem Reap, Pre Rup is a majestic temple mountain with steep, knee-high steps. Its height is imposing, and definitely not recommended for those with acrophobia. But if you’ve got guts, you’ll soon find the climb to be rewarding.

Pre Rup, Siem Reap, Cambodia

Pre Rup, Siem Reap, Cambodia

Pre Rup has an ancient Egyptian pyramid feel to it, with lion statues guarding from every corner of the steps. Traditionally believed to be a funerary temple, the term “Pre Rup” literally means “turn the body”, which refers to the ritual rotation of body ashes in different directions as funerary service progresses.

In fact, though, it is actually the state temple of a warrior king called Rajendravarman II. This temple is historically important in that it was the second temple built after the Khmer capital was returned from Koh Ker to Angkor after a political upheaval (the first was East Mebon, which is nearby and artistically similar but I didn’t get the chance to visit it). The amazingly intricate Banteay Srei was also constructed during his reign.

The apsara carvings here are surprisingly quite detailed, but unfortunately not very well-preserved. But even if you’ve already grown tired of temple carvings, Pre Rup still does one thing exceedingly well. The views of the Angkorian ruins and Cambodian countryside from up here is amazing:

Read more…

Banteay Srei: Most Intricate & Delicate Temple in Angkor

If you thought the carvings in the main Angkor Wat temple is impressively detailed, wait until you see Banteay Srei.

Loosely translates to ‘Citadel of the Women’, the temple is called such because its reliefs are so delicate that they could only have been carved by a woman. Banteay Srei is the only major temple at Angkor that is not built for the king, and hence it’s located quite far from the other temples. In fact, Banteay Srei is not a standard stop for most tour operators and you’ll have to request a visit from your driver at an additional cost.

Banteay Srei, Siem Reap, Cambodia

Banteay Srei is also probably the only Angkorian temple that was built mostly with pink and yellow sandstone, which gives it a very unique standout quality. Pink and yellow sandstone are very hard, which helps to explain why the carvings here are still in very good conditions, as compared to the carvings in Angkor Wat that have deteriorated with time and massive overtourism.

Every single inch of Banteay Srei is adorned with meticulously-crafted fine little details of leaf patterns and Hindu goddesses:

Read more…

Inside Angkor Wat: Stories of Wars Frozen in Time

You’ve seen that picture of Angkor Wat many times before: Five perfectly symmetrical lotus-shaped towers rising 65 meters across the pond.

It’s iconic. It’s beautiful. But it seems like few people actually bother to write or talk about what they saw once their shoes step on the great monument itself, which surprises me because it’s certainly no less impressive seeing Angkor Wat up close.

Angkor Wat, Siem Reap, Cambodia

Knowing the historical background certainly helped me to enjoy Angkor Wat more. I saw other tourists too busy taking pictures, complacent to the information overload their guides are bombarding them with. I’m glad I made the decision not to go with a guide, which forced me to read up at my own pace.

The carvings on the Angkor Wat temple depict stories from Hindu mythology and the historical wars of Suryavarman II against the Cham. The revolutionary battle ushered the ancient Khmer civilization into its political and territorial apex, which led into prolific innovations in art and architecture.

And if history is not your cup of tea, well… just sit back and look at the fine carvings: Read more…

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