Rona & Aaron’s Excellent Adventure, Part 17

Previously…

Angkor Thom is a temple complex that dates from the late 12th century. It is nearby Angkor Wat, but of a different vintage and it contains elements that differ greatly from Angkor Wat. Although its architecture is similar, the emphasis is less on Hindu tales and tradition.

The word Angkor is Khmer for “city.” Angkor Thom is thought to have been a city of between 80,000 and 150,000 people. It was built by the Khmer king Angkor Jayavarman VII as his capital city. One inscription found in the city refers to Jayavarman as the groom and the city as his bride.

Angkor Thom is surrounded by walls on all four sides with a total of only five entrances. One of the most visited temples in the complex is the Bayon Temple.

Bayon Temple, Angkor Thom

Bayon Temple, Angkor Thom

As you can see, the restoration of the Bayon Temple is under the auspices of UNESCO and sponsored by Japan. All of the temples are constantly in a state of restoration, a necessity that you will understand better when I show you Ta Prohm. In this case, the temple is being restored because many of its structures have been damaged and they are being rebuilt with original materials that were found at the site. Of course it is a bit like assembling a 100,000 piece jigsaw puzzle with pieces that could either be from it or from other puzzles and so the identification of which stones were from which structures is only the beginning of the job. They are doing a magnificent job as each year I see more and more of the construction.

Here is what Bayon temple looks like as one approaches.

Walking toward Angkor Thom

Walking toward Angkor Thom

The Bayon Temple, like Angkor Wat, has massive bas reliefs. However, instead of mythical battles, these bas reliefs are taken from the daily life of the people and as one walks around the base of the temple, it feels as if one is peering through windows and watching people go about their daily life.

Bas relief, Bayon Temple

Bas relief, Bayon Temple

Looks like a class to me!

Looks like a class to me!

The most interesting feature of the Bayon Temple is the carvings of faces. There are faces wherever you look.

How many faces do you see?

How many faces do you see?

Of course, one of the things that happens is that people get quite creative with their photography (or if not, they watch others and get ideas) and so here’s a picture of my husband rubbing noses with one of the faces.

Up close and personal

Up close and personal

Climbing up and seeing the temple from all different levels is fun and interesting and every once in a while, there’s a surprise, like these people dressed in traditional Khmer costumes. Our people enjoyed having their picture taken with them.

Happy people!

Happy people!

Visiting Angkor Thom was a lot of fun and we enjoyed seeing many of the temples and structures in its complex. However, nothing we saw prepared us for Ta Prohm! Next time…

Continuing…

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