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Let’s face it…

August 31, 2008

Cambodia does boast some magnificent historical architecture. Those ancient Khmers certainly knew what they were doing when they built Angkor Wat. I wonder what they were thinking during the planning stage. Perhaps something like: “Why not build a really big temple so everyone can enjoy it, not just for now, but for centuries to come. Oh and hopefully make money off it as well”.

Without a doubt Angkor Wat has to be ranked as the number one ‘must see’ site in Cambodia. But the faces of Bayan come in a close second. These faces have been widely photographed, talked about and viewed in most travel guides. So you can imagine that coming to a well visited site, with the view of taking photos, has many challenges; angle, light, creativity, the package tour slowly rambling through your shot as you press the shutter. One of the things you have to learn is – patience!

Due to its popularity, Bayan is on most visitors lists either by their choice or somebody else’s. Private cars tend to follow the same itinerary to that of other drivers and bus tours. I knew that the morning I was going  would be busy. Even though I only had time to see the top four temples: Angkor Wat, Bayan, Elephant Terrace, Ta Phrom, I had my driver do it in reverse order to 99% of everyone else. This gave me time to take the shots I wanted, and to explore without being pushed along by excited tourists. Touts tended to ignore me as well.

It was mid morning and calm when I came upon Bayan. In my solitude I wandered around aimlessly and it felt good. It also felt a little eery with all these faces watching me. Like big brother from yesteryear.

taken by Cate

taken by Cate

There needs to be a new verb for visiting temples, because writing about it is tedious. Something like ‘templing’ is a good word. Here goes.

“Templing” is something I love to do in Buddhist countries. Each country has their own signature colour range, style and eastern influence. The Khmers were influenced by Indian Hinduism, you can see similarities in temple architecture between these two countries. Some of the Khmer temples were built long before Buddhism made its way to Cambodia. They are old.

Their age can be seen in the crumbling walls, the fading reliefs, erosion caused by history, even the lichen has moved in. But these sites still retain their splendor. And the faces still stand.

taken by Cate

taken by Cate

Till my next post…

Caffeinated Traveller

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3 Comments
  1. Erin McDermott permalink
    September 3, 2008 9:52 am

    cool photos Catherine, is it peak season for travelling at this time, whats the temperature like at this time?

  2. Cate permalink*
    September 4, 2008 6:37 am

    The temperature is incredibly hot and humid as its the rainy season. This time of the year is the low season, not so busy. I would recommend going at this time as it gets very busy during the cooler months and you can’t see much of the temples due to the crowds. So if you can carry an umbrella and don’t mind the sticky muggy weather go in June.
    Are you planning a trip???? Hope so.

  3. Erin McDermott permalink
    September 4, 2008 8:16 am

    well always on the look-out….ive got to be doing something to make it a little different for me, away from crowds which is a big ask these days, maybe a motorbike tour. Though a thats a big planning trip.

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