Posted in Cambodia

Siem Reap, Cambodia – Bayon & Tonle Sap

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Angkor Thom is a ten square-kilometer walled city just to the north of Angkor Wat built by King Jayavarman VII between 1181 and 1219.  At its height, it’s estimated that there was a population of over one million living in the surrounding area.  At the center of it all is the fascinating temple of Bayon.  There are low-ceilinged corridors and steep stairs throughout, all capped by 54 towers on which are carved 219 smiling images of Avalokitesshvara which it is said bear an uncanny similarity to the great King Jayavarman VII himself.  When you are not looking up at the heads, you can look at more than 11,000 bas-reliefs carved on the walls stretching 1.3 kilometers.  These include intricate scenes of everyday life, battles, victory parades, and more.  One could spend several days here and still not see everything!  The entire Angkor Archaeological Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Bayon, Cambodia
Reflection of the Bayon.
Photo ©2001 by Kraig Lieb
©2011 Purple Moon Publications


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Tonlé Sap Lake is a huge lake that stretches through the center of Cambodia.  The floating village of Chong Kneas is quite close to Siem Reap but moves according to the seasons.  During the dry season it may be 15km or more south of the town while when the lake is full the village can be as close as 11km.  Kompong Pluk is another nearby village but it doesn’t technically float.  During the dry season the secret is revealed as in the above postcard – the houses are built on skinny bamboo stilts to keep them above the rising waters of the wet season.  These villages, and many more, are easily visited as day excursions from Siem Reap (the dock is at Phnom Krom).  You can even take a fast speedboat all the way to Phnom Penh but these are reportedly fairly dangerous.

Tonle Sap Lake, Cambodia
Stilted houses line a floating village.
Photo ©2011 by Kraig Lieb
©2012 Purple Moon Publications

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