Angkor Wat Temples

Before I get into the INCREDIBLE temples in the Angkor Archeological Park .  I learned a lot about this region of the world.  South East Asia.  I find it interesting that in the US schools we learn all about the Holocaust and how it affected world but “nothing” about the Cambodian Genocide that happened in the 1970’s.  My parents were about my age when this was happening here.  All of the people we meet are very familiar with those horrible times and have family members who have died during this time.  ( It was actually worse than what is going on in North Korea right now).  A few months ago I did a report on North Korea and long story short, the dictator does not allow anyone to leave or visit the country. Computers and radios are banned or only have Propaganda in them. Only books and TV channels that the government makes are allowed to be shown.  Everyone has to have a picture of the dictator in their home. If you are curios to learn more I suggest that you resurch it. It I a very interesting topic.)

Anyway, back to Cambodia…

FACT:

The Cambodian genocide of 1975-1979, in which approximately 1.7 million people lost their lives (21% of the country’s population), was one of the worst human tragedies of the last century. The Khmer Rouge regime headed by Pol Pot combined extremist ideology with ethnic animosity and a diabolical disregard for human life to produce repression, misery, and murder on a massive scale

While in the US and everywhere else no one knew what was going on in Cambodia because they shut down all communication with other countries. I wonder what happended to the travlers that were visiting Cambodia at the time???

FACTS:  All political and civil rights were abolished. Children were taken from their parents and placed in separate forced labour camps. Factories, schools and universities were shut down; so were hospitals. Lawyers, doctors, teachers, engineers, scientists and professional people in any field (including the army) were murdered, together with their extended families. Religion was banned, all leading Buddhist monks were killed and almost all temples destroyed. Music and radio sets were also banned. It was possible for people to be shot simply for knowing a foreign language, wearing glasses, laughing, or crying.

Cambodia has a fascinating history, it was a pretty tough time in the 70’s. Being here now, according to my parents, would be like in 30 years my children going to Afganistan or Iraq.  Places where we wouldn’t imagine going to now. Especially for families.  The reason that Pol Pot killed so many was because he wanted to take over and have a self sufficient farming country,  meaning that the country prouduces its own food and doesn’t rely on any other countrys for importing goods.  He killed all teachers and professors and banned schools because he didn’t want anyone smart to figure out a way to defeat his plan.

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ANGKOR WAT TEMPLES

This place is so awesome it should be considered as a wonder of the world.  The Cambodians are proud to have these temples in their country because they have the temples on their Flag. These temples are also UNESCO World Heritage Sites. the only other country to have a monument on there flag is Afganistan.

FUN FACT: Angkor is one of the most important archaeological sites in South-East Asia. Stretching over some 400 km2, including forested area, Angkor Archaeological Park contains the magnificent remains of the different capitals of the Khmer Empire, from the 9th to the 15th century.

We spent 3 full days exploring the ruins, temples, and monuments of Angkor and still didn’t see half of what is there.  Getting around by Tuk-Tuk is the way to go….$12-15 for the entire day, they drive you from temple to temple and stop anywhere you want. Very convenient.  We ate lunch in the Tuk Tuk too. IMG_1917This is the way to go!!!

IMG_1840 I will not write about every temple (or this blog would be 20 pages long).  I will only give what I found most impressive.

IMG_2110the carvings are absolutely extraordinary!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! and just about everyone that’s been there can agree.  If you click on this picture to make it full screen, you will see a painting of hell, heaven and the life. The picture is trying to tell that if you live a good life and honor the buddah’a beliefs (Buddism is the religion they belived in back then and even now ) then you are destined to go to heaven and always be happy.  But “hell” is entern punishment.  By the way this the only time I’m ever allowed to say ” hell”.  this is a carving.  I bet you wouldn’t even know unless I wrote it.  That just proves how amazing the incredible detail is!!!!!! It must of taken a really long time for the ancient people to carve because they had no modern technology tool and had to chip away at the stone.  Must of been very time consuming.  These carvings are on 90% of the temples. IMG_1319 This is a special language called Sanscrit. It was common during the ancent times but now only a few people in the entire world know how to read it! Some Modern forms of Sanscrit is still written in India today.  I wish I could read it to see what it says. We researched some figures on the internet.   I found it cool how the Sanscrit was carved in the walls.  I did a rubbing on it.  That means that I held a piece of  tissue paper to the wall and rubbed a crayon back and forth to have the Sanscrit carvings on the paper.  It is kind of hard to explaine but I will frame them when I get home and show my Art teacher.IMG_1968

I will keep these pictures of the rubbings forever. Sawyer and I did 6 of them. All different.

There were carvings of all sorts of things.  Mostly buddahs and flower designes.  I found it interesting to see a carving of horses pulling a charriot with elephants in the back round and dancing monkeys! That goes to show that they had all those animals back in the 9th century.  In fact there was a lot of statues of elephants and a temple called the  “elephant temple”.

FUN FACT: it is estimated to of took 6,000 elephants and 300,000 workers just to build the biggest temple. 

IMG_2119 This is the biggest temple and the most famous.  The 3 large spires are the ones shown on the Cambodian flag.  This is the temple known as Angkor Wat. When people refer to all the temples in this region,  they mostly call it all  “Angkor Wat” because well, I don’t know its just the name. There are names for every temple of course and I took notes on what I saw at each one.  The Angkor Wat temple has 2 huge moats around it and walls.  Iis known as the death temple because king Suryavarman the 2nd ( who was in charge of building Angkor Wat) ashes are burryed here.  A lot of funerals took place here.

To be honest I think the Angkor Wat temple itself  is over rated (compared to all the other awesome temples surrounding it)  sure its big but there is a lot of empty hallways.  I personally like the outer temples better.  But that’s my opinion.

IMG_1979This is called Angkor Thom/ or The Bayon Temple because it has over 400 faces carved into it. Can you spot the face???? this was Sawyer’s favorite temple.

IMG_1982 It’s easy to get lost in here. IMG_2180

This type of stuff was all over the temples.  There were a lot of fallen rocks, doorways, windows, collums, carvings and satues and every single temple that I went to had an entrance gate.

IMG_2273IMG_2020  People still decorate and pray at the Buddah statues in some temples. I learned that back in its hay day these gates were guarded  to make sure no intruders came in.  You can see the picture of me taking  notes.  I would bullet all the things I saw and then when we got back to the hotel, I copyed them down in my journal. I did that for every single temple.  I felt like a real archeologist.  I think that would be a cool job.  IMG_2157 This temple was differnent because unlike the ones that are made of all stone,  this one is made of only brick.  This temple had a bunch of different little “houses” as I call them that the people must of lived in. They are shown in the picture above.  Each temple is different and I noticed that some had separate “houses” that people lived in and others had really long hallways that I guess everyone shared.IMG_2522Here is Mom.

Its kind of hard to explaine but I picture each temple as a town.  Like my home town Port Jefferson, and everyone plays and lives in the town.  ( Maybe some of the kids play with other kids from other “towns” near by. LOL) All the temples that are in the same area as one another make up a little community.   And if you consider every single temple in the whole park, that makes up an entire state, like NY, maybe the Angkor Wat temple is the capitol.

Anyway it may be confusing to you but that’s how I look at things. I wonder what it was like to live in one of these temples over 1,000 years ago.

FUN FACT: the whole Angkor Wat park is known as the city of temples.

There is so much to say about Angkor Wat.  I only wrote half the stuff that I wanted to.  Look again in a few days to see more of the temples.  Remember to scroll down and you will see more what I wrote about the temples. Come back to this very post and I will include lots more picture, and fun facts. Tune in soon…for photos of the MOST COOL temple in the entire place.  ******************************************

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There were 2 temples with these really large trees.  Look at the picture closely and you will be able to tell that the tree is actually grown from the TOP of the roof and the roots hang down.  I think its pretty cool.  The trees are about the size of a 4 story building!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! and it is very thick.  We couldn’t even get the whole tree in the picture.

IMG_2286 I think this is a nice famliy shot. You can really see how big and thick the roots are.

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This is an aerial view of only ONE temple.  You can see how there are walls surrounding the temple and so many rooms.  We visited about 8 temples in 3 days and explored a lot of area with our Tuk-Tuk and driver.

FUN FACT:  Angkor Wat is a temple complex in Cambodia and the largest religious monument in the world. Larger than any Mosque, Church, Cathedral, or Synagog.

 

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I noticed that ALL the temples had very steep steps.  Most people including my mom were afraid to fall and didn’t climb up.  Sawyer and I had to climb up like a bear.  We used all our arms and legs.  the stairs were not only steep but they were also very small.  The stairs had only 6 inches of surface.  It wasn’t even enough to put my whole foot down!

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Sawyer and I doing the spider climb in a door way. Another thing I noticed about all these temples is that they always have the praying area at the highest point.

. IMG_1982 This is the temple of faces as I call it.  everywhere you looked there was a face statue .  You cant tell this from the picture, but there was a face in each side if the stone.  The 4 faces were in each direction.  North, south, east and west.  The idea is that the faces watched over the land to see that everyone is doing good things.

IMG_2246IMG_2221IMG_2412It was so cool to walk around here. IMG_1449

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LAND MINE MUSEUM

The land mine museum was very educational and I learned most land mines  were planted by the US  during the Vietnam war to keep the North Vietnam people to not go through Cambodia to get to South Vietnam. It did not stop them but harmed many innocent people, mostly children.  The US left this area in 1973, then …. What people do not know is that during that time the Khmer Rough Army  (Cambodian) Army planted millions more  landmines in the North part of the country as well.  The Khmer Army planted MORE landmines than anyone else.

Now there are millions of landmines left over, and through out the years, many kids who were playing in the fields accidently stepped on a landmine and got there legs blown off,  or they would get there arms blown off if they picked it up.  It is very sad to think that so many innocent people had to suffer, and the numbers were in the thousands!!!!!! We learned that in the 1980s, about 2,000 people were injured due to the landmines every YEAR.

The founder of the museum, AKI RA,  used to be a war soldier so he knows how to work with the landmines and disable them without setting them off.  He has a book and he has won a lot of Humanitarian world wide awards.

FUN FACT: Aki Ra is a former Khmer Rouge conscripted child soldier who works as a deminer and museum curator in Siem Reap, Cambodia. He has devoted his life to removing landmines in Cambodia and to caring for young landmine victims.

He goes around to all the villages that are expected to have landmines in there fields and takes them apart.  It must be working good because last year about 150  people were injured from the landmines.  That is still a large number but not as much as 2,000! no one knows for sure but there is an estimated 3 to 6 million land mines left.  This was a very interesting place. WE learned a  LOT. Mom and Dad read every picture comment.

If you want to learn more about the landmines you can go to this website… There was a chart on the wall listing the money from foreign Governments given to the Landmine Relief Efforts and the US gives the most per year.  Almost a million.

http://www.cambodialandminemuseum.org/

 

IMG_1445these are only a part of the landmines that Aki Ra  collected. They are all different shapes and sizes, some as small as a tennis ball.

Come back to my blog in a few days when I will be posting about Bangkok, Thailand…….our next stop!

if you have any questions or comments you can email me at    rileymeeckley@yahoo.com

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