Archive for the 'Cambodia' Category

24
Feb
11

Siem Reap, Cambodia – Angkor Thom the great Khmer city

Angkor Thom means “the great city” in Khmer. The 12th-century royal Buddhist city is especially famed for its grand Bayon Temple, but has several other sights of interest as well. The vast area of the Angkor Thom ruins, over a mile on one side, contains many stone temples and other features to explore.

 The city has five monumental gates (one in each wall plus an extra in the eastern wall), 20m high and decorated with stone elephant trunks and the king’s favorite motif, the four faces of Avalokiteshvara. Each gate, which leads onto a causeway across the moat, is flanked with statues of 54 gods on the left and 54 demons on the right. This is a theme from the Hindu myth of the Churning of the Milk-Ocean (illustrated in the famous bas-relief at Angkor Wat). The south gate is the best restored and most popular, but also the most busy since it leads directly to Angkor Wat. The east and west gates, found at the end of uneven trails, are more peaceful. The east gate was used for a scene in the Tomb Raider movie, in which the bad guys broke into the “tomb” by pulling down a giant apsara .

The Terrace of the Elephants served as a viewing platform for royal parties and depicts elephants and garuda (a mythical bird-like creature).

The Terrace of the Leper King is a decorative platform topped by a statue surrounded by four lesser statues, each facing away from the central statue. The central figure is probably a Khmer ruler who allegedly died of leprosy, either Yasovarman I or Jayavarman VII.

Bayon Temple (circa 1190) is a Buddhist temple but retains elements of Hindu cosmology and imagery. Standing in the exact center of the walled city, it represents the intersection of heaven and earth. It is known for its enigmatic smiling faces of Avalokiteshvara and its extraordinary bas-reliefs.

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12
Feb
11

Phnom Penh, Cambodia – Remembering Security Prison S21

Tuol Svay Pray High School sits on a dusty road on the outskirts of Phnom Penh, Cambodia. In 1976, the Khmer Rouge renamed the high school S-21 and turned it into a torture, interrogation and execution center. Of the 14.000 people known to have entered, only seven survived. Not only did the Khmer Rouge carefully transcribe the prisoners’ interrogations; they also carefully photographed the vast majority of the inmates and created an astonishing photographic archive. Each of the almost 6.000 S-21 portraits that have been recovered tells a story shock, resignation, confusion, defiance and horror. Although the most gruesome images to come out of Cambodia were those of the mass graves, the most haunting were the portraits taken by the Khmer Rouge at S-21.

Today, S-21 Prison is known as the Tuol Sleng Museum of Genocide. Inside the gates, it looks like any high school; five buildings face a grass courtyard with pull-up bars, green lawns and lawn-bowling pitches. The ground-floor classrooms in one building have been left to appear as they were in 1977. The spartan interrogation rooms are furnished with only a school desk-and-chair set that faces a steel bed frame with shackles at each end. On the far wall are the grisly photographs of bloated, decomposing bodies chained to bed frames with pools of wet blood underneath. These were the sights that greeted the two Vietnamese photojournalists who first discovered S-21 in January of 1979.

In another building the walls are papered with thousands of S-21 portraits. At first glance, the photograph of a shirtless young man appears typical of the prison photos. Closer inspection reveals that the number tag on his chest has been safety pinned to his pectoral muscle. The photographs and confessions were collected in order to prove to the Khmer Rouge leaders that their orders had been carried out.

08
Feb
11

Phnomh Penh, Cambodia – Remembering the Killing Fields

The Killing Fields are a number of sites where large numbers of people were killed and buried by the Khmer Rouge regime, during its rule of the country from 1975 to 1979, immediately after the end of the Vietnam War. These “Killing Fields” refers to the genocide which took place after the takeover of power by Pol Pot and his Khmer Rouge regime.

At first glance the Killing Fields are no more than a smell section of grassland, surrounding a central monument. It is only upon closer inspection that a visitor will notice the shocking details such as the dipped earth where the mass graves lie, the bones and bits of clothing that jut out of the ground, and the presentation of 4000 human skulls, which fill the central glass mural.

Analysis of 20.000 mass grave sites indicate at least 1.386.734 victims. Estimates of the total number of deaths resulting from Khmer Rouge policies, including disease and starvation, range from 1.7 to 2.5 million out of a population of around 8 million. In 1979, communist Vietnam invaded Democratic Kampuchea and topples the Khmer Rouge regime.

30
Jan
11

The Royal roads of Angkor Wat – Cambodia

Angkor Wat CambodiaAngkor Wat (“City Temple”) is a vast temple complex near Siem Reap, about 200 miles from the capital of Phnom Penh in Cambodia. Built in the 12th century by the king of the prosperous Khmer empire, Angkor Wat was built as a royal temple dedicated to a Hindu deity.

After the city of Angkor fell to invaders, Angkor Wat receded into the jungle but continued as a Buddhist temple and a pilgrimage site over the centuries.

Angkor Wat is the best preserved example of Khmer architecture in Cambodia and is so grand in design that some rank it among the seven wonders of the world. It appears on the Cambodian national flag, a very rare instance of a flag incorporating an image of a building.

The “lost city” of Angkor first attracted the interest of Europeans in the 1800s after Cambodia was colonized by the French. Today, Angkor Wat continues to draw thousands of visitors anxious to see this remarkable ancient temple in the jungle.

In addition to many tourists, Buddhist monks are daily visitors to Angkor Wat, their bright orange robes making a vivid contrast with the grey stone of the temple.

 

26
Jan
11

Travel Magazine “Grands Reportages”

Cover 'Grands Reportages' January 2011

The French travel magazine “Grands Reportages” published in his January 2011 edition an overview of Buddhist destinations.

“Travelling on Buddhist land” is a stunning publication with amazing photography and detailed information about my favorite Asian destinations such as Nepal, Tibet, Thailand, Myanmar, Laos and Cambodia.

The January 2011 edition of “Grands Reportages” is for sale in the better bookshops and costs 6,00 €.

I can advise this magazine for each passionate photographer and traveler.