Most tourists only visit the famous restored temples when visiting Angkor Wat in Cambodia. However, there are many unrestored temples hidden in the jungle. When we visited Cambodia in 2013, we included a visit to the weathered ruins at Prasat Beng Mealea. As opposed to the main temples where one has the opportunity to make thousands of new friends, some of the outlying temples allow for an undisturbed view of temples long abandoned to weather and time.
Prasat Beng Mealea
This photo was taken on March 25, 2013. Specs are:
Amble along Otres 1 Beach in Sihanoukville, Cambodia, as slowly as you like, but stop to sit for a rest or to enjoy the view and you will probably be approached by a fellow ambler: one of the many ladies carrying a portable beauty kit. Once the pleasantries are out of the way (Where are you from?), you learn why she is interested in you (Pedicure? Manicure? Shave your legs?). Not actually needing any of those services, you decline politely, get up, and abandon your comfortable seat, hoping to find another one farther down the beach.
This photo was taken on February 27, 2017. Specs are:
This pier on Otres 1 Beach (near Sihanoukville, Cambodia) has seen better days. The concrete surface was reinforced with a strong rebar mesh, but the beach end has broken. Some practical person has reverted to ancient technology to create a rudimentary ladder, although a climber must be cautious to avoid stepping through the pier surface at the top.
The Khmer Times of January 21, 2016, shows a picture of this pier under construction. The picture is credited as “Supplied;” we certainly hope that this pier has lasted more than one year.
Otres 1 Beach Pier
This photo was taken on February 27, 2017. Specs are:
We saw this sign each time we walked between our hotel and downtown when we visited Sa Pa, Vietnam. Vietnam is a long, skinny, S-shaped country in Southeast Asia running north-south beside the South China Sea to the east (or “East Sea,” as it is known in Vietnam). By land, Vietnam is bordered by China to the north, by Laos to the northwest, and by Cambodia to the southwest. North-to-south, it measures about 1650 kilometers (just over 1000 miles) and is about 50 kilometers (just over 30 miles) wide at the widest point. In area, it is approximately the size of Germany. Sa Pa is in the northwest, and the cities listed in the first four lines of the bus sign are in the North with Sa Pa. Of the cities in the last line, Hue is about halfway down Vietnam and Ho Chi Minh City (“Saigon”) is in the South.
Bus from Sa Pa
This photo was taken on February 16, 2017. Specs are:
In February this year, we visited the Angkor complex near Siem Reap , Cambodia. A highlight of any visit is to climb the three levels of Angkor Wat, finally arriving above the third level at the central tower (the Bakan Sanctuary) topped by a symbolic lotus bud. The original stone steps to the top are steep and disintegrating. A wooden staircase with metal handrails is laid on top of the stone steps. While the wooden stairs are safer to climb, they are just as steep.
Because a thunderstorm was brewing during our visit to Angkor Wat, the usual long line to climb the stairs to the very top was short. We waited only a few minutes before two descending visitors brought with them the badges we needed for entry. (There is a quota for the number of visitors who can be in the Bakan Sanctuary at a given time.) Our climb and visit is described at Angkor Wet.
After walking around the Sanctuary, staying out of the rain in the covered outer periphery, we decided to risk the wet staircase down so that other people waiting below could have their turn.
The water-soaked steps were now a slick dark brown. The railings that were so shiny silver on the way up were now slippery with rust, but we, like everyone else, clung to them for support. With rusty water streaming from each hand, we descended cautiously. At the bottom, the attendants carefully removed the lanyards with permits from our necks, trying to keep the permits clean. Our guide met us and emptied his drinking water bottle on our hands to remove most of the stain. Only a visit to a nearby restroom with soap and water finally returned our hands to a normal color.
Jayavarman VII, who is generally regarded as the most powerful of the Khmer kings of Cambodia, was a Mahayana Buddhist. The Buddha figures in the Bayon Temple in Angkor Thom are modeled after him.
Jayavarman VII (1125–1218) was a king of the Kymer Empire in what is now Cambodia, ruling from 1181 to 1218, approximately. During his reign, he built temples in the Angkor complex near present-day Siem Reap. Three of his temples that are most familiar to tourists are these:
Ta Prohm, built to honor his mother
Preah Khan, built to honor his father
Bayon, built to honor himself, and the Angkor Thom city surrounding it
Angkor Wat, built in the early 12th century, already existed when Jayavarman VII built his temples.
We think that taking pictures through crystal balls can be fun and took a small one on our trip to SE Asia. The image below is a composite of two shots, taken one after another of the same scene at sunrise. For the first shot, the camera was focused on the lake in front of Angkor Wat. The second shot was focused on a two inch crystal ball held by our tour guide. The two shots were merged in Photoshop. This is similar to a technique used in landscape astrophotography to extend depth of field. (The camera was hand-held in low light, so extending depth of field via aperture wasn’t an option.)
The image in a crystal ball is inverted since it is essentially a lens, in fact, a very wide angle lens. The lake in front of Angkor Wat contains an inverted image of the temple. The crystal ball inverts the lake reflection and actual temple, placing the reflection on top and the actual temple on the bottom.