Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Behind the trees

Garudas and a pair of monk's sandals
Within the grounds of the great city of Angkor Thom there are at least seven active wats or monasteries. Each deserves a few minutes of your time, if you have any time to spare. Most people don't have that luxury as they whizz around Angkor in double-quick time, but if you do, have a nose around the wats to see what you can dig up. On my recent cycling expedition to the East Gate of the city, I popped into two of these monasteries. The first was Preah Se-ar Metrei, which is located amongst the trees on the western side of the road between the South Gate and the Bayon. The vihara is an open-sided affair made of wood and corrugated iron though the terrace that supports the vihara is bordered by a large collection of upright garudas, with their arms aloft holding up the floor of the terrace. I've seen similar figures at Banteay Chhmar. There are more beaked figures holding up the small terrace that leads onto the vihara too. Apart from a monk lounging in a hammock inside the vihara, his ear glued to his mobile phone, there was no one else at the site.
The garudas show their strength in holding up the terrace at Preah Se-ar Metrei
The open-sided vihara at Preah Se-ar Metrei monastery
The outer wall of the terrace shows garudas for much of its length
This series of damaged garudas sits on the small platform leading to the vihara at Preah Se-ar Metrei
A circular carved sculpture at Wat Tang TokThe ruined laterite shrine in the grounds of Wat Tang Tok
The second monastery was at Wat Tang Tok, as I cycled into the heart of Angkor Thom from the Victory Gate. Located to the north, it is almost opposite the walled area called Vihear Prampil Loveng. The monastery houses a ruined laterite structure that was once a small shrine with a few sandstone carvings nearby including an unusual circular sculpture and a naga head. Nearby, Vihear Prampil Loveng is a walled compound with a series of five terraces leading to a small shrine housing a Buddha that was rescued from the Bayon many years ago. It is preceded by a series of lions and elephant statues that are still in reasonable condition, and behind the shrine is a walled pond that leads onto the series of twelve towers known at Prasat Suor Prat. This is a peaceful area of Angkor Thom rarely visited by anyone and would be great for a picnic. Back on my bike, I took a route around the back of the towers and the North Khleang as I headed for my next stop, Preah Pithu.
The distinctive head of a lion at Vihear Prampil Loveng
A sturdy elephant stands guard at Vihear Prampil Loveng
A well-preserved lion head at Vihear Prampil Loveng
A view of the terraces at Vihear Prampil Loveng
The series of terraces leading to the main central shrine at Vihear Prampil Loveng
The walled pond behind the main shrine and backing onto the towers of Prasat Suor Prat



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Andy, as always, thanks for posting or sharing some of the out of the way Khmer shrines from the nooks and crannies of cambodia. I really enjoy seeing them on your website. Cambodia is indeed very beautiful, and you're lucky to get to see it for yourself. God Bless.

February 3, 2009 at 7:20 AM  
Anonymous Eric said...

Hi A,
Next move will be getting a real DSLR instead of the Cybershot...?
Cos your shots are improving by the week.

February 3, 2009 at 9:14 AM  
Blogger Andy Brouwer said...

I need a camera to fit into my pocket when I'm cutting a swathe through the remaining jungles of Cambodia's hinterland. I can't be doing with one of those large cameras where I have to change lenses every 5 minutes and decide on colour filters and all that kinda stuff. I leave that to the experts like you.
My pics are effectively snap-shots which give you the idea and then you can go off and get the really good quality pictures, and the financial rewards!

February 3, 2009 at 10:35 AM  
Blogger Andy Brouwer said...

To the first poster, yes I regard myself, every day, as extremely lucky to be living in Cambodia. Many people don't get the chance to live out their dream - I do. I am blessed with good luck.

February 3, 2009 at 10:36 AM  

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