Tonle Sap Lake (Chong Kneas)
The Big Lake Tonle Sap (Chong Kneas)
floating-village_chong_kneas_6Tonle Sap Lake Floating Village: Chong Kneas Tonle Sap Lake – Road to Chong Kneas Large paddy fields on both sides of the road Village of Chong Kneas, Tonle Sap Lake, Siem Reap, Cambodia, Indochina, Asia The road going to the village of Chong Kneas, Tonle Sap Lake The floating village As soon as you enter the village, you’ll see rows of tourist boats docked closely together.

You’ll also start smelling that fishy smell that seems to be present with river villages. One look at the water and you realize that it’s not even remotely clean. But such is life. People in the village still use it for washing and bathing. The floating village is rather small. After about 20 minutes of going slowly on the boat, you’ll reach the large Tonle Sap lake. On the way there, however, you’ll see many interesting sights. Tonle Sap Lake – Chong Kneas moving home The boat is pulling the floating house to a new location Tonle Sap Lake – Chong Kneas residents Residents moving about Tonle Sap Lake –

Chong Kneas woman cooking Cleaning a coconut by the lake Tonle Sap Lake – Chong Kneas floating houses A tourist boat passing by the floating houses The schools This school is probably one of the most famous schools in Cambodia. Even before seeing it in person, I’d seen it several times in other travelers’ photos. Sadly, school hours were over when I arrived so I didn’t actually see any kids. Tonle Sap Lake – Chong Kneas school Chong Kneas Elementary School Some kids went back home by boat, while others went by foot. Since the water level wasn’t that high yet, there was a large area of dry land along one side of the boats so the kids could still walk home. There was a school basketball court also, which will make you wonder how that could be possible. But as soon as you see the court, you’ll see the genius behind it. The floating court has rails on all sides, so the ball and the kids will always stay inside no matter what happens. The fish and crocodile farms This farm is probably the ‘highlight’ of the Chong Kneas visit (other than the village and the lake itself).

The fish farm is a catfish farm and visitors have the chance to feed them. When we came, the fish weren’t that excited about the food that we threw in. I suppose they were already full of food thrown in by previous visitors. As more visitors stop by the farms, the lady who keeps an eye on the place looks weary when new visitors fed the fish. No wonder, you really can kill fish by overfeeding them. There is a crocodile farm with about ten crocodiles right next to the fish farm. Most of them hide, but you can still see some of them clearly, whether they’re sleeping or yawning. Tonle Sap Lake

– Chong Kneas crocodiles Good life for the crocodile There are also a lot of catfish heads floating around the crocodile’s cage. So apparently the fish from the farm gets fed to these crocodiles. The rooftop You can also go to the 2nd and 3rd story of the farm for a great view overlooking the floating village and Tonle Sap Lake. It looks like there’s another outlook point not far from the farm, must be another tourist spot, but I’m not sure if they have a crocodile or fish farm as well. From the rooftop, you can see how big the lake really is. It’s so huge, that even though it really is a lake, it looks more like a muddy colored ocean. It’s great to spend some time here. You can see everything from the top; the lake, the hill, the boats, the people. Definitely a good place for taking pictures. Tonle Sap Lake

– Chong Kneas view Scenery from the rooftop of the crocodile farm The big rain When we went, it was very windy and we could actually see clouds darkening in the distance. With that, all hope for a sunset was lost because the village would likely receive a big dose of rain very soon (it hadn’t rained in the past few days and it was the beginning of the rainy season). Tonle Sap Lake

– Chong Kneas rain Clouds darkening in the distance As minutes passed, the wind grew stronger and stronger and the lake started to have serious waves. The floating houses moved randomly, and people became busy preparing for the rain. Some kids were playing around by throwing an empty water bottle against the the wind, only to catch the bottle again when the wind pushed it back towards them. Playing around with the laws of physics looked fun! With the almost certainty of rain, we decided to head back to town before it started to pour. Even though it hadn’t actually rained in Chong Kneas, there was no doubt it was already raining in Siem Reap. Then everything was done in a hurry. We journeyed back to the boat docks and then went straight to the tuktuk and put the rain/wind shield up. While I knew I’d be safely tucked inside the tuktuk, protected from wind and rain, I wondered how my tuktuk driver will fare. Luckily, he had his rain jacket ready and put it on just before we entered the rainy area. So although I didn’t get to see the sunset, the storm experience was nonetheless very interesting. For anyone who wants to see a world apart from the Angkor temples and Siem Reap, a trip to Chong Kneas at the Tonle Sap Lake is definitely in order. Other Tonle Sap Lake experiences If Chong Kneas is somewhat too mild for your taste or you wish for a more intense Tonle Sap experience, consider making a trip to Kampung Phluk, Kampung Khleang, or the Prek Toal bird sanctuary. Kampung Phluk and Kampung Khleang are permanent river villages also located on the Tonle Sap lake. However, these villages are much larger than Chong Kneas and are less visited by tourists. So you can get a somewhat more intimate experience with the village and villagers.

The Prek Toal tour is another Tonle Sap Lake experience, but more involved as it will take at least the entire day and will possibly last overnight. Prek Toal is a bio reserve and is the place for seeing a large number of birds. If birding is your thing, check out Sam Veasna and Osmose for their ecotourism tour. On a side note, the birds are visible only in the dry season. You can technically go year round, but just don’t expect lots of bird sightings.

Banteay Srei Temple - Siem Reap
Banteay Srei Temple - Siem Reap
The intricate reliefs carving of red colored sandstone Banteay Srei temple, Siem Reap, Cambodia. Banteay Srei or Banteay Srey is a 10th century Cambodian temple dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva. Located in the area of Angkor in Cambodia. It lies near the hill of Phnom Dei, 25 km (16 mi) north-east of the main group of temples that once belonged to the medieval capitals of Yasodharapura and Angkor Thom. Banteay Srei is built largely of red sandstone, a medium that lends itself to the elaborate decorative wall carvings which are still observable today. The buildings themselves are miniature in scale, unusually so when measured by the standards of Angkorian construction. These factors have made the temple extremely popular with tourists, and have led to its being widely praised as a “precious gem”, or the “jewel of Khmer art.

Banteay Srei is a temple in Cambodia built in honor of female deities, representing strength, unity, and safety. This pilot is now sustained as an organization that provides social support, healing arts, reproductive health education, life skills-building, leadership development to young Southeast Asian women impacted by sexual exploitation in their communities.

Banteay Srei is dedicated to providing the tools and support necessary for young Southeast Asian women and girls to empower themselves. Based in Oakland, we are an organization that works with young women and girls ages 14-19, that are at-risk or are being sexually exploited. Banteay Srei believes that every person is entitled to living a free, happy and healthy life that is full of options. Through our programs and events that promote leadership development, cultural awareness and self-empowerment, we are working towards creating a generation of fierce, independent and self-empowered young Southeast Asian women.

History of Banteay Srey Temple

Consecrated on the 22nd of April, 967 A.D, Bantãy Srĕi was the only major temple at Angkor not built by a monarch; its construction is credited to a courtier named Yajnavaraha / Yajñavarāha, who served as a counsellor to king Rājendravarman II .The foundational stela says that Yajñavarāha, grandson of king Harṣavarman I was a scholar and philanthropist who helped those who suffered from illness, injustice, or poverty. His pupil was the future king Jayavarman V (r. 968- ca. 1001) Originally, the temple was surrounded by a town called Īśvarapura.

It has been speculated that the temple’s modern name,Bantãy Srĕi, is due to the many devatas carved into the red sandstone walls.

Yajñavarāha’s temple was primarily dedicated to the Hindu god Śiva. Originally, it was carried the name Tribhuvanamaheśvara — great lord of the threefold world — in reference to the Shaivite liṅga that served as its central religious image. However, the temple buildings appear to be divided along the central east-west axis between those buildings located south of the axis, which are devoted to Śiva, and those north of the axis, which are devoted to Viṣṇu.

The temple’s modern name, Bantãy Srĕi — citadel of the women, or citadel of beauty — is probably related to the intricacy of the bas relief carvings found on the walls and the tiny dimensions of the buildings themselves.[6] Some have speculated that it relates to the many devatas carved into the walls of the buildings

Materials and style

The temple was rediscovered only in 1914, and was the subject of a celebrated case of art theft when André Malraux stole four devatas in 1923 (he was soon arrested and the figures returned). The incident stimulated interest in the site, which was cleared the following year, and in the 1930s Banteay Srei was restored in the first important use of anastylosis at Angkor. Until the discovery of the foundation stela in 1936, it had been assumed that the extreme decoration indicated a later date than was in fact the case. To prevent the site from water damage, the joint Cambodian-Swiss Banteay Srei Conservation Project installed a drainage system between 2000 and 2003. Measures were also taken to prevent damage to the temples walls being caused by nearby trees.

Unfortunately, the temple has been ravaged by pilfering and vandalism. When toward the end of the 20th century authorities removed some original statues and replaced them with concrete replicas, looters took to attacking the replicas. A statue of Shiva and his shakti Uma, removed to the National Museum in Phnom Penh for safekeeping, was assaulted in the museum itself.

The Sanctuary

The sanctuary is entered from the east by a doorway only 1.08 m in height: inside is an entrance chamber (or maṇḍapa) with a corbelled brick roof, then a short corridor leading to three towers to the west: the central tower is the tallest, at 9.8 m. Glaize notes the impression of delicacy given the towers by the antefixes on each of their tiers. The six stairways leading up to the platform were each guarded by two kneeling statues of human figures with animal heads; most of those now in place are replicas, the originals having been stolen or removed to museums.

History of Jayavarman VII ( The King of Khmer Empire)
History of Jayavarman VII ( The King of Khmer Empire)
 Jayavarman VII was born around 1120 or 1125, son of King Dharanindravarman II (r. 1150 -1160) and queen Sri Jayarajacudamani. He married a very religious, strong-minded, and devote princess, Jayarajadevi, who exerted an important influence on him, both before he gained the throne and during the early years of his reign.
He was one of the most forceful and productive kings of the Khmer Empire of Angkor. He expanded the empire to its greatest territorial extent and engaged in a building program that yielded numerous temple, highways, rest houses, and hospitals.
Though practically nothing is known of Jayavarman’s childhood and youth, it is clear that during his late 30s and early 40s he settled in the neighboring kingdom of Champa, in what is now the central region of Vietnam.
When his father died, his brother or cousin – Yasovarman – appears to have claimed the throne, in which Jayavarman seems to renounce and to have gone on a voluntary exile to Champa. He left his wife and went to Champa alone.
In 1166 Tribhuvanadityavarman, a court official, usurped the throne of King Yasovarman. When Prince Jayavarman received word of a palace rebellion, he hastened to return to Cambodia – perhaps to support King Yasovarman II or to assert his own rights to the throne. But his was too late. When he arrived, Yasovarman was already dead and the usurper firmly seated on the throne. Jayavarman seemed unwilling to attempt to overthrow Tribhuvanadityavarman by force; instead he decided to remain in his homeland and to await an opportunity to assert his own claim to the throne.
Some 12 years later, when Jayavarman was in his late 50s, that opportunity came as a result of a Cham invasion in 1177, which brought about the demise of Tribhuvanadityavarman, the sacking of Angkor, and its subjection to foreign rule. In this situation Jayavarman organized a struggle for independence and in less than five years he succeeded in driving out the invaders and establishing his hegemony over all his Cambodian rivals.
Finally in 1181, at the age of 61, he was crowned a sole king of Khmer Empire and began a brilliant reign of more than 30 years, during which he brought the empire to its zenith, both in terms of territorial expansion and of royal architecture and construction.
Jayavarman VII was a warrior. The greatest military achievement of his reign – perhaps the greatest of the entire history of Cambodia – was the capture and sack of the capital of its rich and powerful neighbor, Champa, in 1190. His military activities also bringing southern Laos, portions of the Malay Peninsula and Burma under his control.
But increasingly he devoted his energies and organizational capacities to the kind of religious and religio-political construction projects that had been carried on by his royal predecessors. He built a large number of awesome new temples, including the Bayon, a distinctively Mahayana Buddhist central pyramid temple designed to serve as the primary locus of the royal cult and also as his own personal mausoleum; personal funerary temples of the Mahayana type, which were dedicated to his mother and father; and a series of provincial temples, which housed reduced replicas of the Royal Buddha. He rebuilt the city of Angkor Thom and rebuilt and extended the system of highways, which radiated outward from the Bayon and the royal palace and reached far into the provinces. In addition, he constructed 121 rest houses along these roads.
During his reign, the King built 102 hospitals, which he dispersed throughout his kingdom. Those hospitals were built in an attempt to improve conditions of the King’s subject.
Jayavarman succeeded during his lifetime in creating a legacy that few monarchs in Khmer history have been able to equal. He was more than 90 years old when he died in around 1215.

“In 1190, King Sri Jaya Indravarman ong Vatuv made was against the King of Kambujadesa. The latter sent the Prince (Vidyanandana) at the head of the troops of the Kambuja to take Vijaya and defeat the king. He captured the king and had him conducted to Kambujadesa by the Kambuja troops. He proclaimed Suryajavarmadeva Prince In, brother-in-law of the king of Kambujadesa, as king of the city of Vijaya.” Inscription referring to the capture of Cham city by King Jayavarman VII
“On the great routes there are places of rest like our post relays” Chou Ta-kuan referring to the rest houses.
“He suffered from the maladies of his subjects more than from his own; for it is the public grief which makes the grief of kings, and not their own grief.” Inscription referring to the hospitals.
“asceticism, her virtuous conduct, her tears, her likeness to Sita, found by her husband and then separated from him, her body thinned by observances, her religion, her devotion to him, her joy at this ultimate return.” Inscription describing Queen Jayarajadevi after her husband went into exile.

Phnom Bakheng - Siem Reap
Phnom Bakheng - Siem Reap
 Phnom Bakheng at Angkor, Cambodia, is a Hindu temple in the form of a temple mountain. Dedicated to Shiva, it was built at the end of the 9th century, during the reign of King Yasovarman (889-910). Located atop a hill, it is nowadays a popular tourist spot for sunset views of the much bigger temple Angkor Wat, which lies amid the jungle about 1.5 km to the southeast. The large number of visitors makes Phnom Bakheng one of the most threatened monuments of Angkor. Constructed more than two centuries before Angkor Wat, Phnom Bakheng was in its day the principal temple of the Angkor region, historians believe. It was the architectural centerpiece of a new capital, Yasodharapura, that Yasovarman built when he moved the court from the capital Hariharalaya in the Roluos area located to the southeast.

An inscription dated 1052 AD. and found at the Sdok Kak Thom temple in present-day Thailand states in Sanskrit: “When Sri Yasovardhana became king under the name of Yasovarman, the able Vamasiva continued as his guru. By the king’s order, he set up a linga on Sri Yasodharagiri, a mountain equal in beauty to the king of mountains. Scholars believe that this passage refers to the consecration of the Phnom Bakheng temple approximately a century and a half earlier.

Surrounding the mount and temple, labor teams built an outer moat. Avenues radiated out in the four cardinal directions from the mount. A causeway ran in a northwest-southeast orientation from the old capital area to the east section of the new capital’s outer moat and then, turning to an east-west orientation, connected directly to the east entrance of the temple.

Phnom Bakheng is a symbolic representation of Mount Meru, home of the Hindu gods, a status emphasized by the temple’s location atop a steep hill. The temple faces east, measures 76 meters square at its base and is built in a pyramid form of six tiers. At the top level, five sandstone sanctuaries, in various states of repair, stand in a quincunx pattern—one in the center and one at each corner of the level’s square. Originally, 108 small towers were arrayed around the temple at ground level and on various of its tiers; most of them have collapsed.

Jean Filliozat of the Ecole Francaise, a leading authority on Indian cosmology and astronomy, interpreted the symbolism of the temple. The temple sits on a rectangular base and rises in five levels and is crowned by five main towers. One hundred four smaller towers are distributed over the lower four levels, placed so symmetrically that only 33 can be seen from the center of any side. Thirty-three is the number of gods who dwelt on Mount Meru. Phnom Bakheng’s total number of towers is also significant. The center one represents the axis of the world and the 108 smaller ones represent the four lunar phases, each with 27 days. The seven levels of the monument represent the seven heavens and each terrace contains 12 towers which represent the 12-year cycle of Jupiter. According to University of Chicago scholar Paul Wheatley, it is “an astronomical calendar in stone.”

Phnom Bakheng is one of three hilltop temples in the Angkor region that are attributed to Yasovarman’s reign. The other two are Phnom Krom to the south near the Tonle Sap lake, and Phnom Bok, northeast of the East Baray reservoir.

Following Angkor’s rediscovery by the outside world in the mid-19th century, decades passed before archeologists grasped Phnom Bakheng’s historical significance. For many years, scholars’ consensus view was that the Bayon, the temple located at the center of Angkor Thom city, was the edifice to which the Sdok Kak Thom inscription referred. Later work identified the Bayon as a Buddhist site, built almost three centuries later than originally thought, in the late 12th century, and Phnom Bakheng as King Yasovarman’s state temple.

Banteay Somre - Siem Reap
Banteay Somre - Siem Reap
 Banteay Samre’s history is very hard to trace and much is left to speculation and interpretation. The name translated as “Citadel of the Samre”, is not a distinct reference to its date of construction. Whats more, no inscription has been found for this temple, however historians have generally consented that it would have been built around the same time as Angkor Wat, as the architecture is of the classic art of the same period, although the architecture also suggests that amendments were made to the temple during the Bayon period.

Banteay Samre in Cambodia is somewhat “off the beaten track”, located away from the more visited Angkor temples. The temple is named after the Samre, an ancient ethnic Indochinese tribe most likely related to the Khmers. Banteay, is a Khmer word for citadel. In its architecture and style the temple bears a very similar resemblance to both its neighbour, Banteay Srey, and the majestic Angkor Wat itself. Banteay Samre highlights would have to include the interior moat which when filled with water must have given the temple a mystical and peaceful sensation. And then of course, the temple’s location and surroundings set within beautiful rice paddies and local villages.

Distance from Siem Reap to Banteay Samre temple is 18km (28 minutes by car, 37 minutes by Tuk Tuk, approx 2 hours by bicycle). You can visit Banteay Samre anytime, and it’s never particularly crowded due to its remote location. Allow up to an hour to explore, and later in the afternoon the sun will cast its best light over the temple. Our Banteay Samre plan is useful for orientation. An expert local tour guide from Siem Reap will ensure you get the very best from your visit and the journey from Siem Reap

Koh Ker Temple - Siem Reap
Koh Ker Temple - Siem Reap
 Koh Ker is an Angkorian site in northern Cambodia. 100 km northeast of Angkor itself, it was briefly the capital of the Khmer empire between 928 and 944 under king Jayavarman IV and his son Hasavarman II.After the Khmer empire had been established in the Angkor area (Roluos), Jayavarman IV moved the capital in 928 almost 100 km northeast to Koh Ker. Here a vast number of temples were built under his reign, until his successor returned to the Angkor area about twenty years later.

The Koh Ker site is dominated by Prasat Thom, a 30 meter tall temple mountain raising high above the plain and the surrounding forest. Great views await the visitor at the end of an adventurous climb. Garuda, carved into the stone blocks, still guard the very top, although they are partially covered now.

Across the site of Koh Ker there are many prasat or tower sanctuaries. A couple still feature an enormous linga on a yoni that provides space for several people. The outlet for the water that was sanctified by running it over the linga can be seen in the outside wall of one of them. In other cases, three prasat stand next to each other, dedicated to Brahma, Shiva and Vishnu. Most of them are surrounded by libraries and enclosures, many also had moats. At that time, the roofs were still made of wood. Today, only the holes for the beams remain in the stone structures.

The site is still 3 hours away from Siem Reap, the area has been demined only recently and basic visitors’ facilities are just being built. This makes Koh Ker very attractive for anyone who would like to experience lonely temples partially overgrown by the forest and inhabited only by birds, calling to each other from the trees above.

Baphoun Temple - Siem Reap
Baphoun Temple - Siem Reap
 The Baphuon is a temple at Angkor, Cambodia. It is located in Angkor Thom, northwest of the Bayon. Built in the mid-11th century, it is a three-tiered temple mountain built as the state temple of Udayadityavarman II dedicated to the Hindu God Shiva. It is the archetype of the Baphuon style. The temple adjoins the southern enclosure of the royal palace and measures 120 metres east-west by 100 metres north-south at its base and stands 34 meters tall without its tower, which would have made it roughly 50 meters tall. Its appearance apparently impressed Emperor Chengzong of Yuan China’s late 13th century envoy Chou Ta-Kuan during his visit from 1296 to 1297, who said it was ‘the Tower of Bronze…a truly astonishing spectacle, with more than ten chambers at its base.’ In the late 15th century, the Baphuon was converted to a Buddhist temple. A 9 meter tall by 70 meter long statue of a reclining Buddha was built on the west side’s second level, which probably required the demolition of the 8 meter tower above, thus explaining its current absence. The temple was built on land filled with sand, and due to its immense size the site was unstable throughout its history. Large portions had probably already collapsed by the time the Buddha was added.

Pen and watercolor reconstruction of what the temple may have looked in the 11th century by Lucien Fournereau in 1889

The unfinished reclining Buddha on the west side of the temple. By the 20th century, much of the temple had largely collapsed, and restoration efforts have since proven problematic: a first effort begun in 1960 was interrupted by the coming to power of the Khmer Rouge, and records of the positions of the stones were lost. A second attempt started in 1995 by a team of French-led archeologists as of 2005 was still ongoing, restricting visitor access. As of November 2010, partial visitor access was once again allowed, though not to the central structure.

In April 2011, after 51 years, the archaeologists finished the restoration of the temple. King Norodom Sihamoni of Cambodia and Prime Minister Francois Fillon of France were among those who first toured the renovated temple during the inauguration ceremony on July 3, 2011

The East Mebon - Siem Reap
The East Mebon - Siem Reap
 The East Mebon(Khmer: ប្រាសាទមេបុណ្យខាងកើត) is a 10th Century temple at Angkor, Cambodia. Built during the reign of King Rajendravarman, it stands on what was an artificial island at the center of the now dry East Baray reservoir.

The East Mebon was dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva and honors the parents of the king. Its location reflects Khmer architects’ concern with orientation and cardinal directions. The temple was built on a north-south axis with Rajendravarman’s state temple, Pre Rup, located about 1,200 meters to the south just outside the baray. The East Mebon also lies on an east-west axis with the palace temple Phimeanakas, another creation of Rajendravarman’s reign, located about 6,800 meters due west.

Built in the general style of Pre Rup, the East Mebon was dedicated in 953 AD. It has two enclosing walls and three tiers. It includes the full array of durable Khmer construction materials: sandstone, brick, laterite and stucco. At the top is a central tower on a square platform, surrounded by four smaller towers at the platform’s corners. The towers are of brick; holes that formerly anchored stucco are visible.

The sculpture at the East Mebon is varied and exceptional, including two-meter-high free-standing stone elephants at corners of the first and second tiers. Religious scenes include the god Indra atop his three-headed elephant Airavata, and Shiva on his mount, the sacred bull Nandi. Carving on lintels is particularly elegant.

Visitors looking out from the upper level today are left to imagine the vast expanses of water that formerly surrounded the temple. Four landing stages at the base give reminder that the temple was once reached by boat.

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