"City of Faces in Angkor Thom"
Last updated on Nov 18, 2013
All information below is subject to change
The Bayon temple is located inside Angkor Thom (Great City). It's a Mahayana Buddhist temple, but has Hindu elements
of cosmology as the temple
represents heaven and earth. It is built as a pyramid and has
54 towers with stone faces, carved on all four sides.
Watching over 200 huge smiling stone faces was spectacular. The stones are faces of Avalokiteshvara. And the smiles are known as the "Khmer Smile".
It's odd walking around and every time you turn, there will be a smiling face.
It will feel like someone is staring at you the whole time!
On top of that, you can see the famous bas-reliefs. They depict scenes from fables, and the common theme is: Good against evil (as I perceived it).
The word "bas-relief" is not a typical word I use in daily life, but to make it simple and without sounding like Wikipedia:
It's a sculpture technique where figures are carved so they stand out of its background material. In my opinion, figures can look like they're trapped in a stone.
I gazed at the Bas-reliefs for at least one and a half hour, especially at the carved war battles with elephants. The Khmer soldiers wear no helmets, bare-foot and are naked except for a belt.
And the majestic elephants were an important part of the Angkor army, used in carrying weapons and supplies, and also as mounts in battle.
Another interesting thing about the Angkor area is the "Royal Roads." These roads made it possible for transporting goods, and not to mention holding back local rebellions. So the roads were part of a military strategy.
On the other hand, this strategy didn't seem to go well because Thai soldiers managed to find their way to get in... by using the Royal Roads!
The best part of the temple are the bas-reliefs!
You'll see interesting reliefs of Khmer circus, military processions, Apsaras, demon battles and Khmer soldiers displaying Khmer boxing movements (a native martial art).
Then other reliefs display scenes from everyday life:
Markets, cockfights, food preparation and much more.
Cockfights are still one of the favorite entertainments of village men in Cambodia. So, these reliefs reflect the rural and daily Cambodian life, which exists even today.
I definitely enjoyed this place and will come back some day!
Recommended time: 1,5 hour
There are pretty much food stalls everywhere inside Angkor park, especially in Angkor Thom where Bayon is located. Find food stalls and restaurants north of temple.
Read more about restaurants in Angkor park here
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