Monday, May 28, 2007

Weekend Back to KL

Another interuption to the Siem Reap post.

I went back to Kuala Lumpur for the weekends. It has been awhile though since I was last back home (to see my parents). The weather in Kuala Lumpur is always hot and humid. Not that Johor Bahru is not hot, but it is always not as suffocating !
I have longed to see Batu Caves since back for good from Japan some 1 1/2 years ago. And finally, took a Metro bus No. 11 over the weekends to visit the cave temple. The high statue (42.7 metres) is of Lord Murugan.
The cave houses several Hindu shrines beneath its 100 metres vaulted ceiling.
Batu Caves is one of the holiest Hindu shrine in Malaysia, and has become the centre of a great religious ceremony - the Thaipusam.
There are 272 steps that a visitor has to climb in order to access the temple at the summit of the hill.
On a clear sunny day, the topmost landing of the stairway offers view of sub-urban Kuala Lumpur.
The cave is a 400-million year-old limestone cave.
Just at the entrance of the cave, a deity statue with a peacock.
At your arrival, you will be greeted by plenty of the Long-tailed Macaque, guarding the upper reaches of the complex stairways.
Visitors are fascinated at the sight of these monkeys, which they feed - sometimes involuntarily.
But as you can see he is scratching his head and wondering, just as we are taking his picture.
Have you been a stinky monkey ? The quite contented looking monkey having his (likely a male monkey) fleas picked !
Monkey drinking from fresh coconut. Thats was yummy, looks like !
This monkey looked fine, happily enjoying the remaining of the coconut water.
Hmmm, hmmm, it was fingers licking good COCONUT.
Garlands of flowers for offerings to deities. It symbolizes the good that has blossomed in oneself.
Coconut (fruit of god) is used as an object of worship - The coconut is broken and placed before the Lord. It symbolizes selfless service.
Meanwhile, the feathers of the peacock are considered auspicious and protective.
Batu Caves is said to have been discovered by K. Thamboosamy an Indian trader in the 1800s. But it became famous only after it was discovered by the American Naturalist, William Hornaday in 1878.
Then, I decided to do some shopping at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre (Twin Tower) - Suria Complex.
View of the sky bridge from the KLCC park - the 58.4 metre sky bridge at levels 41 and 42 links the Twin Towers.
KLCC Aquaria is an underwater park located beneath KLCC - upclose and personal with marine life (as well as small jungle creatures).

Took a short video inside the underwater tunnel. One can actually dive with the sharks for registered sessions.
Not sure of what species - a Monchichis monkey ?
Dinner at Jogoya Japanese Buffet Restaurant - numerous buffet lines, the Japanese sushi and sashimi station, Chinese dishes, dim sum and seafood soup, western seafood, indian delicacies, tepanyakki and stir fry seafood, juice and drinks, and desserts. Value for money.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Towering Ta Keo and Pre Rup

We bought a three-day pass for the visit. There were plenty to see - sunrise, sunset, ruins and plenty of climbing up steep stairways during exploration of the famed ruins of Angkor. Ta Keo and Pre Rup, almost as grand as Angkor Wat, these towering structures were dedicated to Hindu god Shiva.
The plainly decorated temple-mountain of Ta Keo was actually incomplete and later abandoned.
Nevertheless, even as it is, Ta Keo was still impressive. In fact it actually makes it look all the more massive.
A steep but still manageable stairway - getting down was in fact tougher.
Had it been finished, Ta Keo would undoubtedly have been one of the finest temples at Angkor.
Ta Keo is the first temple built entirely in sandstone and as such serves as a milestone in Khmer history. Enormous blocks of stone were cut to a regular size and placed in position.
The local kids that I met halfway up the second tier of the temple complex.
Pre Rup, another temple mountain, the altogether five towers of the temple is even more impressive and seemed more ancient. It might as well be one of the sites for the Indiana Jones project.
The architectural design of Pre Rup is superb and somewhat a temple of fine balance, scale and proportion.
Pre Rup means 'turning the body' and Cambodians have always regarded this temple as having funerary associations.
A gate leading towards the temple complex.
Why not a book to show the present state temple ruins and how it looks like some one thousand years ago.
Writings on the temple wall - some act of vandalism ?
Inside one of the towers - an impression of divine light from Heaven.
The korean girl that was traveling alone. Am I stalking her ? She was pretty I must say.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Bayon - Massive Stone Faces

Angkor Thom, (Great Walled City) and capital of Angkor, was built by Angkor’s greatest king, Jayavarman VII. Four huge gates (click here), each high enough to accommodate an elephant and riders, faced in each direction
At the each gate entrance to Angkor Thom, there is a row of devas on the left and asuras on the right, each row holding a naga (not shown) in the attitude of a tug-of-war. This appears to be a reference to the myth, popular in Angkor, of the Churning of the Sea of Milk. The myth relates that as the Devas pulled the snake in one direction and the gods pushed in the other, the ocean began to churn and precipitate the elements. By alternating back and forth, the ocean was "milked", forming the earth and the cosmos anew.
The south gate of Angkor Thom is the best preserved. The stone gate is capped by face-towers.
The moat enclosing the city of Angkor Thom in an area of 9 km square.
In the heart of Angkor Thom, lies the beautiful Bayon temple. The temple complex seen from the main entrance.
The most distinctive feature of the temple is the multitude of serene and massive stone faces on some thirty seven surviving towers.
These towers were actually covered in gold. The gold was stripped by later conquorers.
The giant stone faces of Bayon has become one of the most recognizable images connected to classic Khmer art and architecture - the mysterious smiling gods.
The bas-reliefs on the exterior walls - some contain real-life scenes from the historical sea battle between the Khmer and their rivals.
The temple honours not just one deity, but a host of gods found throughout the Khmer empire.
Other carvings are as well exquisite that cold carved stones kept me stunned with beauty.
It was a mind blowing experience - very unique, magnificent, beautiful, mysterious, and an architectural masterpiece.
The Bayon temple is the second must-see temple next to Angkor Wat.
The mysterious smiling gods of the Bayon temple seem to remind all (Khmer) people to live together in peace, happiness, and prosperity.