Friday, June 27, 2008

Ancient temples

I've been in Sydney for a week now, and really love it so far! It actually reminds me a little of my hometown--Chicago. I mean, it's really completely different, but the way it is organized feels very familiar. I started working 24 hours after I arrived, and haven't had a lot of energy to write on the blog--which is a shame, because I have such a backlog of things to tell! I'll start off now telling you a little about my favorite part of my Southeast Asia trip: Angkor Wat. I had been wanting to see the ancient ruins of Angkor Wat and the surrounding temples for ages. In the past few years it has become much more accessible. If you have a little cash to spare you can fly direct to Siem Reap, Cambodia (6km outside of Angkor) from Bangkok or other nearby hubs. I had planned to come alone, but met an Australian my first day in Bangkok who decided that it sounded like a fun trip, and came along. We spent three full days touring the ruins. The more popular sites were teaming with tourists, despite the fact that it was the low season. However, there were some slightly-less-spectacular sites were you could be virtually alone. It was really, really amazing--surreal even. I would highly recommend a visit!

I took about 300 pictures over the three days I was there. I would happily sit each of you down for the full slideshow--there are many excellent ones! But I have a feeling I would lose all of my readership pretty quickly if I did that. I'll try to pick some of the more inspiring highlights.
'To give you a sense of how monumental these ancient (Buddhist and Hindu) temples are, the first doorway is somewhere around 7ft tall. The steps on this temple (Ta Keo) were very steep and plentiful. My muscles ached for days after climbing to the top! On a conservation/restoration note, many of these temples were actually completely taken apart and rebuilt as part of a conservation effort!! Can you imagine?

At the Bayon temple, over one hundred giant faces (7-9ft tall) are carved into dozens of towers.

The iconic trees of Ta Prohm. This was my favorite of all the temples. As a former biologist, current conservator, I'm very interested in biodeterioration. Ta Prohm was covered in all kinds of biological materials, including these gigantic trees. Apparently this one was in Tomb Raider, but I don't know anything about that.

The biodeterioration of the temples really lends itself to some gorgeous images. Greens, orange, black--all kinds of colors have developed over the delicate stone carvings of the temples.

One of the many wonderful things about visiting the Angkor temples was that they can be appreciated on so many different levels. As you arrive at each new temple, you are impressed by the scale, the shapes, the colors. As you go closer, you climb steps, enter through passageways, and find all sorts of interesting and beautiful details. I found myself wishing that I had a sketchbook with me. I would love to sit for hours in one spot, and see things through the eyes of an artist: capturing each small detail and relationship in order to really appreciate and understand what I see.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I want to see all 300 photos. Seriously. Next time I see you lets open a bottle of wine and have a photo slide show marathon.