Thursday 3 September 2015

Cambodia Adventures : 6. Temple Raidin', Findin' Heaven on Earth and Akim, the Lost Child of Angkor Wat....


I decided to do a seperate blog about my explorations of the Temples of Angkor as they are so magnificent I thought I'd do some 'Temple Video Diaries' to give you a chance to see a snippet of my raidin' adventures in the ancient temples of Angkor....

Enjoying the sunset at Heaven on Earth at the waters of Angkor Wat...

Temple Video Diaries

Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat was built in the early 12th Century is quite literally Heaven on Earth and is the icon of National Pride for Cambodians. The temple was primarily a Hindu Temple with the word 'Angkor' meaning 'Capital' and 'Wat' from Buddhism meaning 'Temple' until is changed to a Buddhist Temple in the 13th Century and then coalition-ed to be a Hindu and Buddhist Temple owned by the Vietnamese would you believe! Angkor Wat is 65 metres high and no other building in Siem Reap is allowed to be taller. It is surrounded by a moat 3km long both sides which used to have crocodiles in to protect the temple. The jagged stones on the three towers which are dedicated to gods Vishnu, Shiva and Brahma that point upwards, symbolise the praying hands.

Akim, the Lost Child of Angkor Wat

During my travels exploring the temples of Angkor, I was introduced to a young Cambodian woman called Akim who was quite literally the 'lost child of Angkor' and was lucky enough to hear her fascinating story....

Born to a Chinese father and Cambodian mother, a mix which is extremely disapproved of concerning races and marriage, her father abandoned her and her brothers and sisters to run off with another woman to the Thai border. Unable to cope, her mother went slightly mad and told her kids who would go to rubbish tips to find food, to go find their grandfather who was the chief Abbot at Angkor Wat in the 1980's and told them they'd would be able to learn how to read and write . Being only five years old, her and her siblings set of to Angkor Wat in search of their grandfather who they eventually found but were treated with coldness and had little interest in them. He did however let them stay at the Pagoda at Angkor Wat where she and her sisters had to have their heads shaven and pretend to be boys so they could stay at the strictly male monk dorms. For five years, the monks taught them how to read and write their scripts and went hunting in the surrounding forests to find food and bring it back to the Pagoda. She spent her childhood swimming in the pools in the temple and running up and down the towers.  When she was ten, she received a red bicycle from her grandfather, the Abbott, and had to control her joy to the reserved nature of Buddhist monks - he had taught her to be patient and things will come instead of demanding constantly and her time with the monks made her appreciate the rewards you can get from kindness. She told me how her days were filled with sadness and loneliness, not knowing if her life was ever going to change or where her future was going and would sit in the lofty towers talking to Buddha and feeling the spirits of the three gods Vishnu, Shiva and Brahma for answers to her prayers, aswell as sitting and falling asleep to her grandfathers ashes in the stupa at the pagoda after he'd passed away.

At ten, she left the pagoda and went to work in Siem Reap, cleaning a restaurant. Mature beyond her years, at 13 she was soon running the restaurant and signed a 10 year contract at 15 years old to have the restaurant which is now the Blue Pumpkin cafe where she met her future husband, a dutch man named Chris.....and believes good things will eventually come round to good people in the eyes of Buddha - you just have to be calm and patient. 

What a story!    

1. Temple Video Diary : Sunrise at Angkor Wat


2. Temple Video Diary : Inside Angkor Wat

Having my fortune told by a Buddhist place a Khmer script on your head and stick a peg through the page in the book which the monk will read if its good. If you pick a bad fortune three times, they have to cleanse you with holy water to purify you and bring you good luck. Luckily, it was third time lucky for me and my reading was I will experience bad luck and failed attempts but I will be enlightened in!

 The Churning of the Ocean of Milk between the Demons and Gods with Vishnu and Serpent King Naga in the centre

37 hairstyles of Asparas in Angkor Wat!!!

 My trusty Cambodian Guide Vannek...

The buddhas are headless as they were stolen in the civil war which followed the Khmer Rouge, the heads were taken to be sold or kept as the whole Buddha was far too heavy to steal!


3. Temple Video Diary : The Holy Summit of Angkor Wat!

The secret in the crux of the Ancient Holy Temple of Angkor Wat is.........................  ........a cat milking her kittens with Buddha!?!?!? what the.....????

Very lucky to catch these young monks at the sunset of Angkor Wat


Ta Phrom

Nicknamed the 'Tomb Raider' Temple, 'Ta Phrom' means 'Grandfather of the Temple/City' and the filming location for the film Tomb Raider and stands as a temple ruin from the 12th Century 1186.

Temple Raidin' at dawn.....

4. Temple Video Diary: Tomb Raiding Ta Phrom at Dawn

5. Temple Video Diary: Ta Phrom Echo Shrine

6. Temple Video Diary: Digging Deeper into Ta Phrom

Ta Phrom is a special temple as giant 'Spung' trees engulf the temple ruins and conceal the ancient bas-reliefs. The trees are seeded by birds flying over the temple when it was abandoned for hundreds of years and drop spung seeds which are then sprouted and grow into these gigantic trees up to 500 years old. The temple will fall apart if the tree roots are removed and the tree will die of the temple is collapsed so they need eachother to survive! The tops of the trees have had to be cut so that they do not fall down in a storm and destroy more of the temples. 

 Selfie time!

The 'Tomb Raider' tree where Angelina Jolie picks a Jasmine Flower as Lara Croft in the movie back in 2000

No Jasmine flowers exist as Ta Phrom and it is now blocked off from picking fingers, so I followed the closest I could in the footsteps of Lara Croft...

Can you spot the Apsara face peeking through the tree hole? Spooky... 


Temple of Bayon

Elephants at the South Gate of Angkor Thom 

Video Diary: The Many Faces of Bayon

Pukker up!

Catching up with Buddha on route.....

Preah Khan Temple

The Temple of many mirrors......

A Buddhist Nun who blessed me

Tomb Raider!

Banteay Srei Temple 

37 kms out on a motorbike, Banteay Srei possesses some of the most beautiful carvings in the history of time dedicated to the Hindu God Shiva.

Thanks with sticking with the Temple Raidin' hope you enjoyed it......

All from me for now!


Siem Reap, Cambodia

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