Category Archives: Places I’ve Been

Places that I’ve travelled to.

The Emperor’s Many Faces: Bayon Temple, Angkor

Eyes closed, they faced the scorching 37°C summer morning with a smile. 

Our guide said that when Jayavarman the VIIth was building the Angkor Thom, he decided to adorn the centrepiece, the Bayon Temple with 216 (no less) faces of himself, as a representation of the Buddha. 64 towers in the main Bayon temple are topped by 4 huge stone faces of the King (or Buddha), one looking in each direction. As you sweat and bake in the sweltering heat, the faces continue smiling serenely and obliviously.

The temple itself has witnessed a few changes of faith over the centuries – from Buddhism to Hinduism and back, and roaming around the temple, you’ll come across remnants of crude alterations in the sculptures and carvings to transform them according to the prevailing religion of the time. The Bayon is indeed the centrepiece of the Angkor Thom; and as you walk around with your camera taking innumerable pictures of the 200+ identical faces, you can’t help but feel that though separated by centuries, the Emperor and you were, somewhat, united by a common muse.

P.S. Angkor Thom is 7 km from Siem Reap, your base for exploring the Angkor area and is easily reached by a tuktuk, that you can hire (with driver) for the day for 15-20 USD. The Angkor Pass works and will be checked so don’t forget to carry it along. Apart from Bayon, explore Phimeanakas, Baphuon, the Terrace of Lepers and the Terrace of the Elephant King and make a day trip out of it.

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What’s been your latest travel-related muse?

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A P(a)lace Fit for a King in Bangkok

‘Okay, perfect’, said the woman at the counter to us. Accidentally, following the crowds, we had made it into the ‘Clothes Rental’ section of the admission area at the Grand Palace, Bangkok.

‘What’s a clothes rental doing there?’, you may ask. Let me give you a visual hint: Continue reading A P(a)lace Fit for a King in Bangkok

Technicolor Textiles in New Delhi

Shopping for clothes is serious business in India. Try taking a stroll in one of the more famous local textile markets or bazaars in India on a Saturday and you’ll know that this isn’t a task for the faint of heart.

Lanes upon lanes of little shops snake through the labyrinth markets in all directions, crowded by women with hands full of shopping bags and buying appetites still not satiated; and shelves overflowing with fabrics of every type, every print and every color imaginable.

This photo was taken on one such Saturday afternoon in one of the many almost-identical stores in a New Delhi market, unwillingly having to brave the mad rush.

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Rainbow Shelves

More bursts of colour here: “ROY G. BIV.”

The Colors of Cappadocia

The Cappadocian landscape is legendary as a ‘moon-land’ and ‘unearthly’. But all those brown and other earth tones can start to look all the same after a few days. Breaking the monotony are the vivid colors of the local pottery, one of the other things that Cappadocia is famous for.

If you’re keen, you could even try your hand at a pottery / ceramics workshop in Avanos, the pottery hub of the region – and buy at source, so you’re sure your Cappadocian souvenir isn’t made in China!

Don't you want to just buy them all?
Don’t you want to just buy them all?

Up in the Air

How do you know you’ve grown up?

It’s when you don’t ask for the window seat on planes anymore.

– Source unknown

But if this is remotely true, count a few years (or decades) of growing up in the future for me. Give me a seat with a view and I’ll be sorted for a few hours.

These photos were taken in the South East Asian skies, over Malaysia and Thailand on the way to our destinations on our trip to Siem Reap and Bangkok-Krabi in April.

So… which one is it for you – window seat or aisle seat? 

Down, but Not Out at the Angkor Wat

The Angkor Wat was built as a Hindu temple, supposedly dedicated to Lord Vishnu, the Protector. Over many generations and time, the King’s descendants’ faith swayed towards Buddhism. So even though most of the main temple retains its Hindu characteristics, the new buildings in the complex are definitively Buddhist. As we were drifting around the compound, looking for a spot of shade, we chanced upon this Buddhist temple – plain and unadorned in comparison to the Angkor Wat, but a symbol of Cambodia’s present juxtaposed with its past. 

Chofas are characteristic to Buddhist temples in and around Thailand – these horn-like roof ornaments are usually gilded in the Thai versions, but this one’s were rather modest; and three intact, one broken.

The Chofas of the Buddhist temple
The Chofas of the Buddhist temple, Angkor Wat complex

Read more about the Angkor Wat:

Man v/s Nature: Ta Prohm, Angkor, Cambodia

The name ‘Ta Prohm‘ will probably not ring a bell in most minds.

But its Hollywood avatar as seen here, might.

Continue reading Man v/s Nature: Ta Prohm, Angkor, Cambodia