Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Wrapping up

A devata from the wall of the outer enclosure at Wat Nokor. Yellow lichen is staining the sandstone walls.
Here are a few more photos from my recent boat trip to Kompong Cham on the cruiser The Jayavarman. We paid a visit to the fusion temple of Wat Nokor, with its 13th century prasat incorporated into the modern pagoda at the same site on the outskirts of the city. I never have enough time in Kompong Cham. As an example I have still not been inside the small museum at the arts and culture offices, usually because its closed whenever I'm in town. Grrr. After the visit to Wat Nokor we headed back to the boat via an orphanage and a drinks stop at the bamboo bridge that acts as a passageway to the island of Koh Paen when the water level allows it. It costs a few riel to cross it depending on whether you are on a moto, cycle or car. There's always what seems to be a small sand-dredging operation taking place next to the bridge, as truck after truck gets loaded with sand swiped from the shallow waters of the Mekong River. We returned to the boat and enjoyed a lovely dinner aboard as we chugged our way seamlessly back to Phnom Penh, staying midstream overnight before disembarking at the boat jetty in the city after breakfast, amidst a thunderstorm I might add.
A false window with two devata either side of it at Wat Nokor
The lower register of the pediment on the western side of the central tower shows 13 women asleep. Above are more women in a pavilion also asleep and two apsaras flying above them.
There are 3 registers on this 16th century pediment. Top shows the Buddha cutting his hair, the middle, he's freeing his horse and the bottom has 7 kneeling worshippers. Its on the southern side of the central tower.
On the western gopura, over its west doorway is two scenes on the pediment and lintel of Bodhisattva being tortured, though in poor condition
The north pediment of the northern gopura has a 2-arm Lokeshava standing between two kneeling figures and a lower register of 7 worshippers holding two lotuses each
The start of the bamboo bridge that connect Koh Paen to the mainland. You can see how low the Mekong River is by the exposed sandbars.

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Catching up

The Jayavarman cruiser docked at Kompong Cham, in the shadow of the Kizuna Bridge. Passengers can be seen disembarking.
Children from a local orphanage give us a rousing welcome
I have lots of catching up to do and I'll start with some photos from my recent trip up the Mekong River to Kompong Cham on the luxury cruise boat, The Jayavarman. After visiting Wat Han Chey, we moored off the riverside road at Kompong Cham city itself and were met by a group of schoolchildren from a local orphanage who danced, sang and played music to offer us a welcome to their city. Then it was onto the bus to head for Wat Nokor, the temple on the outskirts of the city where the extensive 13th century prasat is fused with a modern Buddhist pagoda, though much of the remodelling of the ancient prasat was made in the 16th century. Essentially a temple that has undergone many changes and many faces. Today its an intriguing mixture of the old and the new. I've been there many times before but always see something new on each visit. One of the things that has always frustrated me is the central tower and its main doorway, which acts as the central shrine of the pagoda. The light is always so bad and the stone itself is very dark which means that I never get a good photo of the lintel and pediment above that particular doorway. After spending about an hour at the temple, we headed to another orphanage to look at the children's artwork and find out more about the orphanage before heading back to the cruise boat via the bamboo bridge that crosses an artery of the Mekong River to the island of Koh Paen, and is one of the tourist attractions the city has to offer. Even though its only in place for about six months of the year.
A local shell seller watches the children perform their welcome dance
2 guardians at the entrance to Wat Nokor. I'm the one in the white shirt in case you are confused.
A pediment in marvellous condition on the northern face of the central tower at Wat Nokor. It shows the Great Departure with Buddha riding his horse and below are a row of worshippers each holding two lotuses. This pediment dates from the 13th century.
One of the modern colourful Buddha statues inside the central tower at Wat Nokor
This is the eastern doorway of the central tower and shrine combined. Gold leaf highlights the pediment which shows Buddha's enlightenment and is believed to date from the 16th century.
This is detail from the lower register of the western pediment of the central tower showing a row of women, half-kneeling, each holding their head in one arm, with eyes closed, sleeping

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Lap of luxury

One of the deluxe staterooms aboard The Jayavarman
Psst... don't tell anyone but I'm having a night in the lap of cruising luxury on Thursday. The generous folks at Heritage Line, who run the new luxury cruise boat, The Jayavarman, home to 27 staterooms, one of which will be mine for the night and next day later this week, have invited me aboard to experience it for myself. I've already paid a fleeting inspection visit (and was mightily impressed) but this will give me the opportunity to spend a night on board and the next day sailing up the Mekong River from Phnom Penh to Kompong Cham (we have some shore visits lined up) and back again. Essentially it's a floating five-star hotel, a replica of the famous 1930s cruise liner Normandie and decked out in an Indochine style with Khmer artifacts. I don't often get asked to sample the finer things in life, so I grabbed this one with both hands, even if it's only for 1 day and night. Beggars can't be choosers. You can find out all about the boat here.