The faces of Bayon. Cambodia, February 2011.

The faces of Bayon

  Cambodia and Thailand - February 2011

Dear English-speaking readers, this page is an automatic translation of an article originally written in French. I apologise for any strange sentences and funny mistakes that may have resulted. If you read French, click on the French flag below to access the original, correct text: 

I wanted to see the temples of Angkor again. In particular the Bayon and its towers, sculpted with faces with enigmatic smiles. Seeing and seeing again... I love it!

mountain temple

The Bayon is the first temple we asked to visit. A "temple-mountain" of the XIII-XIV century. This is my third visit, and I am not jaded. It continues to fascinate me.

On the first level, a maze of gray stones, in which one loses oneself a little, between the pillars decorated with apsaras, the celestial dancers, and frescos representing scenes of the daily life and episodes of the Hindu mythology.

Inside, you can offer some incense sticks to Buddha, Shiva, or whoever you like...

Apsaras (celestial dancers), at Bayon. Cambodia, February 2011.

At Bayon. Cambodia, February 2011.

At Bayon. Cambodia, February 2011.

The faces of Bayon

You have to climb some steep steps to access the upper terrace ... A magical place!

At Bayon. Cambodia, February 2011.

There, huge faces with benevolent, slightly enigmatic expressions observe you. Each tower is decorated with three or four faces. There would be nearly 200 in all.

The faces of Bayon. Cambodia, February 2011.

The faces of Bayon. Cambodia, February 2011.

You have to take your time on this terrace, stroll quietly, stop, look up, turn around, to discover a different, unexpected perspective. With each turn, it is a new string of smiles. The stone is grey-green or golden depending on the orientation of the sun.

The whole thing has something soothing, serene, really fascinating. The Bayon is one of my favorite temples.

The faces of Bayon. Cambodia, February 2011.

The faces of Bayon. Cambodia, February 2011.

But already, tour groups are coming ... Too many, too noisy.

Better to leave, in order to keep the magic of the place intact!


  Cambodia and Thailand - February 2011

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  1. I'm planning to go there soon... Those enigmatic smiles are already appeasing me in photos, I can't wait to see them in person 🙂

    By the way: I really like your blog and its tone, thank you!

  2. Fascinating indeed the Bayon, I think it's the one I'll go and see again first when I go back to Cambodia. I'll have to sort out my temple photos... 🙂

  3. The Bayon... I have fond memories of this temple... but when I went there, it was indeed a little too crowded for my taste. I imagine that this temple is one of the site's must-sees. As a result, I didn't linger there, preferring to get away from the crowds and walk a few kilometers further to some of the more remote and less popular temples... And there... it was magical! Feel free to push further... Anyway, I don't have any advice to give you... you're an expert!!!!
    Ah là là... thank you for all these photos... I'd love to go back there one day...
    Biz!!!!! And... I'm waiting for the photos from Krabi...

  4. @Lili: Thank you! As soon as I find a little time in my busy holiday schedule, I'll post a new entry on other temples...

    @Philippe: First immersion today, on Koh Phi Phi, before the Similan dive cruise in a few days.

    @auxBulles: The next bubbles are coming soon... First dives today on Koh Phi Phi: two turtles! Then on to the Similan Islands in a few days' time.

    @David: Me too, must I class my photos ... What a job!

    @ Helen: Absolutely... By the way, I've got a lot to say about the invasive tourist groups. I'm preparing a post on the subject...

    @Ysbilia: Yes, the Bayon is magnificent... But there are plenty of other temples, too. To be discovered in future blog posts!

  5. @Fabrice and @ Marie-Julie: Magic, that's the word! There are many of us, I see, who have adored the Bayon.
    My other favorite temple was Ta Prohm... but... but... Many things have changed since my previous visits... I'll have to talk about this in a future post.

  6. I also have fond memories of it. I got there when it was dark. Impossible to forget the changing faces at sunrise... No doubt about it, it's also my favorite.

  7. Yes, it's quite magical. You turn your head, the stone looks back at you; you look up, it flashes you a mysterious smile; you scan all those faces, then you see that they're actually looking much further away.

    Yes, when the tourist crowds arrive, they make you dizzy. You lose your travel buddy because you'd rather flee to the other corners of Angkor Thom 😀 I savored my little stroll to the Baphuon via a long mineral alley, then the shady paths, the sacred pool that gives a refreshing impression, the hesitation "should I climb or not?" in front of the Phimeanakas....

  8. My favorite temple in Angkor! There's such a peaceful atmosphere here...strange, in fact, knowing that you're being watched with all your eyes!