Angkor National Museum
According to Mr.Wichai Poolprasert, Sales and Marketing Manager, you can do the tour through the Museum in minimum one hour. However, I consider that one hour will be just the appetizer.
It is a huge smart space to walk without hurry, while every gallery is itself a world of history, culture, identity and appreciation for a fascinating millenarian culture.
Mr.Wichai Poolprasert, a Thai national, has been in Cambodia since 1992 dedicated to hotel management. Now he is at the Angkor National Museum. He guided me to the hall and explained that the visitors are introduced through a video that is available in eight languages. As I admired the combination of modern and traditional architecture of the Museum, he said that the designers were both Khmer and Thai professionals that created the whole structure inspired in the ancient Angkorian temples.
From the hall you come inside the Thousand Buddhas gallery, an evident inspiration on the Preah Poan hall of Angkor Wat. Several statues of Buddha fill the space, most of then of the Theravada school of Buddhism, the one of Cambodia and South East Asia. Mr.Wichai Poolprasert says that the images belong to different centuries in a spam of time of two thousand years.
The next room is located after a bridge corridor, enough wide and attractive to be the site for meetings and coctel celebrations and it is offered for such purpose, explains Mr.Wichai Poolprasert. Then you open the big door to the history of the Khmer Empire. A map welcomes the visitor showing the place of what was the ancient Cambodia in the Asian context among the most prominent civilizations of the first Millennium. The visitor can get an idea of the Angkorian kings. Every king imposed his own style in art, architecture and religiosity and built his own Mountain Temple.
Every place has screens and the possibility to access to videos in the eight languages to get a good explanation of ever gallery. There are many pieces in exhibition from most of the temples: Every piece is a story to contemplate, says Mr.Wichai Poolprasert.
We find on our way a collection of columns from different centuries and kings, many of them with elaborated carving. The most beautiful carving means that the king was living in a peaceful period. If there is peace, there is enough time for art, he says.
Visiting a museum means walking and it can be tiring for many people, causing that the last galleries could be seen without most attention. But the Angkor Museum prevents it by placing along the tour path resting sites where visitors can sit down and enjoy a drink in a relaxing atmosphere.
We go inside the room dedicated to the Bayon Buddhist temple with its four-face-towers attributed to King Jayavarman VII (13th century). Mr.Wichai Poolprasert says that foreign visitors to the Museum come especially from Asia like Japan, then after European (French and British leading) and US Americans. Doubtless, the Museum complete the visit to the temples, because offer material and analysis to the experience.
After Bayon we find the model of Angkor Wat that can be appreciated after a five minutes movie. The lights of the room combined to highlight the model. The Angkor Wat model is half cut in a way that you can appreciate the interior of the biggest Angkorian temple and the real heights of the towers, especially the central one that rises actually 65 meters above the ground.
Leaving the gallery, you find the traditional warriors at both sites of the corridor, as they are at the entrance of Angkor Thom and that is the title of the next gallery. Mr.Wichai Poolprasert pointed that both groups at both sides have different kind of faces and size because they belong to two different groups of dynasties.
The gallery offers a great variety. One of the best places is the inscriptions where it is possible to appreciate the ancient Khmer scripts in Pali and Sanskrit. Translations in English are available at the site of every stone. A corridor is dedicated to the clothes in ancient Angkor shown especially in statues of female and male figures. Then many other things are everywhere worthy of spend time in knowing the intimacy of what was a powerful empire of old.
Then you end your tour in a huge store with any kind of Angkorian souvenirs.
After visiting the Museum, you feel that it is the perfect place to complete the tours to the temples. The Museum gives that academic idea using the best of technology.