Angkor Wat Painting – Monks

My partner and I visited Angkor Wat in November of 2001. We followed Dawn Rooney’s book for six days, visiting numerous wats. We’d go out with a driver early in the morning and come back for lunch, relax for a couple of hours and then head back out later in the afternoon and stay out until just before it got dark.

At the time I had a small 35mm film camera that I bought in the Singapore airport of all places, on the way in. I didn’t want to have to carry around my “large” Pentax K1000. In retrospect, I wish I had brought that lovely little camera along with me. It’s just a beautiful, tiny camera compared to today’s DSLRs. A couple of years ago I bought my first micro 4/3 camera, the Olympus OM-D EM-5 and it’s about the same size as my Pentax and I absolutely love it. Of course, now the EM-1 is out and I have to decide when it’s time to upgrade. I don’t think I’m quite ready yet.

But I digress! This is the first post I’ve added here since 2009. I can’t believe that it’s been 5 years. To begin this and future posts, I am beginning an Angkor Wat series of digital paintings from select photos taken on that trip in 2001. The painting I just completed is of a couple of young monks sitting together on the 2nd floor of the main Angkor Wat complex. I took the picture when we came back a second time in the early morning before the crowds came. I understand that’s hardly possible anymore. It felt so magical to be there and witness the early morning activities of the monks and nuns who seemed to be living there.

Angkor Wat - Monks

Angkor Wat is the mausoleum and temple for King Suryavarmin II built in the early 10th century. It is considered to be the largest religious complex in the world and was originally built as a temple to Vishnu.

Swoyambunath Stupa, Nepal

In October, 2008, my partner and I spent a week in the Kathmandu Valley. We stayed at the Hyatt overlooking the Boudnath Temple, more correctly spelled Boudhanath stupa, although you’ll find it both ways. I’ll do another post on Boudhanath, this post is to write about our visit to Swayambunath stupa.

Swoyambunath Stupa

Swoyambunath Stupa, Nepal

Both Boudhnath and Swayambunath have similarities. Devotees circumambulating (big word for walking around) the temples. Both of these temples attract a large Tibetan following. While I was sweating in my short sleeves and light pants, many of these folks were wearing heavy parkas. Ok, not all, but it’s always interesting to see what the weather does to people. Interesting, too, because it was fairly warm in Nepal, where I understand it’s pretty damn cold in Tibet.

I bought a little book after I returned because I wanted to learn more about Swayambunath and I’d taken so many pictures as usual. The book was written by an Englishman named Richard Josephson who lived there for three years and learned about “Swoyambu” from the locals and the pilgrims who continually come to visit in great numbers.

“The origin of the Swoyambhu Valley and its human habitation, with its first town, Manjupattan, is based on the prehistoric legends of the Swoyambhu Maha-chaitya.

Among all the established chaityas and stupas in the Asian continent, the Swoyambhu Maha-chaitya is one of the most ancietn ones, and it is distinguished by its uniquely significant and artistic structures. It is a central symbol of the Buddhist heritage of Nepal.”

-page 1, Swoyambu “The Origin of the ‘Swoyambhu Mahachaitya’

So, I think it’s in order to start off with a definition of stupa, which is (usually) a dome shaped architectural monument protecting some aspect of the Buddha’s personhood, such as ashes, hair or tooth. In Nepal, where Tibetan Buddhism is widely practiced, the stupas are worshipped by circumambulation, as mentioned above.

When we arrived there a monk was chanting while flipping the pages of a small Buddhist canon. I appreciated his graciousness to allow me to take a video of him. I watch this over and over and never get tired of it.

Mani Wheels (Prayer Wheels)

As Tibetan Buddhists walk around the stupa, they twirl each mani wheel while reciting mantras, such as ‘Om Mani Padme Hum’ stimulating compassion.

Mani Prayer Wheels at Swoyambunath Stupa

Shakyamuni Buddha

Shakyamuni Buddha, Swoyambunath, Nepal

Adshobhya Buddha statue

Adshobhya Buddha statue, Swoyambunath Stupa, Nepal


Deva Avatar Bodhisattva

Deva Avatar Bodhisattva, Swoyambunath

Shukavati Lokesvara

Shukavati Lokesvara, Swoyambunath, Nepal

Prayer Flags (Everywhere, they’re so wonderfully colorful and alive)

Prayer Flags, Swoyambunath, Nepal

Peacefulness Temple, Luang Prabang

The Peacefulness Temple, or Pra Tard Kong, is a recently built temple just outside of town. It has become a favorite of locals and SE Asian visitors. The day we were there they were having some kind of ceremony, so we were unable to enter the temple. But as you can see from the pictures, there is lovely artwork decorating the doors and windows on the outside of the buildings. The view from here is very nice as well and worth a visit.

Wat Pa Khe & Wat Paphane

Here are two small wats in Luang Prabang. I only spent a short amount of time at each, in fact I have 2 pictures of each wat. Wat Pa Khe or the Monastery of the Forest of Khe Trees and Wat Paphane or Monastery of the Flame Tree Forest are both located near Mount Phousi. Wat Paphane is the older of the two, built in the late 18th century. Wat Pa Khe was built about 50 years later.

Wat Paphane is a white washed temple with a 3 tiered roof and 4 cylindrical corinthian type columns. The decoration is sparse here.

Wat Paphane Wat Paphane

Wat Pa Khe Wat Pa Khe

Wat Pa Khe is another 3-tiered roofed wat, more attractive than its neighbor but just as faded and non-descript compared to other wats in Luang Prabang. Between the 2, this is the more interesting architecturally with fine artistic detail on the doors and front gable.