The Apsara National Authority has temporarily banned visitors to the third floor of the Bayon temple starting January 1. The decision was made for safety reasons as some parts of it have degraded and pose a danger to tourists. However, other parts of the temple are open to the public as usual.
Apsara National Authority spokesman Long Kosal told The Post on Thursday that a technical working group would repair the flooring and take other steps to prevent the temple from degrading too quickly. The third floor will be open to tourist as soon as repairs are completed.
“If tourists walk around while the repairs are being carried out, we fear they might be put in danger, so we have little choice but to close the area. Doing so also allows the working group to carry out the repairs without disruption.
“Conserving and repairing a temple is not like repairing or building a house. So, we cannot provide a definite date as to when the repairs will be completed,” Kosal said.
Bayon temple, with its four smiling faces, is among those at Angkor Thom. It was built between the late 12th and early 13th centuries, during the reign of King Jayavarman VII. Its sculptures depict the lives of the people of that time.
Due to ageing of materials, some parts of Bayon temple had fallen off and some sculptures had degraded. Documents indicate that the temple had been conserved and repaired continuously since the French administration.
In announcing the temple’s decay and urgent need for restoration on its Facebook page, the Apsara National Authority said: “Experts from the International Coordinating Committee for the Safeguarding and Development of the Historic Site of Angkor, also known as ICC-Angkor, had recommended closing the third floor.
“This closure makes it possible for experts to study the damage, along with other problems. It is hoped that the experts will manage the risks and determine priority areas to bring the situation under control and repair all parts that are in danger.”
Kosal said that Japan-Apsara Safeguarding Angkor (Jasa) would repair the middle of Bayon temple. The Japanese government’s safeguarding team, in 2005, collaborated with Apsara to form the joint institution of Jasa for the restoration of Angkor temples.
Japan has sent government experts to help Cambodia with conserving the temples in Angkor Park since 1994. Angkor temple areas include Angkor Wat, Banteay Kdei , Ta Prohm, Ankor Thom and the Bayon temple. They were registered as World Heritage sites in 1992.