Lumieres d'Orient / Eastern Lights
by Émile Vedel
Language : French1900 - Kailash Editions, Paris-Pondicherry, 2009 - 178 pages - Paperback Carnets de voyage, préfacés par Pierre Loti
French Navy officer Émile Vedel took an atypical route to Angkor, starting with Ceylon and South India, stopovers that allowed him to better understand the roots of Hinduism and Buddhism, and to prepare himself for the revelation at Angkor.
With a keen eye for artistic details that made a deep impression on his friend novelist Pierre Loti -- for instance his description of a classical Indian dance performance in Madurai, page 22 --, the traveler reaches Angkor with clear notions of Buddhist traditions, from Burma and after navigating through the submerged forests of the Tonle Sap.
In fourty inspired pages, he describes Siem Reap, Angkor and some temples nearby, particularly in awe with the Apsara figures. This is probably one of the best descriptions of the Angkorian complex at the time of its 'rediscovery' by Western explorers.
To supplement this reading, see Pierre Loti's Memoirs edited by Émile Vedel.
About the Travel Writer
A close friend to French writer Pierre Loti, Émile Vedel (21 Aug 1858, Marseilles - 12 Fev 1937, Tahiti, French Polynesia) was a naval officer and a writer who traveled extensively through the Far East -- he adopted as his daughter the Taihitian princess Takau-Pomare -- and wrote one of the first modern descriptions of Angkor. He died in Tahiti.
One of the first submarine commanders in the French Marine Nationale, Émile Vedel authored several travel books and novels, including Lumieres d'Orient or L'ile d'épouvante. With Pierre Loti, he translated into French Shakespeare's King Lear. He was one of the few people at Loti’s deathbed and one of the very few allowed to visit his grave within the walls of his family home on the Isle of Oléron near La Rochelle. Later on, he edited his friend's Journal and personal papers.
Ari'i-manihinihi Te-vahine-rere-atua-i-Fareia, better known as Princess Takau Pōmare-Vedel (January 4, 1887 - June 27, 1976) Princess Takau-Pomaré-Vedel, daughter of the Taihitian Queen consortJoanna Marau Taaroa a Tepau Salmon (1860-1935):