Siem Reap September 26 2011 Monday
What a great day! If you thought that temples would be boring, try Angkor Thom; Magnificent – part of the ‘Pyramids of Asia’.
To all the group, one of the highlights of today was enjoying a superb breakfast – Cambodian style. So much to choose from that the mind boggles. We called everyone to meet for breakfast at 8:00am so we could leave on our Temple tour at 9:00am but they have said that tomorrow will be an earlier breakfast so they can enjoy more than just “weet-bix and milk, toast and vegemite”
Our guide, Lin, is very well versed in the history and the legends of the many temples around Siem Reap. He enjoys what he does, and enjoys laughing at his own jokes.
The Angkor Thom was enormous. It is a temple place that is never inhabited or slept in. It has been a place for prayers, chanting, and all things to do with the local religions. It takes up an area of 9 square kilometres, previously the last Capital of the Angorian Empire. It was built after Jayavarman VII recaptured the Angkorian Capital from the Cham invaders in 1181. The King began a massive building campaign across the empire constructing Angkor Thom as his new Capital City with existing structure. So we spent a lot of time wandering through what has become a tourist mecca. Thousands visit the area each day.
In the afternoon, after a wonderful luncheon in a ‘side of the road café’, we visited Ta Prohm, or Jungle Temple, where massive fig and Silk-cotton trees grow from the Towers and Corridors offering a Jungle atmosphere. We also took in Bayon or, Four Smiling Faces, where each of the columns had carved smiling faces pointing in the four directions; a total of over 220 faces.
There have been lots of photos taken. None of the group have lost their camera but some have lost their wallets – temporarily. Frustrating in a foreign country! Not sure if they are ‘senior’s moments’ or just the norm.
We arrived back at the magnificent hotel at 6:00pm, a quick dip in the pool before another dinner of delicious food. Bed is to be a great spot to end the day.
Being in the rainy season, Siem Reap is flooded in many areas with vehicles having to venture through the murky waters. As you get off the bus to visit a temple, lots of children are there to sell you a book for $5 or $8 or some wrist bands or whatever, for a $1. The books are history books of the Pol Pot era or stories of the Killing Fields – a reminder of the terrible atrocities of that era. The tourist currency is the US dollar. I haven’t seen any local currency yet. I asked some of the children where they came from and in clear English, “from my mother and father” was the response. Schools are free, and teach in English but many of the children can speak 3 and 4 languages before they are into high school. Handy for the 3 million tourists that now come to Cambodia each year.
Today’s “Senior” moment – revealed today but happened at Changi Airport yesterday. There is a receptacle in the toilet containing sanitizer. Some paper is provided to apply the sanitizer to wipe the seat. This unnamed group member applied it to ‘her’ seat instead of the toilet seat. A new type of hygiene!