Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Asia Trip - Day 24 - Siem Reap, Cambodia

Wed 4
Siem Reap • Explore Angkor Wat temples
Today we'll venture into the heart of ancient Angkor, a holy city that took centuries to build and whose scale is still breathtaking today—it sprawls across an area of roughly 96 square miles. The Khmer Empire aristocrats who built the temples and monuments here between AD 800-1200 were motivated by their Hindu and Buddhist beliefs. We'll begin at Angkor Wat, a masterpiece of Khmer architecture. Angkor Wat is a large pyramid temple, built between 1113 and 1150, surrounded by a great moat 570 feet wide. Note the bas-relief carvings throughout the temple, and take a moment to stand in the courtyard of this temple whose towers represent Mount Meru, the center of all physical and spiritual universes and the home to many gods in Hindu and Buddhist mythologies.
After we enjoy a taste of local hospitality during a Home-Hosted Lunch, we'll return to the hotel to rest for a bit. In the afternoon, we pass through the South Gate of Angkor Thom, the capital city of Khmer rulers. We'll see the Bayon, and make brief stops at Baphuon and the Elephants Terrace, where amazing bas-reliefs depict the huge beasts almost life-sized. At the nearby Terrace of the Leper King, equally intricate wall carvings depict rank after rank of court attendants and mystical rulers. We conclude our explorations of Angkor's most notable features with a visit to Ta Prohm. Unlike Angkor Wat, Ta Prohm has been left the way it was found, covered by a dense jungle of trees and roots and allowing you to discover this archaeological treasure just as it was found by the French in the mid-1800s.
Dinner is on your own this evening.
3 of 3 nights SOKHA ROTH HOTEL

O.k. So the above is from yesterday. I have a lot of "fine tuning" to do when I am back home anyway e.g. links and videos ...
Here is it for today:

Siem Reap • Optional Banteay Srei tour
Visit a floating village on Tonle Sap Lake
This morning, you can enjoy free time to explore the charming shops and cafes of Siem Reap, or choose to join our optional tour to visit Banteay Srei, one of the oldest and most beautifully preserved temple sites in Cambodia. Built in AD 967, Banteay Srei means “Citadel of Women,” and is recognized as a tribute to female beauty. This tour
includes lunch and also offers a glimpse into the daily life of rural Cambodia, as we stop to visit basket weavers, palm sugar farmers, and a Khmer noodle maker.
In the afternoon, we'll all gather for a cruise on Tonle Sap Lake, which translates to "Great Fresh Water Lake," and arrive at an agricultural village. Here, we'll speak with a farmer in his home and take a ride in his water buffalo cart to learn more about his way of life.
We'll have dinner together at a local restaurant this evening.

Wake-up call at 5:30 am again. Departure for optional tour. Yes, James and I signed up. Another temple? When you come so far you want to see all you can see. I have to dose up on Imodium and pink pills again too but I am determined not to miss anything, even if it us a one hour drive there.

Banteay Srei Hindu temple has the reputation of being small but with very ornate stone carvings. That is no exaggeration. The carvings are incredible especially if you consider that the temple was consecrated 967 AD.

I have heard of dovetail joints in woodworking, but in stone? And mitered corners!

Each turned spindle is also let into the frame top and bottom.

Vuthy explained the different colors that some stones were covered for example with termite mounts for hundreds of years. Things like that.

We came to a corner were they were digging out some splendid stones. Vuthy was upset that they were scraping with irons.

You can see here clearly how the stones were locked to each other.

There was a platform for photo opportunity over the wall.

Vuthy said that I shouldn't bother there but just come to were he is.

He has fun pointing out photo spots like here through a crack in the wall.

The bus stops in a village at a noodle makers place. We are shown the whole process.

The young lady and her mother make about 15 kilo noodles and the sauce/soup every day. She has a stand out at the street. It's the Cambodian breakfast. She sells out by 8:30 am with about $25. Don't know what her costs are though.


Betty is helping making bundles of the cooked noodles.

We were offered a sample but I declined since I already had a problem. Mr Stainless-Steel-Stomach here said it was quite tasty.

After driving for a while our guides stop the bus when we see a woman working in the rice paddy field. It is interesting and gives us a new understanding what hard work this is.
She is pulling up seedlings out of the nursery patch to transplant into her field. She came over to us and we could ask questions. Vuthy translated of course. Her husband doesn't like farming. He is into construction but he was sick at home. He is afraid of the leeches. She laughed about it and says that she just pulls them off. Sometimes five.

Here are two interesting videos about the lady's work:

Lunch. Happy room first which makes good impression.

Banana blossom salad. Very tasty.

I always always like the soups.

Then we are brought back to the hotel for a rest. I do take advantage of it and actually have a nap (which is a miracle for me but of course not for James).
Departure at 2:15 pm for a group excursion. It is quite a bus ride. Since it is the dry season the lake is much smaller and we have to drive on something which would be under water in monsoon season. Very rough.

This is a temple on higher ground the floating villagers tie up to when the water is high ... but right now our boat has to take us much further. The canal is very shallow and the motor is laboring.

The school is the first we see when we arrive. Vuthy explains though that education is unfortunately not mandatory nor heavily emphasized. People don't understand that it can change their lives for the better.

We stop at a little store with a "happy room" for tourists. It's also an alligator farm.

Two children came from somewhere and played happily on the front of our boat. The children are so innocent.

Fish seems to be the major thing for these people. Many women were sitting in front of their place cleaning fish for fish paste. If there was some land behind their floating house they also would have a little garden.

A floating banana tree.

We saw a good number of birds when we were going back through the canal. Here is a painted stork Vuthy pointed out. Of course for that sort of picture taking my iPhone is not good enough.

James and I had to snicker. Riparian entertainment (for those who watch "Hyacinth in Keeping up Appearances" on PBS)

We don't go far with the bus before we are treated to "local transportation". Water buffalo carts. The creatures really seem to be very gentle. Not more then a blanket on the wooden slats and of course no shock absorbers on the wooden wheels.

The time of the day when the cows come home. Very peaceful.

Trying a selfie.

Last stop: dinner!

It is still early and no wake-up call tomorrow morning. James and I ask to be dropped off at the night market. Vuthy says he will do the dropping very gently.

It was difficult but we find what we need and take a tuk tuk to the hotel. We show the guy the hotel card and ask how much. Three fingers = $3. Half way through we get the feeling he is not quite sure we're to go. He ask another tuk tuk driver and then finds the way. It's very nice with all the lights, the rubbish not so visible and a lovely warm breeze.

Another couple from our group is sitting next to the pool and we join them for a beer. A little froggy also joins us. Cute!

After two morning wake-up calls at 5:30 sleeping in will be nice.

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These pictures are already in blog Day 22 when we landed in Siem Reap. Only now do I realize this is exactly where we were today. I had no idea what cool pictures I had taken!

1 comment:

  1. What a lovely little jewel the Banteay Srei Hindu temple is! The carvings are fantastic – in all meanings of the word.

    I've never traveled anywhere truly 'foreign', but I wonder if you don't get to the point that you are longing for a simple roast chicken, mashed potato and salad dinner? Of course having lived in different places may make that not an issue for you, but I was curious.