Wow! Waht an amazing day (Angkor Waht)! It has been a blur of activity since we arrived about 24 hours ago. Cambodia has been incredible! The people, the ruins, the culture, the food; our time here has truly been one of a kind.
We flew in from Hong Kong via Bangkok yesterday on a duel prop plane into a small airport at Siem Reap and arrived a beautiful jungle resort. We woke up this morning to a beautiful, bright day. Some work out and swam before breakfast in the picturesque pool at the resort. Breakfast was delicious as well. There were many choices of our typical fare, as well as a lot of fresh fruit, detox juice, pastries, and more.
We then quickly headed off for Angkor Waht. After stopping for pictures we needed for out passes, we drove a short distance in 2 small buses to the ancient ruins.
The Angkor Waht temple is the largest known temple in the world. It was built a thousand years ago by a million people living in the capital city spanning about 40 years of construction. London had about 50,000 people by comparison. This is a very large Hindu temple that is still in use. The moat surrounding temple has kept the jungle at bay. The ruins are made up of several towers and very detailed carvings of dancers and gods depicting the beliefs and way of life of this ancient people.
We had a guided tour by “Sitar” and we wandered around for few hours. It would be easy to spend a couple of days touring. There is such amazing detail!
Interspersed with seeing the ruins we also observed the induction of young men (12 to 14 yrs.) as new monks into the Buddhist religion. The people were very friendly and humored a bunch of noisy Americans some pictures of their special day.
We then went to a nice restaurant to have a nice lunch of traditional Cambodian food (spring rolls, soup, curry, and fruit.)
The day was hot, but clear until the afternoon when clouds came on as we proceeded to the temple of Angkor Thom. The temple of 53 towers and 204 faces. This temple was very unique from the other we saw and we enjoyed another hour climbing around these large and small (very detailed) faces of Buddha and exotic female dancers carved into the stone.
The next left for the last ruins we visited, but not before some time at the “Happy Room” as Sitar would call it (the restroom). The last temple complex is well known for the trees of the jungle growing in and around the structures. It can also be seen in the movie, “Tomb Raider”. We toured the amazing ruins for only a few minutes when it began to rain and it barely let up while we were there (thunder and lightning accompanied). We followed a path throughout the temple complex, weaving in and out of small stone buildings and tall trees with enormous root systems that grow right into the temple walls.
We then left the temple sites for the hotel to freshen up. After having a quick break we went to a nice restaurant that had a buffet of great Cambodian style food and then we watched a performance of traditional cultural dancing for the area.
The night just kept going though as several of us went downtown to Pub Street and the Night Markets to get foot massages and to barter with poor ladies that sell silk scarves, dresses, T-shirts, paintings and more.
It was a great day of sight-seeing, conversation, and unity as we observed a beautiful people who are still emerging from a devastating civil war that racked this country until the not too distant past. We barely survived all the children selling flutes, maps, and post cards as well as the always exciting Tuk Tuk rides though the wild streets of Siam Reap.