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Published: March 4th 2013
February 25th We were woken up at 4.20 by our alarm and then 4.30 by the hotels alarm and managed to get washed, larded up with suntan lotion, insect repellant, ice gel and ibuprofen gel and tiger balm for our injuries, then get dressed took tablets and met our guide at 5 so we could see the sunrise at Angkor Wat. We took tuktuks to the back entrance and by torchlight ( scary thing of the day as I am so scared of falling over again) we entered Angkor Wat. We stood with others by the lake waiting for the sun to rise and started taking lots of photos. Unlike sunrise at the Grand Canyon 30 years ago or even Matchu Pitchu there were so many tourists making a noise, one Chinese tour leader had a microphone which spoilt the atmosphere a little but not the views which were superb. We stopped for coffee then made our way around this amazing place, so much history being built in the 12th Century, surrounded by a moat and protected by the Naga, a mythical serpent, and dedicated to the goddess Shiva following the Hindu religion. Much of this attraction has survived several wars
and the ravages of time. When we did get away from the crowds it was a very peaceful place.
We then boarded our tuk- tuks again and made our way to Angkor Thom. We approached this via a bridge which had heads of either gods or demons either side and then through a small arch past walls that had carvings of elephants. We also saw real Cambodian elephants which are slightly smaller than Indian elephants and very dark skin. During the war most of these elephants disappeared into Thailand for safety but are now making their way back to Cambodia. We returned to the hotel for a swim and lunch before making our way out again to see Preah Khan temple and then on to Ta Prohm where some of Indiana Jones was filmed. The temple has been taken over by trees, their roots growing through and around walls and arches. These temples are fascinating and you can feel the history, it all seems so advanced for a country that now is still 3rd world in many respects! they had built such complicated and intricate temples including libraries and pools over 800 years ago where did all that ability go?
Never found his cabin
After an exhausting day and collecting laundry and shopping we crossed the road to the Indochine restaurant and had a lovely meal then took the tuk- tuk to the night market which was huge and very clean and inexpensive but I guess we had had enough and so made our way back to the hotel.Our hotel the Soma Devi is very well appointed, great swimming pool, lovely spacious rooms and a unique device for killing mosquito's which doesn't use electricity or gels or sprays and costs zilch, we have a gecko that shares the room with us.26th Steves birthday! and his back has got worse and giving him a lot of pain. We were collected at 8 and driven out to Banteay Srei Temple through the countryside. The people do live as if from an era long long ago with oxen to pull carts and straw houses and the red dust covers everything. We arrived after some off road experiences, mainly due to the road being unfinished, and stopped for very good coffee before exploring the temple which had amazing detailed designs. We were only just ahead of a coach load of Chinese tourists that seemed ignorant of social etiquette,
however Steve and our guide reminded them often! The intricately carved and well-preserved Banteay Srei Temple has a story crafted on sandstone structure and is regarded as the finest, most skilfully crafted in Cambodia. Banteay Srei has only been accessible since the late 1990s, when the Khmer Rouge left the area, and is regarded by many as the ‘jewel in the crown’ . We walked around the moat and again could appreciate the calm of this place. from here we went to King Suryavarman II’s eleventh century Boeng Mealea Temple – a prototype for the more famous Angkor Wat. Boeng Mealea stands almost forgotten in jungle and getting to the site is quite an adventure in itself. Isolated during Cambodia's civil war, Boeng Mealea was under the control of the Khmer Rouge for decades but has since been ‘de-mined’ so we can now safely visit this temple. It is the largest temple outside the main Angkor complex and in places it is remarkably intact, but in other places utterly destroyed; tree roots envelop many of the temple walls and doorways. The atmosphere here is eerie and is a bit like Angkor Wat, although on a smaller scale, it differs from
Angkor Wat in having only one central tower instead of the famous five towers of Angkor Wat.The older temples are mostly Hindu and dedicated to Shiva, the younger ones have Buddha or rather did have Buddha statues until the Shiva vandles removed them all. Reading about the stories that encompasses the Hindu religion and seeing the poverty that we have seen in Cambodia today leaves us bewildered; so much time and effort has been put in to the building of these temples and now they lay in ruins, the people still live in bamboo or corrugated iron shacks, if they are lucky. Perhaps tourism will help to lift the fortunes of these lovely people.King Suryavarman built over 100 temples but once you've seen one temple! Nah it wasn't that we were just tired and Steve's back was playing up, it must have been the free massage road, so we did not stop at the Cambodian Landmine Museum, or any more temples. Back at the hotel we went for a swim then spoke to Naomi which was lovely. Steve was then treated to a back massage and foot treatment and I joined him for a treat too. Fully rested we went
by tuk-tuk to Viroth's a fabulous restaurant that I would recommend to anyone one wanting authentic Cambodian cuisine that's amazing. Suggested to us by our guide we had a great evening in lovely surroundings, we are so going to miss Seam Reap.We had to leave next morning at 11 to get to the airport calling in to collect some birthday cards but unfortunately they didn't arrive before we left, I gave them a forwarding address but don't expect to see these cards, thank heaven for the Internet. Seam Reap is a lovely place to visit, probably the cleanest city in Cambodia that we have been to so far, also safe, lovely restaurants, and more history than we had time to investigate. We will say a fond farewell to Cambodia, a very poor but happy and layback people. We hope that their fortunes change and that in the elections in July the government has a shake up and starts to take care of the country and its people, they have been through so much turmoil and heartache in the last 40 years, some kindness would not go amiss.
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