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Published: August 4th 2019
The largest religious building in the world.
The guide and driver who picked us up from the airport yesterday, picked us up again today for our tour of Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom.
First stop was Angkor Wat and that certainly didn’t disappoint. Mind you, we went in the ‘back’ (east) entrance and my wife was a lot more interested in all the monkeys than in what is the largest religious building in the world. One of the monkeys was carrying a little baby though.
Angkor Wat is about 800 years old and took 40 years to build from a mix of volcanic rock and sandstone. It was originally a Hindu temple, but later became Buddhist.
The size is impressive, but what is more impressive is the detail. There are carvings all the way around it with three layers, giving various depictions of heaven, life and hell. On one side was a huge ‘tug-of-war’ between good and evil. The sandstone has remained remarkably well.
We needed to climb up and down the 70 degree steps to reach the central area, after waiting in a queue as they (quite rightly) controlled the number of people going up there.
Next was a short drive to
A mother with her baby.
Angkor Thom, which was the last capital of the Khmer Empire and where 3,000 people lived, around the main temple in small wooden huts up until 1432. This is a Bayon temple that has even more ornate detail than Angkor Wat. A lot more of it seems to have been damaged, however, with piles of stones beside where some of the 54 towers once were (which, incidentally, represented the 54 provinces of the Khmer Empire). Many still had all their carvings along their sides.
Here the carvings are about life in the city and our guide pointed out what looked like a bar-b-q and what looked like cock-fighting.
Our tour also included a boat ‘cruise’ (in the loosest possible sense of the word) along the Sanker River to the huge Tonle Sap Lake. We had the little eight-seater boat to ourselves and we were wondering why we were going along this muddy river, but when we arrived at the lake, there was one of those floating villages.
There was a floating school. The crocodile farm was a bit worrying, given that we had seen children swimming in the lake and river very nearby. It was a bit
The old Khmer capital.
of a commercial stop as there was a restaurant, a load of floating gift shops and children with snakes (for photographs).
Apparently the whole village will move during the wet season, when the water rises six meters and the width of the lake goes from 30km to 45km.
When we were originally getting on the boat, someone was running beside us taking our photographs. When we got back, we each had the option to by a lovely dish with a picture of us which “why the hell are you taking a picture of me” looks on our faces. We refused to buy one, but it was a battle of wills as they refused to take “no” for an answer.
Also, when we came of the boat, there was a group of disabled people who were playing instruments and singing. Apparently, they had all been disabled by land-mines, which are still a serious issue here. Both guides had said that Princess Diana is held in really high regard here for the work that she did on the issue of land-mines.
We paid a donation to the group, but refused the plates.
There was another power cut
Angkor Thom Carvings
Anyone for a bar-b-q.,
back in Siem Reap.
After that momentary lapse with the burger yesterday, we went to a Cambodian restaurant for a really nice meal. Added bonus, it was quite near the hotel as we really couldn’t face ‘Pub Street’ again.
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