Siem Reap - Day 4

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October 26th 2022
Published: October 28th 2022
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When we ventured down to breakfast this morning it was feeling rather oppressive and the waiter told us ‘it’s going to rain today … in about half an hour’. Oh well, whatever will be, will be. We have been doing so well with the weather on this holiday we really can’t complain if we have a wet day.

This morning we arranged for Cholna to collect us at 8.30am for an excursion to the Roluos temple group located about 13 kilometres east of Siem Reap. These temples are some of the earliest in the Siem Reap area dating to late in the 9th-century.

First on this morning’s list was Bakong and, despite the dire prediction of our breakfast waiter, it was still fine as we pulled up at the east gate. Bakong was the first state temple built during the Khmer Empire in the style of a sandstone temple mountain. Constructed by Indravarman I, it was situated right in the heart of the Angkorian capital, Hariharalaya. The temple has four levels, arranged in a stepped pyramid, symbolizing creatures from both Hindu and Buddhist mythology. At the top, the central sanctuary features a lotus-shaped tower.

After accessing the temple via the east entrance we drove around to the western side of the temple where Cholna pulled up on the other side of the moat for us to take more photos. He offered to take photos of the four of us in the tuk tuk in front of the western aspect of Bakong. It turns out he’s well-practiced at these shots lining us up so that he could take photos of us with the temple appearing to sit atop the tuk tuk’s canopy and then with the lotus tower framed inside the tuk tuk with us! Very arty.

Next on this morning’s list was Preah Ko which literally means ‘Sacred Bull’ referring to Shiva’s mount, Nandi. The temple is arranged as six towers in two rows facing east. Unfortunately the pair of towers on the right are currently shrouded in scaffolding and shade cloth undergoing or awaiting restoration work. Preah Ko shows dedications to three generations of Indravarman’s ancestors. With some creative photography angles we managed to take some good shots of four sixths of Preah Ko i.e. the four towers not currently obscured!

The third and final temple for this outing was Lolei located at the northernmost point of the Roluos temples group. Built by Yasovarman I, it is comprised of four towers dedicated to the king’s parents and grandparents. The brick towers feature numerous decorations, many of which are representations of Indra, the sky god and Airavata, his elephant.

Despite our breakfast waiter’s unfavorable weather prediction, the weather remained fine for us again all morning while we explored the Roluos temples group. With another three temples viewed we had Cholna return us to the hotel for some R&R. As we chug back into Siem Reap there is always some debate about the relative merits of taking a dip first or eating lunch. This afternoon the pool won out for the Gaffneys and the Gatts decided to dine before getting wet! You can eat beside the pool in wet togs, but everyone knows that you can’t swim until an hour after you eat, ha, ha, ha. Luckily there are no Mums here to tell us we’ll get cramp if we go into the pool straight after eating.

As we relaxed by the pool the weather started to look more and more threatening. The sky blackened and there was some thunder in the distance. We managed to stay in the pool until the rain actually started falling on us. Very quickly it turned from a shower into a deluge and we had to gather everything up and retreat to shelter. The thunderstorm made very little difference to the temperature though, it was still hot … and even more humid, making it feel hotter still.

Before heading out to dinner tonight we received a message with a photo to say that the Gatts were enjoying Siem Reap Slingers in the bar. Pretty red drinks. We headed down t join them, but they had finished their drinks and returned to their room to avoid the mozzies. Bernie ordered a beer anyway and I decided to try a Galaxy Fizz mocktail, a purple concoction consisting of sparkling butterfly pea tea, rose infusion, sparkling water and lime juice with a mint garnish. Very refreshing and preferable to the Kulen Rainforest ‘Mimosa’ that I sampled last night. THAT should have come with a spoon rather than a straw, it had so much fruit (dragonfruit and lychee) in it!!

We had Cholna booked for 6.00pm to take us to Pub Street again for dinner. Tonight we tried one of the oldest restaurants on Pub Street, the Paper Tiger, themed on Tin Tin’s Adventures in Cambodge. It seems that most restaurants do a wide range of foods in order to cater to as many tastes as possible. We could have eaten western food at the Paper Tiger, but we all opted for more locally inspired offerings. I ordered my second mocktail for the evening The Tiger, a pretty red drink, but I can’t recall the ingredients list. Probably waaaaay too much sugar though in two mocktails!!

After dinner we found Cholna so that he could take us to the circus. Tonight we went to a performance by Phare the Cambodian Circus. Phare performances incorporate theatre, music, dance and modern circus arts to tell uniquely Cambodian stories. The artists are students and graduates from Phare Ponleu Selpak’s vocational training centre in Battambang. Tonight’s story was about rice and the performers were literally swimming in rice as actual (uncooked!) rice was incorporated in the act.

A pile of rice was on the stage to start the show. This was used to draw symbols on the stage before the performers started gathering the rice and redistributing it as part of the show. Later there were more traditional balancing and gymnastic performances before more rice rained down onto the stage. I’m sure the performers must go home with rice stuck EVERYWHERE!

Masks were compulsory in the big top and I think that was a very good thing! I know I’ve had a slight cold (and Bernie came down with it too), but at least I didn’t cough my way through the entire performance like a lot of audience members did. At least some of those coughs might have been due to more than slight colds??

After the show, Cholna ran us back ‘home’. The circus is on the same side of town as the Baby Elephant Hotel so it was a very quick trip! Cholna will have to find some other tourists to run around tomorrow as we have booked a day trip in a minivan to go a bit further afield.

Steps for the day: 6,196 (3.94km)

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