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Published: March 3rd 2015
A somewhat sensitive topic of conversation no matter who you are or where you are from.
If I were to define religion in as few words as possible, in my very inarticulate, very basic way, I’d say, it is a set of moral guidelines and beliefs.
I’m an atheist.
Although I don't believe in a god or gods I'm intrigued by all religions. It blows my mind that thousands of years ago the people mentioned in various religious texts actually existed and we still talk about them today.
If I were to liken my own beliefs to any religion or belief system it would be Buddhism.
I respect people’s beliefs much like how I expect them to respect mine.
However, despite the fact I am not a religious person, it still infuriates me when I hear people’s ignorance towards religion.
Whilst at Angkor Wat, a temple built originally for Hindus but later used by Buddhists too, I heard a tourist say “This place is so amazing. I can’t
believe it’s JUST a temple. I want to live here!”
JUST a temple?
Am I the only one that is infuriated by people’s ignorance, especially when coupled with self-importance?
Did she honestly believe that she should have more right to live in a temple than people whose faith currently amounts to one billion people worldwide?
It’s sad that people would even say something like that, even if it is in jest, whilst inside a temple but I suspect these are the same people who confuse extremism with people of a certain religious belief.
Despite hearing that it did not spoil my experience of Angkor Wat, it just reaffirmed my lack of faith with the future of humanity.
Siem Reap literally has hundreds of temples. Angkor Wat is probably the most well-known temple, I’d assume because of its size, but size isn’t everything, or so I’m told. Angkor Wat was amazing but my favourite temple was Beng Mealea. It was built in the same period as Angkor Wat, the 12th
century, all of the temples were left for between 300-400 years and nature
began to take back the land but Beng Mealea was left for nearly 500 years and was only rediscovered in the 20th
century. Angkor Wat has been restored years ago but Beng Mealea looks pretty much how you’d expect to find it if YOU were discovering it!
I’m sure I’m not the only one that, when exploring a site thousands of years old, likes to imagine how it felt to be the one discovering it after it had long been forgotten, or maybe being born in the 80’s and being brought up watching Indiana Jones has given me a vivid imagination, either way, Beng Mealea gives you that feeling.
Each different temple we visited had its own unique “best feature”.
The detail in Banteay Srei, that has stood the test of time, is unmatched by any other temple and it is all carved in red sandstone.
Bayon temple has fifty four towers and has over two hundred faces carved onto the towers. Elephant rides are offered around this temple which I’d highly recommend as the views you get are phenomenal.
Ta Phrom is similar to
Beng Mealea in that it looks like you have just discovered it yourself however there were a lot of people there so it felt like you were sharing that discovery with several coach loads of Chinese tourists. When we arrived our guide took us around the south edge of the temple, going this route, instead of west to east like everyone else, means you get to explore some of the temple by yourself.
Kbal Spean, although not a temple, was unique as you have to walk for 45 minutes through the jungle to arrive at what is known as “the thousand lingas river” there are Hindu carvings literally chiselled into the riverbed, some are easily seen, some a little deeper and some are raised out of the river. This was done as it is believed that after the water had flown over the carvings it was turned into holy water.
Tonle Sap is the largest fresh water river in Asia, however in dry season it is a quarter of its size compared to rainy season. We went for a boat ride along the river and at times the boat was literally scraping on the
bottom of the river, we actually drove for 20 minutes from where the lake starts in rainy season before we found enough water to get on the boat. Towards the end of the boat ride our boat and another boat crashed into each other, our boat was a smaller boat compared to the other so we came off worse in the collision. The roof was damaged so we had to get off early and walk through the village until we got to the car that was picking us up.
Walking through the village was a unique experience as the walkways would be submerged during the rainy season but the houses are on stilts ten metres high so people can live in them all year round. I don’t think many tourists come this way usually, especially ones as red as me from too much sun. That feeling of being the person from “out of town” who walks into the saloon in the Wild West and the music screeches to a halt whilst everyone gazes at you springs to mind
I have decided that starting with this trip each of my blogs is going to have
a “mosquito rating” to warn fellow sufferers like myself about the number of bites you can expect. My mosquito rating for Siem Reap is 10/10 I have been eaten alive here. The bite on my right cheek is currently the most irritating at the moment followed very closely by the one on my bum.
We spent four days in Siem Reap. There are over 200 temples in the temple complex which covers an area of hundreds of miles. Although we didn’t see them all I don’t think it is necessary to, we saw a lot of temples, ate some amazing food, got some very good massages and Nikki & I both felt like we had the perfect amount of time in Siem Reap before we departed for Sihanoukville. Now we plan on chilling at the beach for a few days.
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