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Published: June 13th 2017
Geo: 13.4256, 103.86There are no foreign lands. It is the traveler only who is foreign. – Robert Louis Stevenson
After breakfast, Cheryl Morley, Patrick and I take a tuk-tuk taxi (four-person buggy carriage powered by a motor scooter) to the Phnom Penh Central Market. Vendors in hundreds of open air stalls sell a variety of trinkets and trash. This is where you should buy souvenirs … from tee shirts and Buddhas, to silver and pashminas. I bought a table cloth, cashmere pashminas, a silver elephant ornament for my Christmas tree and a pair of pants with elephants on them. Cheryl bought so much she also had to buy a piece of luggage! We then tuk-tuked home.
We grab a small snack on our own and board the Tauck bus to the airport for our transfer to Siem Reap, a city of just 180,000 people that welcomes 3,000,000 guests each year. It is the home of one of the Wonders of the World.
Angkor Wat, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is mighty and magnificent. It's right up there with the Pyramids and Taj Mahal … according to most travel lists.
Angkor Wat was built in 1113 and took approximately 37 years to build. At the
time, Angkor was the largest city in the world (1 million), outpacing Rome and Paris.
It is generally accepted that Angkor Wat was a Hindu funerary temple for King Suryavarman II and oriented to the west to conform to the symbolism between the setting sun and death. The bas-reliefs, designed for viewing from left to right in the order of Hindu funereal ritual, support this conclusion.
The entire complex is 1 square mile. The temple is made of sandstone and has three floors: Top: Royal family. Middle: Dignitaries. Bottom: Ordinary folk. It is 699 feet from the ground to the top of the central structure. It was built in just 30 years. Graduated tiers give the towers a conical shape, with rows of lotuses tapering to a point.
We climb to the tippy top of the temple. Two comments about the climb.
1. The walk up is strenuous. I am told it can be 110° in March. It was only 90 for us today. We were all overheated and winded when we reached to top. The stairs are a 70-degree angle … they are tall, narrow and seem to go on forever. Early on, the stairs are made of stone in irregular patterns. Later
the stone has been replaced by wooden planks and railings. I can't imagine folks having done the last 50 stairs without a handrail.
2. The walk up is also not a good thing for those with a fear of heights. Some in our crowd went up fine but then had a little panic attack coming back down. Walk down backwards if you think this might be an issue.
So think and rethink before you decide to go up to the third level.
Again with the weather: I had been advised to bring a fan and we all did. Some used theirs to cool off at the top (you can see how flushed I am in the photo); but we didn't really need them standing around listening to the guides. Today was NOT oppressive despite the warnings.
We really could have used Whisperers for this and other tours. People move at varying paces; I stop to take a lot of photos; some wander off and can't find the group. And I miss a lot of what the guide has to say because he is where the good shots are not.
Most of the crowd takes tuk-tuk taxis to the Raffles Grand Hotel d'Angkor. A welcome drink
and cold towels await us. Dinner is in the gourmet restaurant of the hotel. I had soft shell crab as an appetizer and whole lobster as an entrée. No room for dessert. But very yummy.
More temples tomorrow. I am guessing I am going to experience temple fatigue but I am told these are really worthwhile. We'll see.
Tot: 0.101s; Tpl: 0.017s; cc: 6; qc: 45; dbt: 0.0114s; 1; m:saturn w:www (184.108.40.206); sld: 1;
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