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Published: June 13th 2017
A shot of our entire group, minus Larry our guide.
Geo: 13.2333, 104.767DAY SIXTEEN (1/18/13) — Angkor Thom
There are 300 temples near Siem Reap, Cambodia; only 90 are visible.
Today we visit Angkor Thom (guides sound like they are saying "Uncle Tom"😉. It is the last capital city of the Khmer Empire; it is twice the size of Angkor Wat in geography, with many important temples.
First on the agenda is our official Tauck Tour portrait. The photographer scatters us among the rocks at the entrance to Bayon and we get the job done. The photo is a fun remembrance of a fun time.
The three major sites of Angkor Thom are Bayon (named for the banyan tree), the Terrace of the Elephants (a public area where crowds gathered for events and elephants were paraded); and Ta Prohm Temple (now more commonly known as Jungle Temple).
Bayon is known for its huge stone faces, with one facing outward and keeping watch at each compass point. The curious smiling image, thought by many to be a portrait of Jayavarman himself, has been dubbed by some the "Mona Lisa of Southeast Asia." There are 51 smaller towers surrounding Bayon, each with four faces of its own. Bayon Temple boasts an extraordinary collection of bas-relief scenes.
four virtues (these vary by guide based on translation issues):
I figure I have been dealt double joy but Patrick got my share of patience. I share my joy with him. ;-)
We wander the temple and take many photos. Patrick and I actually find this to be the most intriguing temple we have been exposed to so far.
We walk a short way to the Terrace of the Elephants. The terrace was used by Angkor King Jayavarman VII as a platform from which to view his victorious returning army. The huge terrace was used as a reviewing stand for public ceremonies and served as a base for the king's grand audience hall.
We move on to what video gamers and movie goers find to be the crown jewel of the Angkor complex: Ta Prohm Temple, better known as "Jungle Temple" because huge trees took over the complex while it sat dormant for 300+ years. It's also known as Angelina Jolie's temple, because her 2001 movie “Lara Croft, Tomb Raider” was filmed here. The movie is based on a video game.
Unlike other temples at Angkor, Ta Prohm has been left much as it was found, surrounded by jungle with
silk-cotton trees growing out of the walls and covering them with roots; the temple's records indicate that over 12,000 people once lived at the site.
When we get our fill of temples bound by tree roots, we head to Viroth's for a lovely outdoor Khmer lunch. Those who wish then are dropped off at Artisans Angkor, an alliance of skilled craftsmen who sell their wares. First we tour the studios, where we see artists painting lacquer, carving wood and sandstone and working copper and other metals to turn all into high quality products. The shop, which has set prices, has a vast array of goods; many buy gifts for their families.
Back at the hotel, I have plans to visit the museum behind the hotel, which is new, high tech and includes a lot of information about Angkor Wat, including a model of what the site looked like in its heyday. Morleys go and report that is SO worth the trip. However, my blog calls me and the concept of having my feet up for several hours wins out. I bag the museum.
We meet Morleys, Adorjans, Jenifer Sank and Gloria Smith in the lobby for our evening outing. We take tuk-tuks
to Abacus, a French restaurant which features French and Khmer dishes. All enjoys their meals.
Our tuk-tuk drivers have hung around (an interesting thing that happens here … the taxi drivers glom on to you for the evening … waiting and dropping you off until your final destination) so they whisk us off to Siem Reap's night market where we make one last ditch effort to find our bargains. I am still in search of something charming for my Christmas tree; I have spotted cute marionette puppets but they are all too large for my tree. I am hoping to buy another pair of Khmer pants, but again no luck.
We tuk-tuk home and join our pals in the bar for a nightcap. Mine is a yummy cappuccino.
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