April 09, 2012

Walking Where Many Have Walked: Angkor Wat and Ta Prohm, Cambodia Part 2

We were all up early getting ready for another day of touring around Siem Reap. It was REALLY hot so we scheduled it so we visited the temples in the morning then came back for time at the pool! WOOHOO! (Lady Hiva and I managed to swim at least once every day)

The first temple on the list was Angkor Wat, one of the largest temples in the world. It was massive! The structure itself is huge and well preserved, but adding the man-made moat/lake around it, it is even bigger. The temple is believed to be the center of the universe. The moat symbolizes the world's oceans and the bridge to the temple is representative of our journey back to Earth from another life. (Or at least that is how I remember it, like I said I get kind of distracted and either my mind wanders off or I literally wander off. Now you know why Lady Hiva tells me I have ADD).  This is Hiva speaking.  I was actually listening and this is what the tour guide said.  The center of the temple is the center of the universe.  The wall surrounding the temple represents the mountains of the world.  The surrounding moat represents the oceans of the world and the bridge from "earth" to the temple represents the rainbow that connects heaven to earth and as we cross the bridge, we are making our "journey" from earth to heaven.

As we walked the halls it was amazing to behold the ingenuity of the Khmer people so many years ago. It was stifling hot, but in the tall breezy corridors you could feel cool. The walls of Angkor Wat have miles and miles of detailed story telling. It seems that every inch of the place was covered with decorative murals or some kind of historical story. In some places you can still see the rich colors that used to once cover the walls. Again I wondered how it must have looked it the pinnacle of its time. Sadly, many of the statues of the early gods and later of Buddha were desecrated or looted during the tumultuous history of Cambodia, so there are only a few that remain.
This was one of those times I was wandering...but look at the great photo I got because of it

Us making the "journey" to the center of the universe.

When it rains, the drain is plugged and this becomes an indoor pool.

Standing within a hall of Angkor Wat.

Those stairs are SO steep

Women are forbidden from touching the monks. 

Our tour guide filled us in on parts of Cambodian history (some of it in a bit too much detail for my ADD-ness. “Back in the 800th year of the 7th reign of our good king so and so…” It was interesting, that is for sure and I like history, but I got lost in the translation of the really long names and the many dates). As the history lesson neared modern day, it was heartbreaking to hear the stories of how the Khmer Rouge wreaked havoc on their own people and committed  mass murders during the civil war. For years since, Cambodia has rebuilt with partnering governments to become what it is today.

After our mid-day swim we went back out to ride elephants! We were going to ride the elephant to the top of a mountain to see another temple ruin, but they were sold out! YIKES! So we walked up the mountain and rode the elephant down…not as fun, but we still did it! Instead of bareback like we rode in Thailand, we used the saddles. It was fun to watch all of our party’s faces as they climbed on and the saddle started to lean to one side (it is a LONG way up) and they panic until someone else gets on and balances the saddle. It was a nice slow ride on a beautiful evening.

These feet have done some serious walking

We watched a cultural dancing show—well we went to one, but it was hard to see it all because people were constantly coming and going. All I could think was those head dresses look like a complete golden temple on their heads. They must have really strong necks. After we went to eat on Pub Street again, we really liked that place. The cafés were all unique and fun. We chose one that gives their proceeds to an NGO supporting children’s education. I don’t think they are used to having 13 people show up all at once because the food came out for some of them and by the time they were done, we did not have our food yet. One of the guys in the group decided he needed to help and he went back into the kitchen and started to bring out our food for them! HAHAHA…we all thought it was great, but his teenage daughter was SO EMBARASSED!
Amok - So So yummy!

One of the two plates we bought
Here is the other

This is the Clay pottery place we bought our Cambodia plates from

Pub Street Cafe
All of us going to eat, riding the tuktuk together

Waiting for our food...

Going back into the kitchen to get our food

The last temple we visited was Ta Prohm—the temple from Tomb Raider. Or so they say, I have not seen the movie. Lady Hiva said that we will to watch it when we get home. She could not believe I had been deprived of the movie. Ta Prohm was by far my favorite temple. The trees growing the area are majestic and make for great photos. Yes, they are also part of the reason that the temple is crumbling, but it is still fun to see what is there. Extensive renovation and strengthening is going on all over the temple to make sure it does not deteriorate any more. There were so many places to wander off and explore. It would be a really great place to play laser tag or hide and seek; although may be kind of spooky at night!
Ta Prohm where Tomb Raider was filmed.

We have really enjoyed Cambodia…let’s see what Vietnam has to offer!

1 comment:

  1. Such a pretty place! Glad you had fun. Love you guys.