Our only place of call in Cambodia was Siem Reap. Probably if you have ever heard of Siem Reap it would be because it is the city closest to the famous temple complex of Angkor Wat (Wat simply means temple).
Where we stayed in Siem Reap
Oh, and the rooms have colour TV too; but Denece and I hardly watched TV while we were in SE Asia, there seemed plenty of other things to do.
A curious thing about both Cambodia and Laos is that streets do not necessarily have names. This is apparently the case with the street on which the Golden Temple Villa is on; so I can't give an address, but it is in the guide books and on Trip Advisor.
Mey Mey RestaurantOn the same (unnamed) street Golden Temple Villa, even cheaper, and good food. Their coffee, in particular, was good and was served in the genuine traditional style. Out of curiosity I ordered a Greek Salad at Mey Mey. (Denece and I mostly made a point of eating local styles of foods rather than those that we could eat at home.) The Greek Salad had no lettuce nor any fetta cheese; the restaurant owner apologised for not having olives, she had run out.
For the wider area of the temple complexes, some people travel by car (comfortable, fast, relatively expensive), bicycle (for the fitter people, who don't mind working up a sweet), and tuk-tuk. We used the latter. (Compare with Luang Prabang tuk-tuk.)
The weather at Siem Reap is usually hot.
My wife and I found travelling by tuk-tuk comfortably cool because we were
completely open to the breeze created by the movement, which was typically
around 50 km/h, at a guess.
Mr Kim Seng's services were good, and his charges reasonable; his English,
though, was very limited.
He could talk about places to go, but his very limited vocabulary made
anything beyond this difficult or impossible.
On the end of the tank is written "No pirahna".
It is interesting to note that the thin nobby columns in two of the visible
windows are very similar to those on some of the ancient temples.
These were in Cambodia. Bricks in northern Vietnam seamed typically to be thiner and have only two holes, those in southern Vietnam were of a similar size to these and had six holes.
This is part of a temple, but similar brickwork was used on many other types of buildings.
I don't remember seeing solid clay bricks anywhere.
Helmets and lights on bikesTuk-tuk drivers seemed always to wear helmets, while perhaps only about half of other motor bike riders did. If I remember rightly, few if any bicycle riders wore helmets. At night motor bikes had lights, but less than half of bicycles had head lights; almost no bicycles had tail lights or even reflectors on the back.
Denece and I felt that Jimmy's Village School was a valuable initiative and that Jimmy was doing great work with the kids.
Email Jimmy at firstname.lastname@example.org or look up the Facebook group "Jimmys Village School".
|Angkor Wat not long after sunrise|
On our first day we stayed with the crowd and waited near the main entrance on the western side for the sunrise (see top). On our second day we walked straight around to the eastern side, the side that would be illuminated by the newly risen sun. The photo above was taken from the northeast.
This gallery runs around the outside of Angkor Wat and is lined with bass-relief carvings all the way. A photo of a few of the carvings is below.
Modern stone carvings in the same style can be bought at Artisans Angkor.
|Stone carvings on Angkor Wat|
The Angkor Wat compound enclosed a number of buildings other than the central temple; this is some of the outlying buildings, looking toward the west.
Angkor Wat and its outlying buildings was surrounded by a wide, tree lined, moat; which was itself quite beautiful in the early morning light.
The northern side of Angkor Wat
Inside the Angkor Wat moat and wall, in an part away from the temple and subsidiary buildings, is a refreshment area (on the left in this photo).
There is a line of large tables, each with a name and number and each served by a separate group of people in a family business.
The table we sat at was number 6, "Spider Girl". In Southeast Asia one doesn't have to go to the shops, the shops come to one. Here Denece is looking at clothes to take home as gifts.
The coffee and food on offer was very good; although, for some reason most of the multitude of people who were wandering around Angkor Wat did not seem to avail themselves of it.
An interesting point in the Angkor area relates to the toilets.
Very near this refreshment area was a line of not particularly good toilets.
One had to pay to use these, while near several of the other temples (Angkor
Tom and, I think, Pre Rup) there were better toilets that were free.
This may well have been a work in progress.
Going from Angkor Wat to Angkor Thom one pases over a causeway before going through the gate in the great wall surrounding Angkor Thom. The walls on the sides of the causeway are decorated with these fellows who are busy 'churning the ocean of milk'. (See also the image below.)
The churning of the ocean of milk is a common theme in Cambodia; it must be an important part of the Kmer creation mythology.
What foolish things we find in religions!
I hasten to say that Western religions are just as foolish, consider the
creation myth of Scientology and the golden tablet myth of Mormonism; for
that matter the way that women were created in the Bible.
This is a modern statue of a single figure (god, demigod?) working at the churn; this one is at the front of a building in Siem Reap. Imagine a continuous line of such fellows. That is roughly what is on the causeway near the Angkor Thom gate (above).
To the north of Angkor Wat is Angkor Thom, which includes a temple called Bayan. Angkor Wat does not have giant faces on it; Bayan has them in enormous abundance.
It seems that the Kmers, like the ancient Egyptians, didn't use arches in their construction.
The opening shown in this photo would have worked better had an arch been used.
It seems surprising that people who were obviously so skilled in working with
stone did not happen to discover the arch with its valuable structural
Pre Rup is a temple that is passed on the way from Siem Reap to Angkor Wat.
The main courtyard of Pre Rup. The steps were steap, the weather hot.
Work was under-way removing the vegetation on the temple. Note the very long ladder.
It is posible to get within a couple of kilometres by road; the last part must be walked. It's a rocky and steep scramble in places, and the weather is usually hot and humid.
This temple was close to the River of a Thousand Lingas. Wikipedia gives the name as "Banteay Srei or Banteay Srey".
The carvings on this temple were sharper than those on most of the other ancient temples; probably due to a different rock type being used in construction.
Neither my photography nor the space available on this page can do justice to the Angkor complex of temples.
Also see..SE Asia 2011