Cambodia: Number 20!

We stayed at a hotel called the Golden Banana.  It was run by a group of young men(how old do I sound?) around the age of 20-25.  I didn’t expect very good service, but was actually amazed by their attention they paid to us.  As a result, we booked the same tuk tuk driver for the entire stay, and a guide for our first day of exploration.

Angkor Thom from the back of a wobbly elephant.

Upon arrival in Siem Reap, since we already had most of the day gone by our getting there, we decided to go find the pool and sit by it.  Jane left first, and I told her I would meet her by the pool.  10 minutes later, I headed to the pool, I asked the front desk where it was and they showed me how to get there.  It was a bit odd, as it was down an alley out the front of the hotel.  When I arrived at the pool, Jane was no where to be found.  I asked the bartender if he had seen my wife, and he asked me if she was pregnant, and if so that he had.  I told him that I didn’t think so, and that I would just wait there for her.  An hour or so passed, and still no Jane, I took a swim and continued relaxing by the pool.  Jane finally showed up, and informed me that she had been waiting at another pool.  A pool that belonged to the hotel across the street that shared the same name, except it was the Boutique version of it.  They use Boutique here alot, using it as a way to say something is more upscale than normal.  Kind of like how the base room is called a superior room, but there is nothing it is superior to, there is no standard room.

Jane kisses the Buddha.

Senior Picture pose.

Our first day in the temple area, we saw Angkor Thom, Angkor Wat, and Ta Prohm temple.  These three ruins were quite different from one another.  We rode an elephant around Angkor Thom while neat it made me feel bad for the elephant, I wondered how many trips she had to make like this a day with visitors accidentally kicking her in the head.  Angkor Thom is a large area with its temples all having Buddha faces on them, it was really quite enjoyable to explore, as there was a ton of unique structures here. A person could climb around on the structure and really explore it.  While it was hot, it wasn’t the scorching 100 degree plus that it gets to in May-April.  As with most of the temples here, there are lions and Naga all over the place.

A large buddha face on one of the towers.


More faces.

Angkor Thom

Outside of Angkor Wat, the approach has a series of 50 some gods on one side, and 50 some demons on the other all holding a large Naga.  The story goes that the gods and demons worked together to hold the Naga in place to churn the Sea of Milk for 1000 years to create the elixir of immortality.  Various other entities and objects were created in this process, but I cannot remember the details.  The faces of these statues were all unique at one time, but they have decayed enough that now cloned faces from existing ones have been applied to some missing heads and other ornamentation.  The story of “Churning the Sea of Milk” was also carved into a large mural on the backside of Angkor Wat, but it is currently off site being restored since 2007.

Gods churning the sea of milk with a Naga.

HDR Angkor Wat Spire.

Angkor Wat was never overgrown by the forest like Angkor Thom had been.  After it was abandoned, Buddhist monks moved into it and used it as a place of Buddhist worship.  When it was ‘rediscovered'(it was never really lost) it was thought to be a Buddhist temple instead of the Hindu temple that it was, because the monks had set up 1000 Buddhas in one of the main areas.  Upon closer inspection, it was evident that it was actually a hindu temple, as it had both the Churning of the Sea of Milk, and the story of Ramayana carved into its sides.

Angkor Wat

The spires of Angkor Wat were beautiful, but unfortunately(for us) there was some rennovation going on, so there were some ugly green netting over some scaffolding in a couple places.  I guess I will have to come back at some later time to try to get ‘clean’ pictures.  Either that or just do some photoshop magic!  This entire trip I have tried my best to take pictures with as few tourists as possible.  It was impossible in China, but I think I had done pretty good here.  I have actually asked a few people to move so I could get a clean picture a couple times, as for some reason it seems that someone always moves into the location you want to shoot and then just stands there.  Even if you were obviously trying to get a picture.

Black and White HDR Angkor Wat

Ta Prohm was a temple that was taken back by the forest.  While much of it was cleared, they were unable to remove many of the trees as they had grown through the temple.  Their long octopus like tentacles creeped around and through both the standing and fallen stone.  It really was a beautiful site to see. 

A tree growing over the Ta Prohm temple.

Odd dinosaur carving on the wall.

The next day we went to one of the further ones, Banteay Srei Temple.  It was about an hour Tuk Tuk drive, so we enjoyed that while observing the rural life in Cambodia’s countryside.  The temple was small in size, but a different color than the other ones we had seen and still fairly intact.  It was a different color than the others, more like the color of the carvings in Petra, Jordan.

Bye Until Thailand!