The City of Temples
19.07.2019 33 °C
Hi all, I am finally back online so can now start letting everyone know what I am up to again. For some reason while I was in Kuala Lumpur, I could access the blog so again my apologies that you have not seen an update for quite a while.
Anyway, I have arrived in Siem Reap, Cambodia and it is stupidly hot and humid. It doesn`t matter if it is sunny or raining, you are constantly wet, the only difference is how quickly the water drips off you. I spent the first day here doing a trip around the city looking at a few of the many temples. Hired a Tuk Tuk to take me which was a hilarious experience in itself as the road rules here seem to exist but nobody seems to adhere to them, they just appear to drive on either side of the road but surprisingly I haven`t seen any accidents yet.
Hired a Tuk Tuk and driver for the whole day was $15 US and absolutely worth the money. He drove us around all day and waited while I was inside all the temples, which made for a stress free day.
First stop Angkor Wat. The size of this temple is absolutely immense and if I remember correctly sits on 2 square kilometres of land. Apparently it took 16000 people 37 years to complete and they used 4000 elephants to drag the stones 17 km to where the temple was built. There were 2 sized stones that they used the smallest weighing 500kg and the largest 2000kg. They also used no mortar as the stones are cut to lock together. The temple was built in the 12 century and you will see in the photos has lasted pretty well compared to the other temples I saw.
Next stop was a very small temple in comparison, built in the 10th century is Kravan temple. I am sure this is still a well respected temple, however it pales in comparison to Angkor Wat.
Third stop of the day was Banteay Kdei Temple, like Angkor Wat was from the 12 century. This was probably the temple that was in the worst state of repair. I am not sure if this was due to the many wars over the time or if it was just due to poor construction, either way this temple had a lot of character.
Temple number 4 of the day was Ta Prohm. This temple featured heavily in the tomb raider movie and was my favourite temple from all I saw today.
Temple number 5 Bayon Temple, getting almost templed out buy this stage but still interesting as each temple had something a little different. This
particular one stood out due to having many faces carved into the rock.
Random Elephant just walking past as I waited to go into the last temple.
The last temple of the day was Phnom Bakheng which dates back to the 9th century. Was supposed to be the best place in Siem Reap to watch the sunset due to the height but unfortunately it rained so could not get a sunset picture. I will go back again another day to see if I can snap a picture of the sunset. Had to walk about 2 km up a hill to get to this temple.
I will try and upload more frequently. Over and out.
Today was quite sobering after visiting this museum and seeing not only many photos of the devastation caused by Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge in the 1970`s but also actual weapons and remains of some of the 1000`s of landmines that have been cleared in Cambodia. It is believed that while in power the Khmer Rouge executed roughly 25% of the population. The effects of this are still evident today as many of the people executed were professionals, Eg teachers, accountants, etc, so this put the country backwards by years. The current government is also communist and been in power for the last 40 years and not for the people. This means there are many people struggling to survive and begging for food and money on the streets regularly.
This museum is run by a guy who actually fought not only in the Cambodian army but also defected to the Vietnamese are and fought against the Khmer Rouge. He now runs an organisation who`s mission is to clear all the landmines and weapons throughout Cambodia. The museum itself is quite small in comparison to what I have seen elsewhere but packs a lot in to the small space. As part of the $5 usd entry fee, you also receive a headset that has commentary in English and other languages if required, you just need to tell them what language upon entry. I highly recommend this as a half day activity.
The 3rd photo is a cage in the middle of a pond that is filled with landmines and ammunition that has been cleared from fields in Cambodia.
Stopped on the side of the road where they were making a sweet treat that I can only describe to be like fudge but more sugary. They use the nut from the sugar palm, empty the liquid from the nut into a huge pot then heat the liquid for many hours until it gets a fudge like consistency then let it set, put it into containers and sell it from these makeshift stalls on the side of the road. I think I paid $1 usd for this.
Went to Kulen Mountain today, it was 1 1/2 hours drive by private car. This is reasonably expensive as far as Cambodia goes but I really wanted to see the waterfall. Although $75 usd for entry fee and private car/driver seems a lot, remember that the car picks you up and remains with you until dropping you back. Pick up is 8.30am and drop off is around 3pm, so probably pretty good value compared to many other countries.
Essentially Phnom Kulen is a national park and a sacred site in Cambodia. There are 3 main attractions, the waterfall, the 1000 lingas that are carved into stone and sit at the bottom of the river and lastly the Buddhist Temple.
The waterfall is over 2 tiers and unfortunately when I visited there had not been a lot of rain so it was quite small considering what it usually looks like. I have put up some pictures but you may see better
Be careful at the temple as it is expected to place a donation, this in itself is not an issue however there are over 20 donation boxes and then many people lining the stairs with their handout. So even if you only put 50c in each box and then give another $5 to the people in the street added to the $75 for the car/driver and entry fee, you have smashed through $90 usd and you haven`t eaten yet. I am glad I made the trip to see this area as it was very beautiful.
Ok all, heading to Phnom Penh on the 24/7/19 so next post will be from there.