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Siem Reap - Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Visit Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom and Ta Prohm and temples

sunny 38 °C

Busy temple day today and early start. Phil decided not to come because we have been here before, albeit 10 years ago, but I went on the morning tour which left at 7.40 am and took in Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom. Our first stop, along with thousands and thousands of tourists, was the administration centre, where we had our photos taken, which were then printed on a three day ticket, which we have to wear all the time when visiting the temples. And the authorities are very strict in checking that everyone has a pass.

It was very humid today and we all felt the heat very much. I drank two bottles of water and still that was not enough. We visited Angkor Wat first and spent a couple of hours there. There are tourists everywhere. It is a very popular temple. It is protected by a massive moat and outer walls and reached by a long causeway. The temple was built in the first half of the 12th century under King Suryavarman II and it was dedicated to the Hindu god Vishnu. We climbed up lots and lots of stairs and wandered all over the temple. There was also a higher level, but because the building is extremely old and needs protecting, only a certain number of people are allowed up there at a time. The queue, in the sun and humidity was a mile long and lasted about an hour. The steps were extremely steep and none of us wanted to tackle them, let alone stand in the sun for an hour. It is really, really hot.

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Back on the bus, Mao bought some sticky rice for us to taste. It had a black bean in the middle of the rice, then it is placed inside the bamboo and cooked in the fire. The heat burns the outside of the bamboo off and then what is left is peeled like a banana and pieces of sticky rice are broken off. We all had some and it was delicious.

Next stop - Angkor Thom - which is my favourite temple. Following the capture of Angkor in a surprise attack by the Chams in 1177, Jayavarman VII founded a new and final city not far from Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom. This is the temple of "faces" and everywhere you look, there are faces. Just gorgeous. We are all very hot. We scrambled over the ruins and one staircase was very steep. For both temple visits, we had to be sure our shoulders and knees were covered.

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Lunch was a very lovely event at the FCC - Foreign Correspondents Club - our first Western meal for a while and totally enjoyable. Good food in lovely surroundings - what more could you ask for?

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Back to the hotel, briefly, then back on the bus for our afternoon excursion to Ta Prohm Temple or as it is better known in the western world - Tomb Raiders - Lara Croft alias Angelina Jolie! This temple dates from 1186 and was built by Jayavarman VII as a commemoration to his mother. There is nothing unusual about this temple, but there are a lot of silk cotton trees in the area and their roots have invaded the temple and are stunning. There is a lot of restoration work going on in this temple because the roots are causing the rocks to become unstable and a lot of it is fenced off to tourists, which is a shame, but better than having it collapse on someone. There was a lot more open when we were here 10 years ago.

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We left the hotel at 5.45 pm for an early dinner and we had reserved seats in the VIP section of the Cambodian Circus. There were a couple of choices for dinner tonight - Cambodian cuisine or French fusion. We actually changed to the French Fusion and went to dinner at a lovely restaurant with Lam and three other couples. It was very nice food and our tummies must be wondering what is going on - two western meals in one day!

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A quick bus ride and we were at the Big Top. We had great seats in the VIP section and were all given a fan to keep ourselves cool, but once the performance started, huge air conditioners started blowing cool air from underneath our seats and we were very comfortable. Also, as a memento of the circus, we were given metal drink bottles. The circus was called Phare - The Cambodian Circus and they were very good. It was a circus without animals, a bit like CircusOz in Australia and there was lots of tumbling, juggling and acrobatics. They "performed" a story and it was about foreign tourists in Cambodia and we could all recognize parts of ourselves! It was very funny and very entertaining.

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Back to the hotel and straight into bed. Very, very early start tomorrow to see the sunrise at Angkor Wat.

Posted by gaddingabout 01:17 Archived in Cambodia

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