Siem Reap Angkor Temples, Day 10

Today was planned to be an exceptional day of sightseeing the temples in the Angkor area. With the weather getting warmer each day, we started out right after an early breakfast.

Our first stop was the temple of Banteay Srey, an amazing example of many religions. There is evidence of symbolism and architecture from the Brahmins, Vishnu and Shiva eras, starting from about 900 AD. The construction styles and details are documented in the entry hall before entering the temple itself.

Unfortunately, much of the decoration and statuary has been removed to a museum in France and elsewhere. What is left or wasn’t pillaged still provides a hint at what existed so long ago.

Our next stop was the south gate of Angkor Thom. It is a beautiful example of the temples of the time, over 1,000 years ago. There is so much to see, with many bas relief wall carvings, supposedly created by 70,000 artisans over 30 years or more. There is much symbolism in the carvings, which our guide pointed out. We found this temple to be especially interesting.

On to Bayon, which isn’t a temple at all, but an edifice that is notable because of the 115 faces as you approach. Each side of the bridge to the gate has rows of statues. Inside, much of the building has deteriorated. There is reconstruction going on, but the process is very slow. The huge stones are being catalogued fo reconstruction. There is much work to be done.

Our last stop of the day was Ta Brohm Kel another temple, also in the same area. There are over 4,200 temples in Cambodia, so you never run out of them! This temple is famous because of the ficus tree roots that have invaded and embedded themselves into the walls and the structure of the buildings and walls. It is a destination for many, especially the Chinese tourists, to have a photo taken. Angelina Jolie’s film of Tomb Raider was filmed here, making it quite famous.

Cambodia is 95% Buddhist. The other 5% is mainly Hindu or Christian. There is a smattering of Catholic churches and Hindu temples. We visited a Hindu temple and felt the Indian influences.

After this long day, we went to a lovely restaurant for a group dinner. So many of the restaurants cater to groups of various sizes with a set menu, giving us an opportunity to experience the varieties of cuisines available. The menu usually includes fried spring rolls, a soup of some kind, a curry, stir-fried vegetables, steamed rice and fruit for dessert, usually watermelon or papaya.

It was still relatively early after dinner, so we took a tuktuk into town, about 15 minutes away, to see the famous Night Market. It was absolutely amazing, with shops selling every imaginable souvenir, and restaurants and pubs open until midnight. The town comes alive at night. We knew that a return visit would be a must.

By now, we were exhausted and ready for bed.

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