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Siem Reap/Angkor Wat, Cambodia

Written on: Monday November 19th, 2007

A journal entry from: South-East Asia, 2007

The majesty and glory of the 9th to 12 century Kings and their civilizations can be gleened by the dozens, if not hundreds, of ruins of temples and palaces of the Angkor Wat Archaeological Park and surrounding province.  The main park area is approximately 10 by 20 kilometers, with other major ruins in the outlying 50 km radius.  The centerpiece, Angkor Wat itself is architecturally & artistically breathtaking -truly worthy of a ranking in the Wonders of the World.  It alone is 1 km square and is in the form of a massive "temple-mountain", a massive three-tiered pyramid crowned by 5 lotus-like towers rising 65 meters high.

Nearby is the 3 sq.km. Angkor Thom complex -a walled & moated Royal city dominated by the Bayon's 37 standing towers bearing thousands of intricate  bas-relief carvings.  And on and on and on -temple after temple in varying states of decay or restoration; some with incredibly well-preserved carvings, some almost entirely overgrown by huge jungle trees, and one atop the only "mountain" in this flat landscape providing a wonderful 360 degree view over the whole ancient city.

We daresay that after three full days of Angkor touring we were "templed-out"!  But is was incredible!!!  By the way, we spent the 1st & 3rd days touring the area by tuk-tuk, but the 2nd day we bicycled approximately 35 km. touring various ruins on our own.  With sore butts we straggled back to our hotel for a much-deserved, cold Angkor Beer.  The wonderful thing about our tuk-tuk days was that we connected with the same driver who had befriended Marilyn & Greg Lawrence last year at this time (see their entire Blog at www.footstops.com/mlawrence ).  He is a soft and gentle man with a young family whom he took us to meet, and he greatly enriched our time here.

The town of Siem Reap itself is bustling with new tourist growth (over-growth?)  A culture inundated with the Western world, but providing much-needed tourist dollars for the economy.  There are grand old, colonial-style hotels, glistening new banks and hotels and National Museum, poor and dirty back streets and the Old Market area, and a "Bourbon Street"-style pedestrian area of bars and restaurants and clubs throbbing with music and energy late into the evening (I'm told).

And so our time here has been another wonderful, busy experience which will culminate in a visit to our Plan International sponsored daughter's village tomorrow.  We will update on this, along with some of our orphanage visits in a separate Blog-entry to follow.


From Donna on Nov 19th, 2007

I am sure your butt is still sore Deb! Wow, this place is facinating!