We left Bangkok early in the morning and caught our flight on Thai Smile Airways to Siem Reap. Isn’t that a cute name for an airline? They were amazing… For only a one hour flight we got a box lunch/breakfast with drinks and fruit. I now believe Thai Smile is an appropriate name.
We were met at the airport by our Regent Cruise Line representatives and were quickly whisked off to our hotel in Siem Reap. Here’s our welcome…
After our lunch at the hotel, we visited two temples – Ta Prohm and Angkor Thom.
As we entered Ta Prohm, we encountered a group of performers who were seeking donations. They were victims of land mine explosions and we subsequently witnessed more victims over our 2 days here.
Here are some of the photos I took at Ta Prohm. You’ll see that much of the temple is in ruins but also entwined with roots of these incredibly old trees. The roots were amazing to see.
The three children at the end were so cute I couldn’t resist taking their photo. And of course, they never looked at the camera.
Next we went to Angkor Thom whose grounds are immense. This temple is quite different in that it’s quite high and requires a lot of steep climbing. Mind you, this all took place in the afternoon at 95 degrees and with extreme humidity. It was a grueling series of steps up and steps down – no handrails either.
I asked Rich to take this picture of me without realizing how sweaty and clammy I might look.
As we left Angkor Thom, we had an opportunity to take photos of the South Gate in all of its splendor.
Today we visited Angkor Wat and realized how extraordinary a site it actually is. At the height of its dominance, the area and temple housed over a million people – larger in population at the time than any city in Europe. During its long existence, it was both a Hindu and Buddhist temple making many of the wall reliefs vivid representations of its long history. Additionally, Angkor Wat was victimized by thieves over the years and lost all of its gold adornments. It was truly spectacular.
I was also fortunate enough to have a photo taken with these temple dwellers – it only cost $1. They told me to place my hands a certain way but I don’t know what that meant.
I also then got blessed by this monk.
Although he allowed me to take his picture (also for $1 donation), it was a little embarrassing. He didn’t speak English very well, I was extremely nervous and forgot to take of my shoes as I stepped on his mat. That probably puts me in some bad karma but I couldn’t understand what he was telling me. At last I got it, took off my shoes and knelt in front of him. He placed a red yarn on my wrist and proceeded to bless me with not just one offering of water but 4 or 5. I kept my camera lens down for fear of getting it wet. Here’s part of the ceremony.
And then our final photo from Angkor Wat.
After returning to the hotel, we took a Tuk Tuk to Pub Street in Siem Reap. We had lunch and drank a few Angkor beers – they were $1 in most places. Here’s what it’s like to be in a Tuk Tuk.
I caught this woman on a bike as I was practicing some of my street photography…. I love her! She saw me with my camera and responded accordingly – she’s my chick on a bike!
As I close this post, I also want to share some of the extreme compassion and empathy that both Rich and I felt about the Cambodian people. We heard horrific stories of their recent past of civil war, body mutilation from land mines and other atrocities. The Cambodian people we met were gracious, kind, and beautiful individuals. Not knowing what to expect before we came to this country, we were so pleasantly surprised by the culture and history of this great country. I hope that their country thrives in the years ahead.
Next….we fly back to Bangkok tomorrow morning and board the SS Voyager in the afternoon to begin our long journey to Dubai. Please continue to follow and share some comments. Thank you.