Sunday, May 1, 2016

Siem Reap, Lady Temple and Ta Keo

From the time we moved to Japan Dan and I have had daydreams about visiting the temples of Siem Reap, particularly Angkor Wat. We've watched many documentaries on the ancient ruins and when we realized it could happen it shot to the top of our travel list. The problem was there were also many other places on that travel list so when I began planing this last trip I realized we weren't going to be able to spend a week at each place we'd planned to visit. Three days is what we had in Cambodia, three days. Hey, I'm not complaining, three days wasn't nearly enough for Dan and I but for our kids I think three days felt like an endless 105 degree hell.

We left Hong Kong at about 7:30 in the morning and arrived in Cambodia around 9 in the morning. After arriving at our boutique style hotel and checking in we were informed that we had arrived smack dab in the middle of the Khmer New Year! What?! Usually when you plan trips you can foresee something as big as a national holiday, mind you, a three day national holiday! So was this going to affect trying to see the temples? Well, they said, we might run into a bit of trouble finding a driver...small detail. Oh boy, I had planned the rest of our trip with exacting detail, it didn't occur to me at all that finding a driver would be the least bit difficult to do after we had arrived in Cambodia. Sooo, I put our hotel staff to work trying to find us someone to take us around to the different sites we wanted to visit and they came through amazingly. Our first stop that afternoon after everything was squared away was called Banteay Srei or the Lady Temple and it's a good drive out of the city. But at that time the city was so crowded, not from tourists, but from the many Cambodians that had come from smaller cities into bigger cities like Siem Reap to visit family, to go to concerts, to just enjoy their holiday.
I was worried on the drive that my seemingly small oversight and lack of planning might cost us and with only three days there we couldn't afford to waste any time, but I was wrong as usual and as soon as we pulled up to that first temple my heart felt at ease...for a split second until the kids whining started! Okay it was really hot!
Look at these carvings!
Poor kids, we went at the hottest time of the day! Still, we kept coaxing them with cold drinks, popsicles, anything to keep spirits up.
We quickly learned that dumping water on Avie usually helped for her.
It is speculated that the modern name of the temple Banteay Srei is because of all the devatas carved into the sandstone. This temple is known for it's intricate carvings.
I just really, really liked this place.
Rayce trying to play with some local musicians.
Lovely field on our way out.

Could we convince our children that one more temple wouldn't kill them?! I think it was the promise that we wouldn't stay long and that the pool would still be open by the time we got back that made them grumpily agree, but by this time the sun was setting and wasn't blaring on our faces. The final stop of the day was Ta Keo, a lovely temple with dizzying tall stairs.
Showing our passes; what a very friendly people the Khmer are. It's crazy when you read about such a violent and recent past, we often wondered aloud how fresh the wounds still are. This was the place I was the most uncertain about visiting but the friendliest of people that we came across were in Cambodia.
Still sorta smiling, but mostly sweating.
It's hard to appreciate from the picture the steepness of these stairs, and also how tall they were! Poor Avie trying to step up those stairs, it just zapped whatever strength she had left.
Here goes Rayce.
It looks green enough but it was so dry while we were there. I guess the previous rain season had not been that great so Cambodia is really hurting for a good upcoming rain season that usually starts in May and goes for six months!
If someone asked me of the places we'd been where would be somewhere I'd want to go back I'd say without a doubt, Siem Reap, Cambodia. I would love to return there even with all the new places we've yet to travel there's something about this place that would entice anyone back. More to come.

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