It is my last night in Cambodia and we are all destroyed from our long day of touring temples. The oppressive heat really took it out of us… That said it was truly breathtaking. We have broken up the temple complex into 2 days, and have started with the “large circuit” of second string temples. I suggested doing it that way rather than heading straight for the famous ones because I didn’t want the smaller temples to be overshadowed by the larger ones. In all fairness if they were not so near to Angkor Wat they would be destinations in their own right. Tomorrow morning we will wake up before dawn and see the sun rise behind Angkor Wat…
The four or five temples we saw today had a majesty that I have not felt since the hike to Machu Picchu that Gramma and I undertook. One of my favorite moments was when Stephanie and I were invited inside a shrine by an old toothless monk. He asked us to sit down, handed us some incense and chanted a prayer with us. After we deposited the incense in front of the shrine, he tied a red knotted string to each of our wrists and said a prayer for us for good luck. He took quite a liking to Stephanie’s bright smile and tied a flower to her wrist as well… And after our ceremony was over he tried to convince her to stay sitting next to him – I think he would have been thrilled for her to stay the rest of the day, but she kindly insisted that there was much to see and we both sauntered out. Our friend Andrew snapped a few good shots of this episode.
My descriptions can in no way do the temples justice so here are some photos.
Also worth noting is the fact that Siem Reap means “defeat of the Siamese” i.e. the Thai – a bit of a provocative name for a town so close to the border with Thailand. The Cambodians defiantly gave the city this name after losing vast territories to the Thai, but retaining the most valuable piece with the temples (and of course Angkor Wat), built by the wealthy dynasties of the Khmer civilization at its apex.