A Templing We Will Go . . . Day #2
Trip Start Feb 17, 2013
39Trip End Mar 21, 2013
Our first stop was a temple called Pre Rup. I forget who or what it commemorates but when I get to the Pearly Gates some day, I doubt it will be a test question. The rising sun was beautiful shining on the walls and we were about the only ones there to enjoy the effects. It was a nice stop. Most of these little temples take anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour to tour. Our driver dropped us off on one side and we met him on the other.
Today, because of the distances involved, about 75K round trip, we decided to rent a private car for the day
After Pre Rup we headed for our farthest temple, Banteay Srey. This is a small temple, as temples go. Maybe only a couple acres. But it is special because it honors the Hindu god Shiva, a hottie amongst the gods and goddesses. It had a LOT of decorative artwork and pink tinted stone. Popular with the girl gods, I guess. Anyway, it is considered one of the jewels of the temples here and not to be missed. After seeing it, I agree. It should be seen in the morning light (without the reflection of a hundred tour buses). We did hit it right. There weren't too many people there, yet. Somehow we were briefly sandwiched between two buses full of Japanese tourists. I had to restrain Dayna from hanging herself with the camera strap there for a minute but we pressed on, did some broken field running and broke free of the herd
The next stop was the Cambodian Land Mine Museum. I had read about this place but it turned out to be even better than what I had read. It is privately owned by an individual who had spent his childhood sewing the mines with the Khmer Rouge as a boy soldier. He then switched sides when he realized what was going on and the Vietnam army was liberating the country in 1979-1987. Since then, he has spent his life personally clearing the mines and training others how to do it. He also has founded a NGO (non-governmental organization) as they are called in a country that is over run with them and still doesn't have enough of them. His NGO helps land-mine victims, something the country is not short of and is producing more of every year. There are an estimated 3 to 6 MILLION undiscovered mines here! Just outside of the last temple, there are signs saying that the area is a mine area. So when they say, "Keep off the Grass" here they ain't shittin' ya, Bro! You could end up paging through the Sears catalog in the prosthetics section looking for missing parts.
Dayna's note: On the property of the Land Mine Museum is a school and living accommodations for children who have been victims of land mines -- to educate them and to help them lead more productive lives
The museum is, like everything in this country, poor as a church mouse. Dayna hit the gift shop and tried to help out. I hit the donation box to sweeten the pot a little. They can make even a dollar stretch seven ways to Sunday in this country. The museum building, which would fit in most middle class houses, was designed by Texas A & M students as a project. And, very well done I will say. This was a very good stop and further filled in the blanks about this country's horrible past. A must see stop for future travelers.
The next stop was the Butterfly Center
Our final stop of the morning was the Banteay Samre temple. Not a strong point of the day, but hell, we're half way around the world and they just don't build temples like this in Utah. So we persevered, if for nothing else but to make our nice driver happy. Another "glad we stopped" site.
We are back at the hotel, our minds drugged on temples, for a little cool air-cond Rest and Recovery, maybe a quick nap and then a walk to town for a very early dinner. Anchor Beer here is 50 cents a mug most places, so maybe just one or four to wash away the dust before dinner. Just pick a restaurant here, they are all good in this town.
Dayna's note: Although we forgot the camera and have no pictures, we had dinner last night at the Green Star restaurant which supports children. There are many businesses in Cambodia that sponsor children to help them go to school. This morning at breakfast, I was able to have a conversation with a young English woman who lives here, teaching school
Tiring of Khmer food, we found a cute little Italian restaurant on Pub Street for dinner. The food was good and, as usual, cheap. Two glass of wine, one large bottle of water, one salad, one pasta with mussels -- more mussels than I have ever seen -- all for $20. We then stopped at the ice cream shop -- it felt as if the heat was turned on and the ice cream started out soft. A little souvenir shopping and a stop at the pharmacy for more cold medicine and tissues before coming back to our hotel to gather laundry to be dropped off -- 1 KG for $1. Tomorrow, we are off on our ATV adventure.