Angkor Wat -- the awe continues

Trip Start Oct 31, 2012
Trip End Dec 12, 2012

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Monday, November 26, 2012

Since I am not going to see the sunset, I can start my day earlier.  The tuk-tuk driver waits for me, I once again show him the list of temples that I want to see, he tells me the best order to see them, then we are off for another exciting day. 

When the temples of Angkor Wat were first built, they were devoted to the Hindu religion.  However, after several kings and hundreds of years, the people slowly started to adopt another Indian religion -- Buddhism.  For awhile, the two religions co-existed, but after some time, everyone had switched.  Not much would be known about the way of life in these temples, as they didn't keep records.  However, in the 1200s, a Chinese traveler came to spend a year in Angkor Wat, and detailed in writing the daily way of thinking and life while he was there.  This is the only record from that entire time, and it is from these records that archaeologists and other behavioral scientists have been able to piece together and interpret what was left behind

At one site, Ta Prohm, which is being taken over by the forest, the backdrop of these trees' roots are extremely popular and photogenic.  With the space of the temple small, and everyone rushing to get to the photogenic spots, I found myself in at least four pushing matches, and I won all of them.  Each time someone would push me out of the way to get to the trees.  I wasn't going to put up with this, so I pushed them back!  It just took one push, and they got the message.  There is no reason for their behavior, and I wasn't going to be bullied.  Other than that, the temples continued to awe and inspire.  On the way to one site, Banteay Srei, which is 15 miles outside of town (or one hour by tuk-tuk), and was highly recommended to me by so many people, the drive was nice and relaxing, and gave me the opportunity to see daily life.  The temples visited today were Preah Khan, Ta Prohm, Banteay Srei and Pre Rup,

In the evening, I decided to venture into Siem Reap's downtown, which holds an (in)famous Night Market, and has two streets that are referred to as 'Pub Street," as they are jam packed with bars and restaurants; even the tiny alleyways are full of bars.  The Night Market was too busy for me.  I much preferred Luang Prabang's night market, as there, the vendors set up shop right on one long street.  To navigate, you just have to walk up one side, then when you reach the end, turn around and walk down the other side.  In Siem Reap, they are like cavernous warehouses that host one vendor after another, though they aren't packed in as they are in the market in Ho Chi Minh City.  You go from one building to the next, then the next, and so forth, all for the same items being sold.  After about 15 minutes of whisking in and out of a few, I had had enough, so headed to Pub Street, one streeet over, but it was so crowded, full of drunk people.  I had heard the night before that tourists would get into fights, or it was a problem making your way past drunken people, trying to stay straight up; this was for people of all ages.  Again, the Pub Streets were too overwhelming for me; it was like being at the mall the day after Thanksgiving, people everywhere, it was difficult to get around.  I knew it was time to leave when the whole area experienced a blackout.  Total time spent participating in Siem Reap's night life?  No more than 30 minutes. 

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