Siem Reap Day 4

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Monday, January 10, 2011

Siem Reap Day 4

As promised the previous day, we started the morning with an elephant ride for those members of the group that had requested one the day before. Three rode whilst the rest of us scurried along in front of the elephant to gain a shot of those aboard. I was amazed at the speed at which these beautiful animals move - their speed forcing us into a run to keep in front.

The rides cost USD 15.00 in the morning and USD 20.00 in the afternoon. A unique feature of the elephant handler sitting on the neck of the elephant is his pocket on the back of his shirt between his shoulder blades. This pocket is to receive tips from those on board. It is common to pay USD1.00 for bananas to give to the elephant at the end of the ride.

During civil wars in Cambodia, plundered antiques were sold on the black market for USD 5,000.00 – 10,000 to buy ammunition. Most of the antiques are now in France.

Our group move to the Ta Keo Temple, which remains unfinished because of it being struck by lightning during construction and therefore deemed unlucky. This is also a pyramid temple, being built 968-1001AD by Jayavarman V.  Had it been finished it would have undoubtedly been one of Angkor's finest temples.

From here we move to Pre Rup, built by Rajendravarman II.

Pre Rup means 'turning the body’ and suggests the tracing of body shape from the cinders in a ceremony that may have been a royal cremation. The temple was rebuilt in 1995, having the top tower bricks replaced.

Inside the gates are two crematoriums. Although we did not participate, Pre Rup is one of the most visited sunset advantage points as it gives a superb view of the setting sun across the surrounding rice fields.

Our group move on to Banteay Srey Temple, also considered as one of the most beautiful of Angkorian Art. Built of pink sandstone, it is very well preserved for it was not re-opened until 1999, because of civil war at the time and land mines still being present in the surrounding area.

It was built in 967AD and only discovered in 1914. It was the first temple to be restored, being rebuilt between 1933 and 1936. It lay abandoned from 1972 to 1999.

After lunch at Sam Own Angkor, we once again visited the famous Angkor Wat for exploration of the inner buildings.

As we were entering the main gate from the causeway, Kim and I spotted a wedding party having their ‘Pre-Wedding’ photo shoot. Kim our guide stated talking to members of the wedding party – three bridesmaids and groomsmen together with the groom (bride was changing dress) and next thing I am being asked to also photograph the members of the wedding party. I was asked if I would take some prints back for them when I returned on my next tour in just over a month’s time.

Without imposing on the hired photographer I got off a few images which I will take back upon my return in March.

Weddings in Cambodia are quite an affair and it is not unusual for the bride and groom to have over six different outfits for various ceremonies of the marriage.  Each are pre-photographed before the wedding day.

Should you be visiting Cambodia, try and view the wedding album of your guide, for you will be amazed at the glamour and colour of the various outfits. You will see truly beautiful colours and design.  

Guests give money to the bride and groom, no set amount but usually between USD5.00 and USD15.00.

Our guide Kim had invited over 600 guests to his wedding.

We remain wandering within Angkor Wat and finish the day by capturing the sunset over this amazing building.

This is the last time that this tour group will be within the Angkor complex and as we leave, we think back over the last few days, of the images that we have captured and the truly wonderful sights we have seen.

The imagination runs wild at how these buildings and those people who had inhabited them would be like  - if we could only be transported back in time to experience such wonders.
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