Angkor Wat and Ta Prohm

Trip Start Feb 19, 2010
Trip End Mar 08, 2010

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Flag of Cambodia  ,
Wednesday, February 24, 2010

7:45 departure today. We're on the way to Angkor Wat. We return to the park check-in station where our ticket is punched. We enter the Wat through the west gate. Group photo time. Should be a nice shot with the wat behind us. Then we start down the gallery- picking out all of the individual scenes within the long bas relief. This wall is like Dante’s inferno- all of the punishments for diverse sins. Then we move on to the glorious battle scene- death in all imaginable ways. And then on to scenes from the Ramayana before walking up to the second level.

The narrow walkway opens into a set of open "squares" with a lowered pool type area in the center. Seth says this captured rain water and was considered a holy bathing area. There are a couple monks off to the side at a living Buddhist shrine. They are apparently telling fortunes for contributions.

Then we walk on to a large open area surrounding the inner towers. Steep steps with iron rail have been built over the stone steps to allow access to the holiest area. We have to meet dress codes to ascend- no shorts-on women, covered shoulders, no hats etc. Donna gets wrapped with a couple of the Cambodian scarves so she can make the trip. The staircase seems to be at a 90 degree angle and goes up several floors. I’m pretty winded by the time I get to the top. With the intense heat- we’re in open sunlight while waiting- I feel like sun stroke is a very real possibility. I have to sit and rest a bit. Luckily, there’s a slight breeze.

The 3rd level has 4 Buddha’s facing the four directions, one in each of the 4 top towers. The other Wendy and I have been left behind. We slowly make the tour around the four sides. The north (?) is wonderful- there a strong breeze there. We linger to relish the relative coolness. The east side allows an overview of the eastern approach across the moats to the wat sanctuary. We can also see the tethered yellow balloon ride, rising only so high against its tether, allowing an overview of the Wat from the east.

Finally, we make the full circuit and are back at the same entrance stair case. I do the sideways crab walk down- one step at a time, clinging to the hot iron stair banister. It seems to go on for an eternity. I’m ready to collapse when I take that last step. The group is all gathered in the shade by the walls. Only a few seconds to gulp down the last of my water, and then begin the walk through the wat to the outside. I hadn’t realized how long the inner and outer courtyard were. I keep trudging through the heat.

We spot some couples dressed up in their wedding finery. They come to the wat for their photos. Lovely background for them. When we at last reach the roadside, we cross and are accosted by vendors. Break through to the restaurant/shop that is out lunch location. They hand out the cold washcloths- I’m everso grateful for this tradition. I wrap it around my neck and leave it there for the duration. J. almost walks out with hers still wrapped around her neck. Chicken curry with potatoes and carrots- very nicely presented and quite tasty. After lunch I buy a couple of items in their art shop- mostly silks but also some silver work and spices.

We drive back to the hotel afterward and then attend the next lecture at 2 after a brief rest. The presentation is on the restoration process. It’s quite good- very detailed information and photos. We have to rush out to catch our 3pm bus to Wat Ta Prohm. This is the wat with the trees growing through its buildings and walls. It was back drop for some shots in the first Laura Croft movie. It really is amazing that over time the roots can break apart stone. Back to the hotel by 5:30. Dinner is in the hotel tonight followed by the aspara dancing show. It’s not all that exciting, but we sit through it all. Then to bed.
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