Another hot for the Wat day in Siem Reap. Going up to about 98 F with oppressive humidity. We have time for two more special Wats of Cambodia’s more than 1,000. We stock up on water, put on our hats and make off to Angkor Thom to see Bayon temple and the very photogenic Ta Prohm.
We entered Angkor Thom through the South gate, traffic squeezing to get through the narrow space. It’s the same space that Khmer tanks tried to break through, nearly toppling the tower.
We got out while waiting for the van to pass through and looked at the causeway flanked by these impressive (154 statues) gods on the left and demons on the right, each carrying a giant serpent (Naga). The snake is broken off in this section.
The apsaras are gorgeous here as are…
The bas-reliefs are amazing in their art and their stories. And so are the stories of our local Cambodian tour guide who saw, first hand, the horrors of the Khmer Rouge, land mines, and the killing fields….
We then moved the stunning visuals of Ta Prohm where the jungle infiltrated the temple, tearing much of it down, but leaving what you see in this sampling of photos. Preservation and restoration work is being done via UNESCO and Cambodian funds.
On a very hot day we drove off toward the water to catch an open long-tail boat to visit the floating villages (and to catch a little breeze). These little guys expertly help launch the boat and then surprise us with shoulder and back massages…also expertly done. The water is extremely low this year so we must stay carefully in the center of the channel toward the bay.
There are something like 30,000 people living in their floating homes and businesses. Fishing is the predominant way they earn a living…and the living doesn’t appear to be that good from our perspective.
Tourism and some begging supplement their income. The kid in the basin did not want to be there. And, frankly we didn’t want to see this. The utter poverty and begging mentality we continue to see in places like this tends to make us want to cry too.
But this kid was quite comfortable showing off his pet. Is that cool Miles and Abyl? [What’s not cool is the fact he is really forced to do this as part of his family’s begging “occupation”]. There are schools we see in the village, and a raised, caged-in playground. We hope these kids will be able to take advantage of those schools and playgrounds too.
We make our way back with the warm, but still refreshing breeze of the moving boat and back to the hotel to start packing up our things and memories for the trip back home tomorrow.
[But wait…. Getting out of Cambodia won’t be as easy as it should. More of that in the final post].