|The Wat visit started with Angkor Wat. It is breathtaking and amazingly massive standing 65 meters high. It was built in the 12th-13th century with over 19,000 elephant who brought the stones from the quarry 85 km away. Our tour guide, Mr. Yous Sa is an amazingly funny and animated person who kept us laughing for two days straight. He did a great job describing the carvings in the Wats depicting Hindu mythology and the meaning behind them at each temple. Many of the Wats hid thousands of Rubies and Diamonds in the walls. Now only burrow holes remain to show this. Each Wat reaches a higher point as we near the center representing the center of the universe. Moving towards the outside of the complex represents the start of life. As we reached the inner towers of Angkor Wat, we were able to climb up to the Heaven at a steep 61-degree angle. It was fun going up, but a little more difficult coming down! Angkor Wat was constructed as a Hindu temple but now serves as a Buddhist temple.
Angkor Thom was built in the 12th-13th century. It is amazing and crowned with four different faces at each gate. All the Wats have Buddha Temples in them with Monks waiting for prayer. We visited one of them here. The Ta Prohm is the one featured in the movie Tomb Raider, built in the 12th-13th century. It is most known for the trees that are growing from the structure. The trees are over 400 years old! Another Wat is Banteay Srey, known as the "citadel of the women." Daughters were brought here for blessings and for marriage preparation. This one was built in the late 10th century and the oldest one we visited. We stopped briefly at Neak Pean, constructed in the late 12th century. It is a simple temple of heaven surrounded by water and 8 pools around it. Lastly was Preah Khan, constructed in the 12th century. The round columns are unique in this Wat. Also, upon entering the doors became shorter and shorter forcing people to bow to the Gods and pray upon entering. We felt like we saw so many wats, but only scratched the surface.
Another stop in Siem Reap was the floating village. Words and pictures hardly do this justice. The floating village just south of Siem Reap is on Tonle Sap - The Great Lake. Taking a small boat ride around filled us with mixed emotions seeing how some Cambodians live remarkably happy. Many families in Cambodia have 6-12 children and live in small hut homes. In this village the homes are on loads of bamboo to keep them afloat. Again, Mr. Yous Sa gave us many stories and taught us a lot about the country from past to present. Throughout Cambodia, we cannot believe how welcoming everyone is and everywhere we looked we were greeted warmly with the "Khmer Smile". The kids are amazing, and we learned a lot about how they move on from the past and try to improve the country through education. On our way back from the floating village we were able to stop and try some local cuisine. We both tried water rat, which was grilled with a lot of spices. Although it wasn't bad, we can't say we'd try that again.
From Siem Reap, we took the Dancing Road by car to Bangkok. This isn't called the Dancing road because it is graceful!! This is the bumpiest road in the world. Even our insides hurt from all the movement. It was amazing to watch the driver swing from one side of the road to the other to avoid potholes as big as the car! Apparently, certain governments are paying money to Cambodia officials to improve this road link with Bangkok, at the same time, Bangkok Airways is paying money to the same officials to "Slow" that construction progress. You have to appreciate the will of corruption. The ride took us through rural Cambodia and tiny villages. It was interesting to watch and figure out how many people travel this road in one pick-up truck. They had to have at least 20 people on them, even riding on the hood and roof of the trucks!