After our successful completion of the Dhaulagiri Circuit we could relax and spend a pleasant morning in the village of Marpha. We visited the monastery where a memorial ceremony was going on and were invited to sit on golden mats in the back of the monastery to watch the proceedings. Five monks were seated on each side of the room and the head lama was seated on a throne in the front right corner. We watched in quiet respect as the monks chanted, played horns, clashed cymbals and beat drums.
|Peggy Spinning Prayer Wheels|
|Our Nepali Trek Crew|
The last stop on our trip was Siem Reap, Cambodia to visit the ancient temple complex of Angkor. There are many temples built on the site from the 9th to 15th century by the Khmer Kings. We started our tour with a visit to Angkor Thom, the last capital city of the Khmer empire, established in the late 12th century by King Jayavarman VII. At the center of the city is the great Bayon Temple.
|Bas-relief Depicting Preparing and Serving Food|
The next day we visited the Preah Khan Temple. It was also built in the 12 century for King Jayavarman VII. Hidden deep within the collapsing walls of Preah Kham was a tiny shrine dedicated to Jayadevi, one of Jayavarman VII's two sister-wives.
|Jayadevi, one of Jayavarman VII's Sister-wives|
One of the most curious carvings was that of a dinosaur in the Ta Prohm Temple. Were dinosaurs even known in the 12th century?? Is this proof that dinosaurs and humans once coexisted??
|Ta Prohm Temple Dinosaur|
|The Movie "Tomb Raider" was Filmed Here|
|Banteay Srei Temple|
|Close-up of One of the Carvings|
That evening we climbed to Phnom Bakheng Temple to watch the sunset along with hundreds of other tourists. They did not seem to care that they were sitting on and possibly damaging a 9th century temple. We did not stay for the sunset.
|Tourists Watching Sunset from Phnom Bakheng Temple|
We saved the best for last, a visit to Angkor Wat. We asked our guide "how can we see the temple without the hordes of tourists?" "There are only two ways" he replied, "one is in a hot air balloon, the other is in a helicopter". The hot air balloon was out of commission so we chose the helicopter flight. We needed a minimum of three so purchased a seat for our guide Smey.
|Getting Ready for our Helicopter Flight|
From the air you get a sense of how big Angkor Wat is. The temple is surrounded by an outer wall with an apron of open ground. The jungle is beyond and a 625-foot wide moat encompasses the entire complex.
|Ariel View of Angkor Wat|
We couldn't fly directly over Angkor Wat so we did brave the crowds and visited the temple complex from the ground. We managed to avoid the worst of the throngs but couldn't escape them when climbing the steep stairs to the central tower.
|Monks Climbing to the Central Tower|
Our last stop on our Cambodia tour was a visit to Kampong Plok, a fishing village on the shore of a freshwater lake, Tonle Sap. During the rainy season, the lake fills with water and the village is over the water. People get around in boats and go about their daily lives as if they were living on dry land.
|Fishing Village of Kampong Plok|
That evening we enjoyed our last dinner in Cambodia at one of the local restaurants.
|Dinner at Champey's Restaurant|
We're now back home unpacking and doing laundry (fun, fun!). Until our next adventure, stay happy and healthy. See you later alligator (or crocodile).
|Crocodile Leather Shop in Siem Reap|
Hope to see you soon,
Peggy and Marc