After Shawn and I checked into our hotel, we met Dave, our guide. He rushed in all hot and sweaty from helping a friend move potted plants. He had just come back from Nepal so was all excited about the earthquake and what he had experienced there. We moved to the bar and had happy hour drinks while we discussed our itinerary. He hadn’t been involved in the planning so we had quite a bit to discuss. He had a very thick British accent and both Shawn and I found him hard to understand at times. Of course, Shawn and I were exhausted from our flight. We were in a hurry to say goodnight. We talked about the next day and where we would go and what we would do. He was a big talker and everything was a story so we were happy to finally say good night. Then we went to our room where we decided to have room service (no extra charge) I think Shawn fell asleep before the food arrived. We ate quickly and unpacked some and then went right to bed. I think it was about 8pm.
We were awake at 2:30 am. I decided to go ahead and get up so I could unpack and get my things together. We had to meet Dave at 7am. Breakfast started at 6am. Just getting it all together was a big deal because we had to put on sunscreen and mosquito spray. Thank goodness we brought some loose fitting clothes as we didn’t REALLY realize how hot it would be.
The hotel was really lovely and just what you would picture a tropical hotel. The employees were very nice and always extremely accommodating. The breakfast buffet was great – lots of choices – egg station, all kinds of sweet breads, soups, Asian dishes (which I loved), rows of hot entrees. By the time we got down there, we only had 30 minutes to eat but it was worth it!
Dave met us in the hotel lobby. It was already very hot and humid. Our first view of the Angkor temples was Angkor Thom through the south gate. It is unbelievable how big the whole complex is. We had a driver so he dropped us off and we began taking photos of the lake beside the entrance as well as the unusual boats anchored there. The scenery was beautiful along the Tonle Sap Lake.
We moved from the lake to investigate the unusual stone figures along the entrance. We discovered that the stone figures on the left were the gods and those on the right were the demons.
Here are photos of the boats which were near the entrance. The temple itself is call the Bayon Temple. We climbed to the top of the temple to see the Royal Palace temple of the elephants and the Leper King Terraces. There was a Buddhist shrine at the top.
You had to take off your shoes to go in. I got some neat photos inside the shrine. Dave was starting to get on my nerves as he was hovering nearby every moment trying to tell me how to photograph everything. I don’t mind help but right away I discovered that we differed on some key points. The heat was unbelievable and there were tons of tourists. I think it was over 100 degrees and humidity was 100 percent. Shawn and I were soaked and running out of energy.
There were many little open air restaurants nearby so we stopped to have a drink. Shawn and I had smoothies which were pretty good but a bit surgery. Dave mentioned that they add sugar to every drink so you have to be specific and ask them not to add it. From there, we walked through the woods and saw several interesting ruins. We came upon a group of musicians playing a variety of instruments. Next to them was a shrine with a giant Buddha. There are so many giant Buddhas that I didn’t bother taking a photo. We saw several nuns. They all have shaved heads. Sometimes they give you a blessing and a wrist bracelet of yarn. We also saw one of those very gnarled trees and I had my photo taken next to it. It was a pretty setting in the woods. We ended up at a Buddhist complex. As we walked up, the monk was pouring water on a whole group of people and their motorcycles. It was an ablution blessing. I went up into the complex and Shawn didn’t want to take off his tennis shoes so he stayed outside. There were several nuns inside and I tried to take some photos but the lighting was difficult. I went back outside just in time to see another water blessing. I took a photo of the people just standing up all wet.
It was just about time for lunch so we went back to the hotel. We had to take a shower before we went to eat. We ate our lunch in the hotel Bistro – Shawn had a seafood soup and I had spring rolls. Then we took a look around the hotel. The hotel boutique was really nice and had some very unusual gift items. They were a bit high priced so we decided to wait and see what we could find in the market or craft shops. We are staying in the same hotel our last night.
We didn’t get much of a rest but at least changed clothes and felt more refreshed. Dave picked us up at 2pm. We returned to the temples but this time went to the most famous Angkor Wat. It has a lovely reflection pool in front. There is a long walk across the pool until you arrive at the entrance. Beautiful architecture, bas relief, and fine sculptures made this a spectacular sight. We managed to make it to the top to see the shrine. There were several monks sightseeing and I got some good photos of them. At one point we stopped and had a smoothie and sat under a fan. It is pretty hard to ruin a smoothie but I couldn’t drink mine as it wasn’t very good or refreshing. I am going to include some photos of the temple as “a picture is worth a thousand words”.