Friday, 19 February 2016

Siem Reap February 14. Ruins and circus

This was another sight filled day. Lots of walking and climbing. In the morning, 8am I traveled by Tuk-tuk to the ruins. I choose not to do Angkor Watt or the Bayon ruins, this date.
I purchased my pass for $40 which allows 2 or 3 days of attending the ruins
My intention was to go to three ruins. My Tuk-tuk driver had other ideas. I started with Phnom Bakheng. This is the temple recommended to watch the sunset over Angkor Wat. I was able to get a nice picture with the mist as I don't expect to get up early for a sunrise or desire to fight the crowds for a sunset picture.  Phnom Bakheng was  built late 9th century or early 10th century and is the first temple built in the Angkor area and is of Hindu creation.

The walk up to the ruin was very nice, I did not see another visitor on my walk up. Very few visitors are at the top but I did encounter a few more walking down. At this time of day the early risers are gone and most tourists start with Angkor Wat.  On the walk up the hill I could see Baksei Chamkrong.

My first temple - I am disappointed.  They are presently in the process of restoring. A crane is in the temple area, certain areas have wooden supports, wooden stairs are over top of the orginal stone steps. Although I understand the restoration. ....  I did manage to get a couple pictures without showing the crane etc. Elephant rides are available but I didn't see any at this time.

The next was Preah Khan. To get there we travelled over the moat and through the Southgate and Northgate of Angkor Thom, the walled moated city, built in the late 12th century.  At one time it was the most populated city in the world. Elephant rides were being offered in this area.

Preah Khan was worth the trip!!! It was constructed late 12th century and was to serve as a Buddhist monastery with over 1000 monks. As well, thousands more were living there to maintain the monastery.  It is a huge complex full of carvings and passages. It was fun turning corners to see what the next sight may be.

Although I had negotiated with my Tuk-tuk driver three ruins, he really felt I needed to see more. After a couple stops where I told him no - I didn't want to see that ruin,he was quite insistent that I spend time at Chau Say Thevoda , and Thommanom.  Two ruins across the road from each other. Perhaps my Tuk-tuk driver just wanted to sleep.

Thommanom was built late 11th century, Hindu design. Many of the carvings are still in excellent condition. Chau Say Thevoda is similar but built a  half a century later. The floor plans of these two small temples are very similar, however Chau Say has some Buddhist themed carvings along with the Hindu carvings.

Next was Ta Keo. It was a very tall ruin and I was reluctant to climb as I was getting exhausted. ....but my Tuk-tuk driver insisted. Again he was right!! This is a towering temple dedicated to Shiva. Although there isn't a lot of carvings, the structure and views are worth it.

Finally!!!!! The third set of ruins I wanted to visit. Ta Prohm - featured in LaraCroft Tomb Raider. Built late 12th century, early 13th, this temple is famous for the tree overgrowth.  It was a monastic complex. At its time, it was enormously wealthy and had control of 3000 villages, thousands of support staff and mountains of jewels and gold.  It felt like a maze and ever turn was breath taking. Definitely my favorite of the day. I  limped back to my Tuk-tuk,  stopping at a vendor to try Milk - fruit.  My Tuk-tuk driver Mr. Sat appeared unsympathetic to my exhaustion and said " You want to go back to your hotel now???".

After a rest at my hotel, some food and a $3 foot massage I felt I could function again. 
The temple ruins are divided into three tours. Day one - small circle. Day two - grand circle. Day three- outlying circle. I'm not sure how such a compact adventure could occur. It would be possible to spend hours at each location.

In the evening I had another treat. I attended the Phare Cambodian Circus. I had read on TripAdvisor of its excellent show and heard from other tourists that this was not to be missed.

After the fall of Khmer Rouge many different ways and attempts were used to help the disadvantaged youth regain some purpose. Schools, art projects,and other means we're tried. This worked for some, however, for the extremely dysfunctional, traumatized youth nothing was working.
Phare Circus was created by 9 Cambodian refugees at Battambang and includes free education and vocational arts to extremely disadvantag

ed youth. So far 1,200 youth have benefited and 150 have moved on to international circuses. The high energy, discipline and creatively appears to have worked for this group of youth.
The show was high energy, totally engrossing, entertaining. I loved every minute of it. 

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