After lunch we are ready for the best-known temple in Cambodia and maybe Asia: Angkor Wat. Under a glorious sun our guide shows us the pride of the Cambodians. Angkor Wat (early 12th century), the largest religious structure in the world.
Angkor Wat and the moat surrounding it
Busy causeway leading to the main entrance
The cleaning team
Yes sometimes people take pictures of us
Angkor was built by Suryavarman II. It is the representation of Mt Meru, a sacred mountain in Hindu and Buddhist religion, on earth. The central tower is Mt Meru, the moat represents the mythical oceans surrounding the earth, the galleries represent the mountain ranges surrounding Mt Meru and the towers are the mountain peaks. It is indeed the largest temple of the Khmer temples but it was also a city in its own. Angkor Wat was dedicated to Vishnu (Hindu), later it was converted to a Buddhist temple.
There are almost 2000 apsaras to be found in Angkor Wat
Some young buddhist monks are visiting the temple just like us and are much photographed. They are actually a lot more popular than the bored-looking traditional dancers that are posing for tourists for money near the central tower.
Yes they also have smartphones
Expect to pay if you want a picture with the dancers
Recently wooden steps where installed to go the central temple;. Can you imagine that before you had to climb the original stairs on all fours
Impossible to stop taking pictures. Have you seen the light conditions?
A lady and her lions
An extra gift when we were leaving
If you think that after busy days visiting temples we just relaxed at the hotel, think again. One evening we were dropped near the night market. For some of the passengers this was the big event of the day, enthusiastic to by coulourful scars, bags and jewellery. After a stroll through the market (there would be plenty bying opportunities later on) we walked over the bridge to the city centre. I was here before with my brother and his family and it was nice to see again the places where we went at that time.
During our time in Siem Reap we dine in Restaurant Asian Square. They have a pleasant courtyard but as it had been raining we unfortunately sat inside in once again an airconditioned room. Another evening we are treated to a show dinner with Apsara dansers (traditionnal Khmer dance). The dancers are actually still children. They do a good job telling the story and it is nice that they are having fun, even giggling themselves through certain dances. After all they are children.
What a beautiful day, full with impressions we were glad to be back in our hotel for a good night rest.
Photos: Mike & Véronique
Note: if you want to learn more about the Angkor temples, a comprehensive guide is “Ancient Angkor” by Michael Freeman & Claude Jacques