Cambodia · Uncategorized

Elephants and Tuk-tuks

Another day in Cambodia, another day of amazing temples! Today’s favorite temple featured one of the most adorable animals on the planet: elephants!

I never did see a real one in Cambodia, but the pretend ones were a bit more manageable anyway. Despite it being the rainy season, the day started out bright and beautiful!

Even though we saw the main attractions the day before at Angkor Wat and Bayon, I was amazed that we kept coming across more and more temples, each delicately detailed and looming above the jungle!

 

Some of the carvings and statues were sort of haunting, others inspiring, and still others were intriguing. How did they make it so perfect? We were in for a very special treat that afternoon as well. After an awesome lunch at a roadside stand by one of the temples, we made our way farther afield (by tuk-tuk, of course) to Banteay Srei temple, one of the very best-preserved in the Angkor complex! It’s off the main two tour routes, so it was less crowded than some of the others, which was pretty nice! Check out the detail:

And here:

It’s made of pink sandstone and was built in the 10th century for the Hindu god, Shiva. Some of the temples are Hindu and others are Buddhist. And still others have been used for both religions! I’m sure the builders and people who worshipped here never thought it would be a tourist attraction 1000 years later!

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And on a more serious note, it really is remarkable that the temples have survived so long, and thought they are officially “ruins,” they are exceptionally intact. You may know that Cambodia has had a difficult past 100 years or so. Between the Khmer Rouge coming into power and orchestrating an abominable genocide of 3 million Cambodians, and also the Vietnam War, there are literally millions of land mines still buried and unmapped all over the country. Even today, farmers and other locals lose limbs and even their lives to landlines that were placed 20 or 30 years ago. We learned all that at the Land Mine Museum on the road between Banteay Srei and the other temples.

The most remarkable part of that story is that one former child soldier for the Khmer Rouge who buried many of the land mines is the one who started the effort to dig them up years ago. Now whole teams go out to find and disable the land mines, and many of them are on display at the museum.

By the time we got to the museum, it started raining HARD! And it was coming down even harder when we left the museum for the hotel. Lucky for us, the tuk-tuk has rain gear! And so did our driver. He was so awesome. He avoided big puddles and flooded streets and potholes to bring us safely “home” to the Bunwin Residence!

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We were scheduled to get back at 4:00, but because of the rain, we decided to cut it short. We spent the rest of the evening enjoying room service, pedicures, and massages! I also got my nails done–first time in over two years!

The next day was spent at the Angkor National Museum, where they have restored and displayed artifacts from the Angkor temples. Sorry, no pictures inside the museum. You’ll have to go visit for yourself! If I had it to do over again, I would probably visit this museum first, then visit the temples.

Tiffany and I enjoyed a lovely afternoon tea at a fancy spa restaurant after our museum visit because guess who got caught in the rain again! Once we got back to the hotel, Tiffany and I prepared to go our separate ways. she was off to a yoga retreat for the weekend, and I was headed home! Check out the ride to the airport:

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Yes, that’s my bag resting on the front of the tuk-tuk. Much to my delight, it never fell off!

Is there some place you’ve wanted to go for years? Where? And why haven’t you gone yet?

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