Friday, April 27, 2012

Thaibodia Day 5- Siem Reap and the Khmer Temples

We woke up fairly early… as our children have a horrible compulsion to wake up as the sun is rising. We got ready and headed down to breakfast. We wanted to make sure we were ready for when our tour guide showed up.

I was getting a little worried because it was already 8:00 and nobody was around. I checked my email and the guide sent me like 3 emails last night asking me to email them. I’d already set up the tour, but they wanted confirmation. Sean says it’s just something they do in Asia. It was annoying. I thought everything was already set up and ready to go. Luckily I called because we would have been S.O.L without a car or tour guide. Luckily I called. They quickly sent someone over and I think he got there around 8:30.
 We drove into the Archeological Park. We had to buy our Park passes. They are like $20 a day. Pretty pricey no? We thought… well… it’s worth it right? This money goes to help conserve and protect these awesome structures. Actually… we found our some super rich Vietnamese guy owns the park or something and he’s the one that collects all the money from the entrance fees. What the what?!!! It’s co-ops with other countries that do the restoration projects and stuff on the park. Isn’t that the dumbest thing you’ve ever heard? That money should go back into the park.
 Anyway… the first thing we went to see was this cool bridge. It was covered with these statues holding onto the body of a Naga. The Naga is the multi-headed snake that supposed to be a protector. On the left side of the bridge were the angel statues and on the right side were the demon statues. Apparently these creatures hold the Naga so its tail can mix the elixir of life.
 We got some cool pictures here. Then we went to the Khmer temple with all the faces. It was pretty awesome. There were lots of people here. We even saw some Monks paying a visit. We had a bit of trouble with Terryn. He kept wanting to run off somewhere. I carried Jayce in the backpack so Sean could go running after Terryn. Terryn just liked to do everything he wasn't supposed to do: climbing on unstable rock piles, stepping on ancient carvings, running off without Sean, throwing rocks at everything and going in restricted areas. Later in the day he mellowed out, but for awhile he was driving us crazy. Outside this temple they had elephant ride for those who wanted to circle the complex for a bit of a fee. Terryn went up to them to say, “Hello.”

 After this temple we went to another one that was modeled more after the Hindu style of temples. On the drive there we managed to see some monkeys out the window of the van. This temple had a long bridge to its entrance. Apparently this temple used to be surrounded by water. Moats were a common thing among these temples. It was considered holy. Our guide told us that most of the temples were never finished. Each one was built by a different king. It would take decades to build these and when the king died, the work would stop. The temple would turn into a stupa for the king and then the new king would begin a new temple for himself as a symbol of their power.
This temple had three different levels. You could take some super steep stairs up the different levels. Next to this temple where the ground of where the Royal Palace used to be. There are some small ruins there. There’s also the remnant of the stone fence. We saw the swimming pools from the Royal Palace. The Ladies’ swimming pool was enormous and the men’s swimming pool was small. It was because the king had over 500 concubines and this is where they would swim. The king would sit high in a nearby tower and watch them. What a perv. Anyway…
 After this we had lunch. Terryn fell asleep in the van on our way to the restaurant. I was probably only 5 or 10 minutes away from the ground of the Royal Palace, but he was exhausted. I think the heat had drained him of his energy. He did really well though. He had calmed down a lot for the last part of the tour before lunch. When we went into the restaurant, Sean laid him across two chairs and let him sleep. We ordered our food and by the time it came, someone who worked in the restaurant had picked up Jayce and was entertaining him. That worked pout for us because we could eat undisturbed. We ate quickly and then fed Jayce. We paid for our meal and then headed out to what we called the “Tomb Raider” temple. Apparently this movie was filmed here.
Tomb Raider Temple
Right before we went under the gate, Sean noticed that his wallet was missing. “Oh no,” I thought. I figured we’d been pick-pocket because we were bombarded by children selling postcards, musical instruments and books as soon as we got out of the van. We decided to go back to the restaurant and see if anyone had found it. I thought it was basically a lost cause. Who were we kidding? If anybody found it they’d be taking advantage of our cash and credit cards. Grrr…. Sean walked into the place with our guide. When he came out he was smiling so I knew he’d found it. He said it was still laying under the table where he’d dropped it. “No one had found it yet,” he said grinning. “He is very lucky,” our guide said. I think it was a freaking miracle. I’m serious! I was praying that he’d find it. The fact that no one found it was amazing and the best outcome we could have hoped for. Now Sean is making sure his wallet is always in a safe place before we do anything.
After being side-tracked, we continued to the Tomb Raider Temple. It was quite a walk to the ground from the road. We got to walk down a shaded walk way. One of the first things you notice about this place is the trees. There are tons of trees that are growing around, in, through and over this temple site.
Desecrated Temple where the Buddha has been cut out of the stone.
I have to say that this was my favorite site of the day. It was just so cool. We explored these grounds for quite awhile. Something that was pretty sad about this site though was that one of the kings changed religions from Buddhism to Hinduism. When he did this he had workers cut out or change all the engravings of Buddha. It desecrated the temple and scarred its walls. So sad. L
It was pretty hot here. As it had been for the whole day, the sweat was dripping down my entire body. I had streaks of sweat running down my arms, back, chest and legs. Combine that with the measure of dust that coated my body and I’m sure I looked like a freak of nature. Luckily, so did everyone else. Everytime I’d go to lick my lips, I could taste the salt on my skin. I don’t think I’ve every sweated so much.
The before and after pictures of the temple restoration.
A Buddha engraving that had been desecrated by carving over it and making it a Hindu priest.
Our last destination in the Archeological Park for the day was the Lady Temple. I think it was dedicated to the Mother of one of the Hindu gods. The carvings on the temple were pretty awesome. During the reign of Pol Pot, it was used as a hospital. Apparently he controlled this site for about 20 years or so. In order to protect it he placed land mines all around it. For that reason it’s still not safe to go tramping around in the surrounding forest. There are signs posted warning people about landmine. Can you say, scary?
Ancient Sanskrit of the Lady Temple pillars.
Both kids were pooped after the tour. Despite the gallons of water we consumed and the air conditioning in the van, we were dehydrated, hot and tired. But it was a good day. On the way back to our hotel we made reservations for a buffet dinner and show.

When we got into our hotel room, I herded everyone into the bathroom. Luckily it’s right by the front door. We were covered in dust, sand and sweat from head to toe and I didn't want us making our room totally nasty. We all took a shower. It was nice to feel clean again. After that I sorted some laundry and dropped it off at a laundry place. Hopefully we won’t forget to pick it up. Then it was off to dinner.
The buffet was pretty good. It wasn't amazing, but they did have a decent variety of stuff. We all ate our fill and then enjoyed the show. The show consisted of music and Khmer dancing. It was pretty neat to see. I really liked the costumes. Terryn was pretty good here. He kept wanting to sword fight with Daddy using toothpicks or chopsticks. At one point I told Sean we should move Terryn’s water because I thought he was going to knock it over. Not five seconds later his cup goes crashing to the floor and shatters. I was still mid motion to move it when it happened. Ooops.

We returned back to the hotel and got ready for bed. Terryn was almost asleep before he laid down in his bed and Jayce had fallen asleep in the restaurant and stayed asleep. We’re all exhausted and I’m the last one awake because I wanted to write about our adventures before I totally forget about everything. We’re excited for our tour tomorrow. We should be seeing Angkor Wat tomorrow. Whoo hoo! Hope everything goes well and then the kids behave themselves.

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