Sunday, October 26, 2014

Angkor

It was a long journey by minibus from Bangkok to Buri Ram, then over the border to Siem Reap, Cambodia.  But the stunning views of Angkor made it all worth it.  Oddly enough, Siem Reap runs on the dollar so I was swapping George Washingtons right and left and the trip wasn't quite as dirt-cheap as I'd hoped.  Still, the sense of standing somewhere truly ancient is electrifying and I've already made note of what to prepare for my next trip to Cambodia.

Quick facts:
The area collectively referred to as Angkor is composed of several Khmer capitals (most famously Angkor Wat) mainly built between the 9th and 15th centuries.  Its temple motifs convey both Buddhist and Hindu imagery as various successors redesigned the city to reflect their own beliefs.  Common building materials included brick, sandstone, laterite (iron-rich clay), and wood.  Sadly, earnest restoration efforts began relatively recently.  Bullet holes and graffiti mar some edifices, and evidence of theft (by cutting away statue faces and free-standing figures) abounds.

This is the fantastical sort of place I always dreamt of finding on backyard adventures amongst the trees.  Truly amazing, and the pictures don't do justice.

1st Pit Stop in Buri Ram  






 Re-vamped kitchen and a new kitty cat, who is actually incredibly sweet despite his resemblance to Grumpy Cat.








Around Angkor
     Toon's family came with us across the border to Siem Reap for the day to get a quick tour and some photos around Angkor before heading back home.










Angkor Wat


 Mode of transport for the first day






 So bright!  Then cloudy, later rainy, then bright and sunny again.






 Delightfully chilled and refreshing sugar cane juice






























 Can't help but wonder how many people have exactly the same pictures as I do.



Ta Prohm
















 
Bayon




















Kbal Spean
  The next day we headed about 50 km out of  town by way of a tuk-tuk (a two-bench cart pulled by a motorbike).  The trip was a wonderful opportunity to take in the countryside.  The Kbal Spean site features remarkable sculptures carved into the river bed of the Stung Kbal Spean. 

 Mr. Ken leads the way






 A big group headed on an annual trip to donate supplies and money to the monks at the local temple








Time to top off the tank


 Four-faced god Brahma sitting on a lotus

Reclining Vishnu


Reclining Vishnu



 Promptly at 1pm, the nearby gates of the Angkor Centre for Conservation of Biodiversity open for a guided tour of the nature conservation center.  Every animal at ACCB is native to Cambodia and was rescued from the illegal wildlife trade.  Our guide was very informative and explained the complexity of educating the local community and disenfranchising the illegal trade in wildlife.  The experience didn't lend itself to much photo-taking, but we saw and learned about the amazing (and some very rare) animals living at ACCB, including gibbons,  greater and lesser adjutant stork, wolly-necked stork, green peafowl, leopard cats, langurs, long-tailed macaques, pangolins, and the great ibis.  These animals are too reliant on humans and as such, are at great risk of being recaptured into the exotic animal trade if they released back to the wild. 

                                    video

The critically endangered and extremely human-wary great ibis gives an unexpected performance.


Banteay Srei












Baupon / The Royal Palace / Tep Pranam / Preah Palilay













Buh-bye!