The most obvious thing in our lives today was the heat. 35 to 40 degrees Celsius or hotter and more humid than we have ever experienced. It seems that April and May and the two hottest months here. If you can come in December or January it is 16 to 26 degrees Celsius. I went through three shirts and two showers on our tour. We have seen enough temples for this trip.
The second thing we noticed was, we are not in Kansas anymore. This is a different world. Motorbikes and tut tuts are the preferred method of travel. It is not unusual to see 3 people riding the same Honda 50 and the vendors are everywhere. Persistent is the right word but not overly pushy. Katy had a cute encounter with a 5 year old that asked her to buy at least ten time and when ready to give up finally hollered out “Why Not?”
4000 Cambodian dollars = $1 US. Prices are extremely cheap. The people very friendly and warm. We have been invited out to dinner and motorcycle riding tomorrow night by our waiters. I gave them some souvenir coins from around the world and showed them my Acer computer, let them play with it, and we made fast friends. The boys are the same age as our children and they will take Dad and Mom for a view of the city tomorrow. 1 million people in the area. 14 million in Cambodia.
The next thing that jumped out were the bullet holes from the last conflict in the 1970’s or 80’s between the Khmer Rouge and Cambodian government. The holes were evident and pointed out at one of the temples. The roads have been recently rebuilt and paved after the land mines were removed. Most of the land mines now are still on the Vietnam and Cambodian border. Some of the musicians in the first temple were Khmer soldiers that turned to music after the fighting.
Did I mention the heat?
The temples, about 46 of them, were built in the 10th and 11th century and are like nothing we have ever seen. They are being restored by different companies from Japan, Germany and other foreign countries, I guess because the Cambodians can’t afford it themselves. They are doing the restoration in sections so you get the feel of the unworked on areas without scaffolding and workers around you.
And the heat. OMG
The temples have undergone transformations from one religion to another. Some started as Hindu temples, others as Buddhist ones. When the Hindus took over the Buddhist ones, they removed all the Buddies and put in phallic symbols. When one of the conquering leaders took over, he took out all the phallic symbols. Now some of the stuff is being put back in place.
The ornamentation of the walls and interiors are covered with stone writings, and symbols. Most of the work is in very good shape and the guide could read us some of the script from the 14th century. There was monkey playing in one of the temples with a young boy who used to have some fruit. The monkey was harassing the young boy for more fruit and they got in a bit of a spat. I think the monkey won.
Our options today were to strike out on our own with a Tut tut driver that did not speak English for about $17 to $20 per day or to hire a guide and car. We took the cheapest car at $30 for the day including air conditioning, and the English speaking guide was $30 more. I’m glad we did it as the history is so unusual and the conflicts and changes these temples have gone through so numerous, we never would have picked it up on our own.
We also could have rented an elephant and driver for $15 US but there were no frequent flyer mile promotions, so we passed on that option.
Of the 40+ temples we saw the main tourist three. The first was the one used in the Tomb Rider movie where they left the tree growth inside the temple. The second was close by and I can’t remember the name and the third is the main temple that everybody thinks is Angkor Wat, but the name is incorrect for what it is presently being used for. Not that it matters, they were all fascinating.
Tomorrow and the next day are for the pool, sun in the morning and late afternoon. The mosquitoes are out early and just before dark. Rick will be inside during those hours. We may go shopping one afternoon if we can find an inside market. I bought the first T-shirt of the trip today for $3 as it was XXL. The normal sizes are $2.
We’ll try to put up more pictures than normal.
Thanks for following along. Did I mention the weather is cooler in December and January?
Damn it was HOT.
The Le Meridien is great. spacious, close to the temples, friendly staff and the air conditioning makes it bearable temps.