Sunday, June 15, 2008

A trip to the temples

Poncho necessary due to rain - Nice look, might catch on (oh and ...Angkor Wat in distance!)

This weekend I flew to Siem Reap, home of the Angkor temples and the world famous Angkor Wat. I had been to the temple complex before last year but fancied another look. The flight was a bit of luxury as it meant avoiding a hard 5 hour bus journey. The bus is about $5, the flight about $100 (one way) and so there was a considerable loss of money by fliying but considerably less pain and trauma.

On Saturday, a tuk tuk took me to the main 4 temples I had seen before plus Brantrei Srei, a temple on the outskirts of the "tenple zone" that I had not been to before. Suffice to say the layout and the temples themselves had not change in the year since my last visit. They all looked the same(!) My catch phrase of "rocks and wood and 1000s of Korean tourists" probably doesn't do this [almost] wonder of the world justice.... It is very beautiful/historically important etc but personally I preferred my trip to the Happy Ranch on Sunday.

Happy Ranch is a horse farm just on the outskirts of town. I rode a hose called "Macho" and happily walked, trotted and cantered around the Cambodian countryside taking in the beautiful vibrant green paddy fields, the water buffallo, the children shouting "hello, hello, hello" coming out pof their wooden houses to say hello and swimming in flooded fields, toothless farmers, wooden ploughs, a burial ground where bodies are buried for up to 2 years before they are dug up (ugh!) to be cremated on the correct date in the low-tech (basically a concrete platform with an opening for wood to burn) crematorium next door, roads of red mud clay and roads that had turned to small rivers because of the recent start of the rainy season. There was also a cow that had gone mad and would buck and charge at the horses - Probably a case of BSE...I should stop eating Cambodian beef. Also part of the ride took us to a .... (go on guess!...) yes a temple! Wat Atvea.
We went very fast and managed to do a 3 hour ride in 2 hours - a lot of cantering which was great expecially in the wet rice fields. Not so great is the pain that my backside and thighs are currently feeling from the experience.

Here are some temple photos, sadly no horse pictures as camera/rain/potentially bucking horse do not mix. The above horse picture is an "artists impression" of what it was like today from the Happy Ranch website!

I do not know why this child was on his bike in a massive rain water lake/puddle - He waved but I assumed he was not drowning..?!

At the Bayon the rocks are carved into faces so more interesting than just stones!

The Rough Guide says Bantrey Srei will amaze even the most temple fatigued visitor. Yes, it is a different colour and has nice carvings so I guess a 5/5 for temple interest!

Below is Ta Prom where Tomb Raider was filmed... very atmospheric with the jungle taking over the temple on one level but on another level too many Koreans making "V" signs and posing with aforementioned jungle....

.... If you can't beat 'em (and believe me you will not win against 1000 Koreans (and their tour guides/umbrellas/matching T shirts/hats ) on a temple mission) - So I just had to join in with the rock/wood pose .....

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