This morning Nicky, our guide, came to fetch us at 4.45 in the morning and drove us to Angkor Wat so that we could see the sun rising behind this mighty temple. All we could see for about an hour was flickering lights on the edge of a lake.
Then gradually it became lighter
and lighter to reveal this amazing silhouette: the great temple of Angkor Wat.
It also revealed the many people who come every morning to do this. We were lucky to have been in the front row thanks to Nicky.
There is a huge expanse of water all around the temple precinct, and the lake in front was covered in waterlilies,
which are collected and eaten by the locals.
Angkor Wat is enormous, and there was just so much to see and take in, that no amount of describing could do it justice. All around the outer colonnades are stories of battle - real and mythical, and inside are lots of Apsaras carved onto the walls and doorways - the same ethereal dancing girls that we encountered yesterday.
We sat in the centre area and gazed and marvelled,
then wandered some more - I especially loved the bas relief carvings along the outer walls - just look at this face of a Khmer royal soldier.
We eventually decided we had spent long enough, and walked back with several hundred other tourists,
some quite young,
and others intent on selling stuff - like this man who is selling potent cane spirit.
We then drove a way out of town, and came to the temple of Banteay Srei - a smaller temple dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva. It was apparently built by some king in honour of a young girl and thus has a dainty feminine feel to it.
Simon found some of the doorways very dainty indeed,
and this lass found a cosy corner to do some reading up on the temples.
The surroundings were also lovely - with viewing platforms out onto some fields where water buffalo grazed. Our guide said that as a small boy one of his jobs was looking after his mother's water buffalo.
Another platform looked out over these Lotus Lily leaves.
Then we drove some more through the countryside until we came to the temple of Beng Mealeawhich is where some of the movie Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom was filmed.
It is a large and beautiful temple, being gradually eaten by the jungle in a spectacular fashion. Just about every step reveals another stunningly picturesque view. We had no trouble finding some dancing Apsaras.
The Alph pretended to be Harrison Ford
and Simon appeared from the secret broken window.
roots twining and twisting like ghostly limbs.
This visitor was inspired to do a bit of meditation, but most just clamber and climb over the rubble and around the ruins, or use an old rickety wooden staircase erected for some earlier French movie, all gloriously oblivious to the health and safety factors that would have hospitalised the average Health and Safety Officer in the UK.
More lovely apsaras,
their little temple sprouting a giant tree. What an amazing place!
We had a late lunch on the way home, then a rest and a swim,
then Nicky picked us up and took us to a huge airy restaurant, the Koulen Restaurant, where we had dinner and
watched some modern day Apsara dancers
doing some traditional Cambodian dances.
This one was all about a Golden Fish and a White Monkey.
Then at 8h30 the show finished and the restaurant closed, so
we wandered back down towards our hotel. Everything still looks all lit up and Christmassy and full of life and noise - and people - and tuktuks and buzz bikes..
The kids here seem to stay up as late as the adults.
We found a silver Aspara dancer in a fancy shop too, but I imagine that it is quite expensive.
Anyway, time to say goodnight Coco - and send love to Phil and Kerryn. See you soon.
love the FL and the Alph x x