06 January 2015

Floating villages and smiling buddhas

Dear Coco
Today is our second last day in Cambodia - and our last day with our guide, Nicky. First on the itinerary was a boat ride - and we drove up to the Tonle Sap Lake along the Siem Reap River which empties into the lake. As you get closer to the lake, you go past extensive rice fields that are able to use water from the lake to grow rice in the dry season.
We boarded a small boat and set off up towards the main part of the lake past lots of fisherfolk who live and work on the lake.
Many of them live in floating houses that they move according to the depth and spread of the water at different times of the year.
We were taken to a floating information centre and shop with a few displays about this lake and it wildlife and fishing activities and a rather sad little crocodile farm with a motley collection of crocs that have been bred or caught and kept to be sold to the handbag factories when the price is right. This perky little dog lived on it too.  
It also had an observation deck for us to gaze upon the vast stretch of water and the quaint floating village at its edge. 
It has a floating school.
and even a floating church! Excuse the angle of the photo but our boat must have been pitching rather.
After the tour we returned to where we had boarded, got off our boat, and walked back to the car past these cute little kittens that would have made you and Laddie crazy,
and past a cheery banner - which was funny because I had seen many of these draped over the fishing boats on the river and the lake.
We drove back into Siem Reap, passing this entrance into a modern temple that our guide, Nicky, was quite embarrassed about and said was new and not at all representative of Siem Reap.We wondered what they were - Lionelephants maybe?
He then took us to an interesting arts and crafts centre, the Artisans Angkor, who make exquisite high quality goods including statues for restoration purposes in some of the temples. 
Then on to our final temple, through the gates of the ancient Khmer city of Angkor Thom
and into the fabulous Bayon Temple that also had fantastic intricate bas relief carvings around the outer walls. This one is of a dragon boat.
And for you Coco - some monkeys (I didn't see any baboons but monkeys are close enough).
It was a much hotter day than before and we took advantage of some shady seats to contemplate and try and take in the magnificent semi-ruined temple, the last of the Ankgor state temples to have been built.
It is famous for its many lotus bud-shaped towers, each with four smiling Buddha faces, totalling 216 faces in all.
We all rubbed noses with a Buddha.
Quite fun!
I loved these carvings of parrot-like birds because there are lots of noisy little parrots flying around, high in the trees. 
Being midday, it was not too crowded, but is was rather warm
and everyone was taking advantage of shady spots.
But we eventually had to leave, and that was the end of our temple explorations. It has really been a pretty mind-boggling three days! 
We had a cosmopolitan evening in town - having supper and a whiskey and soda at an Irish Pub, passing an American internet cafe on the way in
and a cute old Peugeot on the way home. 
Well the time is flying now Coco and we will soon be home - just four more sleeps.So till then, be good. Love from the FL xx and the Alph xx

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