04 January 2015

Our first day of temples

Dear Coco
Today was our first day of exploring temples. We met our guide, Yem Kosal who says we must call him Nicky, and he whisked us off in an air-conditioned Toyota Highlander to the first of 6 temples. It is a most amazing experience to walk through these 1000 year old, intricately constructed but almightily ruined architectural treasures that were built by the ancient Khmer people. This one is called Pre Rup.
It was guarded by stone lions that look a bit like Harvey.
And I even found a Hindu version of the Green Man.
This temple, called East Mebon, was completed in the year 953. It was once surrounded by water, and is famous for its many life-size elephant statues that guard each corner.
The three of us, with the lotus-shaped towers that characterise many of these temples.
Some of the carvings that are just everywhere. There must have been hundreds of trained stone-carvers in those days. 
This is the Alph with our really great tour guide - Nicky, who was born in Cambodia.
Weedy little Ageratum plants grow all over the temples.
And here is a temple dog that belongs to the villagers who have stalls in the parking areas in front of the temples. They are very tough, rather flea-bitten little dogs, but at least they seem happy.
The next temple was more Buddhist - although Hindu and Buddhsm are rather mixed here. This is the smiling Buddha gateway to Ta Som
where we came across the dancing ladies - called Apsara - for the first time.
Ta Som is slowly being eaten by the jungle.  
We met another temple dog here too.
Then we visited a small temple which had lots of different ponds - each representing one of the elements - Earth, Fire, Wind and Water. To get there we had to walk across a long causeway - with waterlilies flowering all around.
It is called Neak Pean
and there were no dogs there but some cute kids.
We then visited Preah Khan temple with 72 of these scary snary rock monster carvings of the vulture creature called Garuda all along the side of the moat, which is now dry.
 After a good lunch at a local restaurant we visited the fifth temple of the day - Ta Prohm which was built as a kind of university temple. This is Simon and the Alph and our guide, Nicky, at the entrance.
It was also being eaten by the jungle and was full of people - and we discovered that it had been used to set the scene in the movie Tomb Raider with Angelina Jolie. .
 Marvelling at Vishnu in another 1000-year old temple, Prasat Kravan, our last temple for the day. We were all suffering from temple fatigue by then.
It was quite a relief to get back to our hotel to try and collect our thoughts. Having a swim helped.
Then, after a relax, we ventured out into the pulsating nightlife of Siem Reap.
We attended a really interesting concert that the Alph heard about. This is Beat Richner, a Swiss Paediatrician and cellist who started the world class and world famous children's hospital in Cambodia which is completely free for all children. He has to raise funds for it because the Cambodian government contributes less than 10% towards it as they shockingly corrupt. He played some rather sad classical cello pieces and showed a movie on the Kantha Bopha Hospitals here.
So we are having a really interesting time, but I still madly miss you and Lad and Harv.
Not too long now before we are home.
lots of love darling Po-faced Coco,
the FL

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