A week in Siem Reap.
19.11.2015 - 23.11.2015 34 °C
Siem Reap, Cambodia — It is so wonderful to be back here again.
An evening flight from Beijing, China, brings me to Cambodia. Arrival here is warm and sultry. We walk from the plane, across the tarmac and into a small airport. Customs and immigration is straight forward. One desk is busy with a crowd waiting for their entry visas. Quickly filling in paperwork, getting a photo and paying the fee of $32 U.S. and I am standing in with the crowd, while an official holds up passport photos or attempts a name, and members of the crowd push forward to claim documents. Then on to the immigration desk and 5 minutes later, I find I am outside the terminal looking for my way into town. A small kiosk in the front of the terminal sells tickets for a motorbike ride, tuc-tuc transport or taxi to town. Tuc-tucs (motorized rickshaws) are popular and economic. That is my choice.We head towards town, an open highway and then past high end hotels, decorated with lights for Christmas. We then get to town centre and the night markets and lively Pub Street, and along the river on to my hotel.
I enjoy the warm breeze as the tuc-tuc driver slides along to the town. ............ As we speed by, Pub Street is still throbbing.
I arrive at Riverside Hotel and get a great reception. Staff remember me and greet me very warmly, complaining “Susan, you too long not come here!”. This time I am a tourist! I’m not going to teach the orphanage, so I have a lot of free time. I have already seen many of the sights: Wonderful temples, silk factory, artisan’s crafts, rice fields, land mine museum, Rosanna theatre, and more. This time I will look up old friends and relax.
My top floor room is waiting, where I enjoy the deserted breakfast lobby overlooking the darkened sultry town. Tourists are setting out to enjoy the night life. I’ll explore tomorrow.
Dawn seems to me to come along very early. Maybe one reason for that is the time change: 13 1/2 hours later here than home.
Sounds of Traditional Cambodian music may be heard at dawn on a number of occasions for spiritual rites, weddings or Buddhist festivals. Daybreak is wonderful here - cocks crowing, a beautiful sunrise silhouetting palm trees and temples, cool temperatures (27 degrees or so). It is a great time to walk through the markets, just waking up for the day.
On this day I start getting in touch with acquaintances in Siem Reap and planning the three day holiday of Cambodia’s Water Festival, and wandering around the now very familiar town. It is a short walk to town, but always greeted with shouts of "Tuc-tuc, Madam?" and a wide smile. I head along the banks of the Siem Reap River towards town centre.
The town is reflected in the slow moving river.
As I walk along the bank, I hear, "Tuc-tuc, Lady?"
Things here are hot and wonderful. Markets are so filled with remarkable abundance.
Markets here have a much wider variety and profusion than western markets....... Sellers will be here from dawn till dusk, chatting and selling.
Chains of sausages, jars of pickles and packages of salt fish are well displayed in one small stall. There are hundreds of such stalls.
The town has many restaurants and shops, doing a thriving business during their dry season (November to March) Tourism has taken off in Siem Reap. I find it much busier than during my first visit, four years ago. The big drawing card is the great quantity of temples. (I wrote about my favourite ones in my earlier blogs: MY CAMBODIAN ADVENTURE http://sue-mcnicholas.travellerspoint.com and CAMBODIA INSPIRES..... AGAIN http://sue-mcnicholas3.travellerspoint.com).
Angkor Wat, one of the ancient wonders of the world....... Bayon Temple, 1190, represents the intersection of heaven and earth.
Ta Prohm: Trees rise from the ruins of this iconic 12th-century Buddhist temple surrounded by jungle.
Gate entrance to Angkor Thom temple from 12th century famed for 200 large smiling faces carved into stone walls.
Religion in Cambodia
Approximately 95% of Cambodia's population follows Theravada Buddhism, with Islam, Christianity, and tribal animism making up the bulk of the remainder. The wat (Buddhist monastery) and Sangha (monkhood), together with essential Buddhist doctrines such as reincarnation and the accumulation of merit, are at the centre of religious life, but interact with indigenous beliefs such as the central role of ancestors and spirits.
"Dana" food offering for the monks.
Shrines such as these sold at this little one-man business can be seen all over the province........Buddhism is practiced throughout Cambodia.
The next few days are "The Water Festival"............Be sure to click on "next" for the next entry of this travel blog : )
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