By Jody, Meghan & Avery
We had a glorious few days in Cambodia and spent our time based in Siem Reap exploring the amazing temples in Angkor Wat. We have come to learn the girls have a greater appreciation for these types of experiences when they have background before we visit, so we spent a couple of hours at the Angkor Wat Museum.
A relatively new museum, displays focused on the basis of Buddhism and Brahmism, the blending of these two religions within Khmer culture, the history of kings and the temples. The girls took interest in the different gods and the attributes that help identify them. Avery also enjoyed seeing a display on the evolution of Khmer script and took it upon herself to create her own language. We were set for our adventures and ‘rested up’ with a few hours at the pool that afternoon.
The next two days were jammed packed with temple explorations. Our first day was Buddha’s birthday so many celebrations were taking place with dignitaries and families at the various temples across the country. The larger ones, like Angkor Wat, even had parts with restricted access for those wishing to celebrate or pray. We decided rather than start with the ‘big’ and more well known temples, we would spend the day visiting the smaller temples surrounding the area including Preah Khan, Neak Poan, Ta Som, East Mebon, and Pre Rup.
We enjoyed exploring the smaller temples on this circuit. Despite the significance of the day, it wasn’t too crowded so we were able to roam freely, taking our time to explore the hallways, carvings and shrines. At the same time, we were fortunate to see some families arrive at the temples with offerings in celebration.
The second day we began early again. Again, it was hot and humid but we made a full day of temple exploring at Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom and Ta Prohm. These temples were far busier than those we visited the day before with tour busses arriving and us trying to avoid them. We were fortunate to start our day at Angkor Wat just as approximately 300 monks exited the temple. They were gathering offerings from the public. Their bright orange robes in a single long line was in stark contrast to the blackened stone of the temple. It was an incredible sight to behold.
We took time throughout the day to capture our impressions through photography, sketches and writing. How we each ‘saw’ the temples showed in our work. It was really interesting to see the impressions each of us had. What one of us saw, was sometimes missed by someone else.
We had all discussed that after our explorations, we would have to choose our favourite temple and share what we had liked best about it. Ta Prohm, with its gnarled roots, won over the girls quite easily as you can see from their writing.
On this trip we have been to 2 of the 7 wonders of the world: Machu Picchu and Angkor Wat. As we wandered around Angkor Wat we saw many monkeys. We also saw a lot of monks, about 300 of them. They all had bags to pick up all the offerings. I could see there had been a war there because there were bullet holes in the walls and pillars.
One one first views we saw of Angkor Wat was of the three points. They had tiny points on each side and the middle one was the tallest and the right one was the smallest. We went to the middle of the temple and our guide showed us a compass on his phone. It perfectly lined up to the inside of the temple. We learned about a big pit that used to be the king’s swimming pool. Beside it was a dancer carved into the stone named Apsara.
Ta Prohm is very crowded. Cambodia is hot itself. So when you take Cambodia and a few hundred people in that area, it is double the heat and I was BURNING!!
When you are touching something inside this temple, it feels bumpy because there are carved stones. When you run your hand over a wall it might go over a bump because the jungle is taking over the temple. There are a lot of awkwardly shaped trees that are growing on top and under the temple.
There are a lot of the same sounds at temples, like people talking, but the Ta Prohm temple is a bit different. It is loud with people talking and birds chirping. There are so many trees that a lot of the leaves rattle in the wind high above.
When you are in a forest and it’s quiet, you feel lost and alone. When you are at Ta Prohm you feel the same because you are surrounded by trees. I enjoyed exploring the Ta Prohm temple and want to learn more about how old the trees are.
The red rock looked like slow flowing lava that crumbled down to the ground. The wind whistled in my ear as I looked up and saw the trees towering over my head. I smelled the sap dripping down. I ran my fingers along the rough, jagged roots while they suffocated the temple. It seemed like they were caving in and squeezing the stone. I was surrounded. Roots wrapped around the ground and started to walk towards me. Despite the jungle taking over, the history will still be forever there.
We're the Danchuks - follow our explorations and family adventures in a wide world (2018).