Saturday, February 20, 2010

Cambodia Photos

From Vietnam, we took a riverboat across the border and up to Phnom Penh, Cambodia's capital. We stayed there for a night, enjoying Khmer cuisine, walking along the riverfront, people-watching, and museum going. At times, it was easy to see that it is an international capital, with a diplomatic feel, but it felt quieter and calmer than any city we'd been to recently. There were colorfully-clad monks strolling the streets, kids playing with flocks of pigeons in the huge public square, and tuk-tuk drivers taking afternoon naps. We had time to explore the national museum, (the first picture above), with relics from Angkor, among other parts of Cambodia's history.

The next day, we took a bus up to Siem Reap, home to the temples of Angkor. We spent a lazy first night there enjoying our guesthouse, The Golden Mango Inn, which was a large old house with very friendly staff and a crocodile farm out back! We also took time to check out the Old Market Area (a huge market, full of all sorts of souvenirs and goodies) and "Bar Street" - a pedestrian street of bars and restaurants that has grown up over the last ten years.

We spent all of the next day exploring the temples, starting with Angkor Wat, the largest (the second picture.) We hired a tuk-tuk driver to take us around for the day (the temples are in a massive national park and a whole day is barely enough time to see even the highlights.) The temples were incredible. They had been built over a span of 400 years and varied widely in architecture, building materials, and Hindu and Buddhist design. Each one was more amazing than the last and they have been left fairly open for exploring, giving us the sense that we were Indiana Jones or some similarly exciting explorer. Beyond Angkor Wat, we saw ten more temples, including Banyan (the third picture), known for its hundreds of faces carved into stone, and Ta Prohm (the fourth picture), one of the few temples that has been allowed to keep the trees that had grown up over and around it. Before sunset, we hiked up to the oldest temple in the area, on top of a small mountain. We were soon joined by every tourist in the country - the pictures show the transition from quiet resting place to crowded, sweaty horde of amateur photographers.

More pictures here: There are A LOT, so skim!

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