Cambodia

More Temples and a Circus!

After we finished with Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom yesterday, I figured we had kind of hit the high points of Siem Reap and it was time to just relax for a couple of days. I’m glad we decided not to, because today we saw some incredible temples, took a nice nature walk, and saw an amazing performance in the evening!

We started to the day with an hour and a half tuk-tuk ride out to a waterfall / nature hike. Definitely a long ride, but fortunately the scenery changed frequently and we got to see plenty of Cambodia outside of the city on our drive, which was an interesting trip on its own. Once we got to the nature hike, it was only 1.5 km to the top. On arrival, we were a bit disappointed that we had forgotten it was the dry season, so there was actually no waterfall at all. Still, we got to see some carvings in the stones around the waterfall (that was part of the appeal of the walk, there are some ancient carvings along the river) and enjoy a pleasant walk through a cool jungle.

After the waterfall, we went on to Banteay Srei, the women’s temple. It’s a long way out from Angkor Wat, so it doesn’t receive much traffic, but honestly it was probably the best temple we’ve seen yet. It was beautifully restored, not very trafficked, and easy to walk around and inspect. It was a gorgeous ruin, and I’m glad we went out there just for that.

On our way back we stopped at a butterfly conservatory (which was nothing special but still a nice stop), another small temple with a giant staircase (sadly it was very much in ruins and there wasn’t much to see at the top), and a gate to Angkor Thom. We went through the gate and came across yet another temple by the name of Banteay Kdei, which looked like it was in the middle of restoration but was still a nice stop, and then came back to the hotel for some rest.

In the evening, we went out to the Cambodian circus. We’d heard it was a circus of athletic performances and acrobatics, not of animals and motorcycles, so I had a pretty good idea of what to expect. Even so, it was incredible and a ton of fun to watch all of the acrobatics and performances. There were mini shows that gave a story to all of the acrobatics, so it wasn’t just flips and handstands for the sake of flips and handstands. Overall, the athletes were incredible, the show was fun, and I had a great time out.

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Cambodia, Vietnam

Goodbye Vietnam, Hello Cambodia!

Today was our first day in a new country, Cambodia!

Our last day and night in Vietnam was spent eating lots of pho, visiting a water puppet show (some cultural theater of Vietnam involving puppets on poles in a pool), and walking around markets. Now we’ve spent our first day in Cambodia, and it is already extremely different!

Rather than the bustling city that we left in Vietnam, we’re in the more spread out and dustier city of Siem Reap. We got in late, got lost on our way to the hotel, and discovered the widespread usefulness of the local transportation, the tuk-tuk. Our driver didn’t seem to understand us too well, but he got us to our hotel!

Our first day here was spent on a full day tour of various temples around Siem Reap. We first went to Angkor Wat, the big temple that everyone talks about. While it was a bit frustrating that it was so crowded, it was really an incredible sight and could have made a great day on its own.

After Angkor Wat we proceeded onto Angkor Thom, where we saw a jungle temple, a temple with 216 Buddha faces, and lots of gorgeous temples and ruins all around. It’s amazing to think that they have so many temples and ruins inside of Angkor Thom that they don’t even bother to restore or advertise many of them. Ruins just lie by the side of the road, looking beautiful and seemingly going unnoticed.

The day concluded with a trip up a large hill to yet another temple, where we went to watch the sun set over the country. As with the rest of the day, we were up there with 300 of our closest friends, which made it a bit difficult to get some good pictures but overall wasn’t too bad. The sun didn’t so much “set” as “disappear into haze”, but it still made for a good evening and a good end to a very exhausting and incredible day (I know there aren’t really any photos in this post, I just took way too many. If you want to see more then check out my Flickr album).

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