Where to begin. Work has continued on as before, we're still alive from dodging traffic, the intestinal issues have moved to the lung for Al, the temperature rises with each day causing so much perspiration that I can't wear my glasses, and other than that things are rosey!
Best part of the last few weeks is a visit from son Grant. In addition to sharing our life here we spent a few days in Siem Reap which was a lovely respit from the harried pace, traffic and filth of Phnom Penh. Siem Reap is a lovely area, the central place from which you depart to visit the amazing temple ruins. I don't need to tell you that Ankor Wat is the primary attraction and its easy to see why its a World Heritage Site.
Ankor Wat has been restored to as close to the original as possible. It's huge and covers an area of 2 square miles. After all these years the carvings in the stone are incredible. This was built as a Hindu temple and thus reflects the politics and beliefs of the time. As the country became Buddhist some Budda's found their way in as well.
Even more interesting to us were some of the smaller temples. The ancient carvings in Banteay Srei were thought have been done by women because they're much more delicate than in Ankor Wat.
Not to bore you with the names of all of the temples, but you may be interested in checking out some of these. Another impressive fortified city was Ankor Thom and the Bayon temple. It's known for the 216 enigmatic smiling faces.
Ta Prohm was by far the most atmospheric of all of the ruins. We got there before the sun came up so got to see it in the early morning shadows. It has been reclaimed by the jungle and is being crushed by massive tree roots. Left unattended the jungle quickly takes over everything.
Beng Melea is a temple that has not been restored at all. It's been swallowed by time and the jungle and is an amazing example of what the condition of Ankor Wat and the other temples must have been like before restoration. It is remarkable that such immense structures were built so long ago without modern equitment. There was a kind of rickety cat walk to take you through the ruins. Amazing really. One reason nothing has been done to this temple is because it was/still is surrounded by land mines. Our guide told us that a few years ago he was frightened to take one step off the path but in recent years many hundreds of mines have been removed to the point that some peasants are returning to the area to resume their lives as subsistance farmers.
Not all was temple ruins. We got on dirt bikes and rode through rural villages and paddy fields. We came upon a herd of at least 100 water buffalo and stood within a few feet of them. They're used to plow the rice paddies so are accustomed to humans. We loved being out there in the field, just us and the water buffalo.
An absolute first for us and totally extraordinary experience was our visit to the floating villages. Al will continue telling about that part of our adventure.