Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Doing the Khmer Trail

You come to Siem Reap to see the ruins of the Khmer dynasties of the middle ages.  Angkor Wat is the largest and best known of these but there are ruins scattered over a wide area in this the old capital.  The great kings of the Khmer reigned from the 10th through the 15th century, generally speaking what we refer to in Europe as the Middle Ages.  It is interesting to note that this was a period of great civilizations around the world.  The late Mayan period was in full bloom as were various groups in Mexico and the Andes.  There were great Muslim civilizations in Spain, Iraq, the Silk Road (Samarkand), and India.  Ming Dynasty China and the Cathedral building in Europe. I've read that this flowering of civilization related to a positive weather environment that led to greater food production and thus more people and prosperity.  Starting in the 17th century that changed and we had famines, plagues, wars and a general falling back in the welfare and sophistication of temankind in general.

Today we got up very early and met our driver and guide at 5 AM.  We drove in the dark to the entrance to the Angkor Wat complex.  This is peak tourist season here because the weather is very nice - high's in the low 90's and lows in the low 70's.  It will get much hotter in just a month.  There is a bit of a cluster f@&! when we buy the tickets.  We're getting three day passes and they cost $40 a head...and they only take cash!  In fact almost nobody takes credit cards here which is a bit weird considering the effort that has been put into making this a tourist friendly region.  Not only we but all kinds of others are swearing and scrounging around to find enough cash for the entrance fees.  It is odd also that nothing in anything you read about Siem Reap makes mention of the need for cash.

We drive to the Angkor Wat complex.  There must be thousands of people here for the sunrise.  It's pretty nice but would be better without those thousand new, close friends.  After the sunrise, we stop for breakfast. #2 and I get Cambodian noodle soup while 2B and Wife get pancakes.  I think we came out way ahead.  We then spend the morning visiting three of the temple ruins built over a 500 year period.  The pictures I post later will give full justice to what we've been seeing.

After going through four temples interspersed with long drives on bumpy roads, we decided to take the afternoon off.   Wife and I spent some time by the pool and then had a 'traditional Khmer' massage before we went to dinner.

On the foodie front much interesting eating has been taking place.  SIL 2B has been in overdrive researching and finding interesting Cambodian eats.  This will require a separate post in its own right.


The Count said...

Love these entries! Need some pics! You are in a pretty place! Enjoy!

alexis said...

how did pregnant Pu handle the travel, she holding up ok? Sounds like a fantastic visit, from your reporting sounds like you handled all the business very amiably.

terri said...

Guess they wouldn't call them travel adventures if they weren't riddled with challenges. Glad you managed to handle things well enough to go forward with the day's plans.