Saturday, 17 September – Siem Reap/Angkor WatClick for all Photos from Saturday at Angkor Wat
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This morning we visited Angkor Wat, the largest Hindu temple in the world. It’s huge, which of course makes sense.
It was a very long walk from the bus to the buildings but the grounds are beautiful. There was a lot of climbing and many steps up and down.
Very interesting bas reliefs telling stories of Hindu gods.
It was built around 1000 years ago and certainly shows signs of wear. However, it has been constantly maintained, unlike many other temples and has never been over-run by forest. We visited only the first 2 levels, representing hell and earth.
The wait to climb the very steep “stairway to heaven” was about 45 minutes, in the heat and sun. Since we were all hot and tired we didn’t even consider it. There are now Buddhist monks in the temple and we all (except Larry) had a blessing from one of them. Larry video’d mine.
The monk was young and really hammed it up for cameras, between blessings. I’m now wearing a couple of braided string bracelets that I have to leave on until they fall off of their own accord, to ensure the health and prosperity he blessed me with.
Back at the hotel we happily fell into the pool and floated for quite awhile, easing off the tiredness and cooling down. Dy picked us up again mid-afternoon to visit a nearby killing field.
There are several hundred such sites around the country where the Khmer Rouge murdered tens of thousands of people and dumped their bodies into pits. Most of them have been found during construction projects and the bones and skulls gathered into small memorial structures. Families have never been able to find or identify the bodies of their missing loved ones, so these have become places of pilgrimage, much like cemeteries. Dy explained the politics and timelines of this tragic chapter in the country’s history. After we left, we stopped at a few very nice high-end shops. Most of us bought nothing, but it was fun looking at some of the beautiful silver jewellery and silk pieces.
After a rest we drove to a children’s hospital for the Saturday concert. A Swiss physician founded it 26 years ago and has been the driving force behind it. There are now 5 children’s hospitals that offer maternity services and free medical care to children up to 14 years of age, a real boon in a country with no health coverage and family incomes around $1 a day. He insists that all tests, labs and treatments be to 1st world standards, even though children are often 2 to a bed. This amazing doctor is also a cellist, so on Saturday evenings he plays, talks, shows a movie on the history of the hospitals and asks for donations of blood and/or money. At the moment they’re fighting an epidemic of hemorrhagic dengue fever and he was clearly exhausted, but what a story he told us! We had a very late dinner at a French/Cambodian restaurant. Good local food and not expensive. Then back to the hotel and bed.
Click for all Photos from Saturday at Angkor Wat