I have been busy again.
I go out and have experiences and think about what I will write and then I come back and forget about it.
One day I went out early in the morning, the apartment has a white four seater Tuk Tuk which takes us down to the end of the soi as it is about a 20 min. Brisk walk from the apartment. This particular morning I shared the Tuk Tuk with a young Australian mother and her two children, a boy and girl about 5 and 7 in age. The journey was quite long due to heavy traffic on its way to work but it was made very interesting for me by the children’s endless questions about all the fascinating things we could see. You should know a Tuk Tuk is a 3 wheeled open air vehicle with just a roof as protection from the sun and rain.
We saw sewer entrances on the side of the pavements which appeared as dark rectangular holes going, who knows where? We saw a scrap man with his push bike specially adapted with an extension on the front that consists of a cart pushed instead of towed, filled with cardboard of all shapes and sizes. The fact that he stopped at the side of the traffic jammed soi and proceeded to urinate with his back to us was not lost on the children who stared in open curiosity. We saw a fountain spurting tinkling water in a garden belonging to a restaurant, we saw a ceramic pond on the sidewalk outside a foot massage shop. All this and more seen through the excited eyes of a young child, it made the journey go very quickly.
The last day we spent in Siem Reap we got up at 5am (yes, this is Tricia writing this!) and had Mr. Vong pick us up at 5:30 at the hotel and take us to Angkor Wat in order that we might witness the sunrise over the temple. It was a wonderful experience, shared by many others, but none the less, their was a definite atmosphere of awe as we all watched the sun come up over this magnificent building which has stood for centuries. I wonder how many others, have observed a similar event, down through the ages?
After the sunrise we went back to the hotel for breakfast and then went to a silk farm run by a cooperative which employs young underprivileged people and gives them a trade. They work for the cooperative for 6 months and then can go elsewhere. They do everything necessary for the silk to be produced, harvested woven sewn and sold. We saw lots of different kinds of Mulberry trees because that is what silk worms eat and as they have different kinds of worms, they need different trees. Once the worm forms a cocoon and has developed to a certain size it is harvested. At some point it is immersed in water and then the silk is spun rather like wool only the wheel and spindle are much smaller. Then it is either left its natural yellow colour or bleached and dyed. Sometimes it is tie dyed, this involves tying thread around a few threads before dying them it is a very fiddly business produces wonderful thread designs seen on silk when it is woven, the design is all through the work and not just on the surface. They also tie dye the finished fabric. We saw them weaving the threads into material by hand looms and best of all we went into the shop! I was even able to buy a wonderful bedspread which I am saving. It is kind of patchwork of different silk designs but all in the Colour blue.
After the silk farm and lunch, we went back to the temples for one last look around at Angkor Thom which means “Great City”. This temple complex was constructed by Jayavarman VII (1181-1219). It has the same cosmalogical layout as Angkor Wat: A moat symbolizes the oceans, the walls are the land and the towers represent the peaks of Mount Meru. Most of what is left were temples, although originally it is thought this city had a lot of administrative buildings which have not survived. The south entrance has a causeway lined on either side by gods and demons (Churning the cosmic sea of milk!). A lot of the heads have been removed by Angkor conservancy to prevent looting as in the past these heads have been removed and sold on the international antique market, by Govt. As well as individuals. New heads have been put in their place.
We then set off for the airport. Our visit to Angkor Wat was definitely interesting and full of spectacular sights. I would love to return to see all the other temples, now I have learned all about their history. I feel very priveleged to have seen at least some of the temples, it is fascinating to compare them to the Myan ruins in Mexico, especially Chichen Itza, also to Greece and the Parthenon. These I have seen too. I hope they continue to survive for future generations to enjoy and marvel at their construction.
This building looks a little out of place in a Khmer temple complex, no one knows what its function was, does it look Greek?