Showing posts with label Cambodia. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Cambodia. Show all posts

Tuesday, November 21, 2023

Terrace of the Elephants and Terrace of the Leper King

Today, we used day 3 of our 3 day Angkor Wat flexi pass to visit some more temples in the greater Angkor area, with our first stop being the Terrace of the Elephants and the Terrace of the Leper King, located in the North East corner of Angkor Thom. The two Terraces cover a length of almost 400 metres, with detailed carvings along their length.

Built in the twelfth century, the detail on these carvings, like the rest of the temples around Siem Reap, is simply amazing. Most of these temples, gates and terraces were built first and then the murals were carved into them after the temple was constructed, so only the best were able to work on these as there was so very little margin for error.

Lori, Mikah and myself in front of one of the airvata, or three headed elephants, that can be found at many points along the Terrace of the Elephants. These airvata also feature in the gates of Angkor Thom and elsewhere in the former Angkor-era Khmer empire.

Just some of the length of the Terrace of the Elephants at Angkor Thom.

The central part of the Terrace of the Elephants leads back into the Royal Enclosure and was used as a stage for Angkor-era public ceremonies.

Large parts of the Terrace of the Elephants are shown as being held up by carvings of Garuda and Chimera with lion heads.

Another view of the centre "stage" part of the Terrace of the Elephants.

The Terrace of the Elephants eventually meets the Terrace of the Leper King, a large, intricately carved structure.

Both the outer wall and some of the inner walls here are carved in detail, leading some to speculate that the inner wall started to collapse and so a new wall was built in front of it. Another theory is that the Terrace of the Leper King was also home to the Royal Crematorium.

The three headed elephant, Airvata, also features here in this carving on top of the Terrace of the Leper King.

The statue that gave this terrace its name, there is no definitive answer on who the statue represents, some suggest it is either King Jayavarman VII, who was not known to suffer from leprosy, or King Yasovarman I, who was referred to as the Leper King. Other theories suggest is is Dharmaraja, the Indian god of death, also known as Yama. This is a replica of the original statue, which is now in the National Museum in Phnom Penh and is about 200 - 300 years older than the terrace on which it was located.

Our awesome Angkor guide Kea Simon, a very knowledgeable man who has been a real asset here over our time at the temples of Angkor and Siem Reap, seen here at the Terrace of the Leper King. This was the last day we had Simon with us.

We had actually visited part of the Terrace of the Elephants a couple of days earlier, but when we walked across the centre stage out of the jungle in the Royal Enclosure, we were hot and tired after a long day of trekking and climbing and just wanted to get back to the hotel. This was probably a good thing, as we took a bit more time to explore the Terraces than we would have at the end of that day.

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Friday, November 17, 2023

Phare, the Cambodian Circus - Siem Reap

One of the many things Mel had found for us to do in Siem Reap (asides from visiting many, many temples) was a night at the Phare, the Cambodian Circus. Phare has a company in Battambang and in Siem Reap, and the Siem Reap company puts on nightly shows that attract quite a few visitors, even in what was a quiet time for tourists in Cambodia.

Spohorn dropped us off and picked us up when we went to Phare Circus, however it is only a short tuk tuk ride from town if you don't have a driver and there were a few waiting to pick up patrons when we were heading home.

Phare Circus' performances all tell a story, apparently there are a number of different stories depending on the night, keeping the show fresh for return visitors.

Phare is an acrobatic circus, no animals involved here, just an awesome show.

There is some serious skill involved in putting this show together, we were all in awe of the talent on display at Phare, the Cambodian Circus.

The story this night involved a young girl, removed from her family at birth during the Khmer Rouge era, returning to her village, where two men fought for her affection via feats of acrobatic endeavour.

Phare, the Cambodian Circus, hold a Guinness world record for the longest continuous circus performance, with a non-stop performance that lasted over 24 hours.

The show at Phare also includes a few feats of strength and will keep you riveted throughout the whole performance.

In the background here you can see three paintings that were painted by one of the performers during the course of the show and you have the opportunity after the show to purchase these if you wish.

As with many of the places we visited in Cambodia, Phare, the Cambodian Circus operates as a social enterprise, that is, they are run as a for-profit business that dedicates it's profits to a social cause. In the case of Phare Circus, the profits from their business operations go towards funding their non-profit school, Phare Ponleu Selpak, in Battambang. Phare Ponleu Selpak provides education for student from kindergarten age and has a performing arts program as well as regular schooling for students from Battambang and surrounding communities. Phare's Siem Reap Circus also has quite an extensive gift shop selling locally made goods which in turn supports a number of local artists and suppliers.

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Wednesday, November 15, 2023

Siem Reap Road Trip to Phnom Krom Area

After lunch, we hopped into Sophorns van for a little road trip. Sophorn took us out to a small village near Phnom Krom, on the outskirts of Siem Reap. We didn't want to go somewhere were there was just a constant flow of voyeuristic tourists crowding the locals, and this village appeared, at least, to be happy to see us arrive.

Driving past some road side stalls on the way out of town. While we didn't see rooftop solar systems on anywhere near the scale we see in Australia, it was quite common to see street vendors set up with a solar panel or two, presumably to charge phones and other small electrical devices.

The water level can rise dramatically here, so the houses are built up on stilts, lifting them a couple of metres off the ground and placing the entry at road level.

Many of the locals have little roadside restaurants on their front balconies, or next to their houses.

Another view of the same roadside restaurant as above.

This little store was selling snacks and drinks.

So much food on offer at these stalls, and a huge variety, I really do wish we'd tried some of it.

These were barbecued rats on skewers, caught fresh in the fields and cooked up for passers by.

I could never work out how, with so many together, these stall owners were able to make a living, but they lined the roads here. Mind you, there is a temple not far away, so maybe they get busy at certain times of the day.

The gate at the entry to Phnom Krom, the stalls here seemed to be quite busy when we visited.

A pond full of lotus, these flowers are farmed around Siem Reap and Phnom Krom and are in constant demand from businesses and also sold to be used as offerings at the many temples in Cambodia.

Street scene near Phnom Krom, on the outskirts of Siem Reap, Cambodia.

This house looked like it was available for sale, although it does need a fair bit of work.

Sophorn explained that due to the lotus farms here, this was an area Siem Reap locals would visit for special occasions, buying food from the stalls and heading out to picnic in some little huts with a view of the lotus ponds.

These smaller villages are a great place to visit and if we'd been staying longer, I reckon I would have taken a few more chances with the roadside food and bought a few things to try here. As it was, it would be another couple of days before I got my next roadside food fix here in Cambodia.

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Monday, November 13, 2023

Lunch at Crep' Italy

A lot of Siem Reap tourist culture centres around Pub Street. Right or wrong, this is often the first place tourists find in Siem Reap, and we were no exception. Like moths to a flame, we're drawn to the bright lights we've all heard about before we arrive. That's not all bad though, because there are some good restaurants around pub street, like Crep' Italy, located in a laneway behind Pub Street.

Crep' Italy was quiet when we arrived, so we parked ourselves in front of the bar.

Some of our entree's, spring rolls and croquettes.

The rest of the Griswalds, clowning around as usual.

I'm pretty sure this was Mel's Caesar salad and I'm kicking myself for not taking a photo of the bill to remind me.

This alleyway leads through to Pub Street was a little reminiscent of an Italian laneway, Vespas and all.

A few limoncellos to go with our dessert.

It's usually a safe bet to accume that Mikah's dessert is the one with ice cream.

Lori and I shared a creme brulee.

Crep' Italy has a mix of Italian and Cambodian food on offer along with quite an extensive wine list.

The view down the laneway from Crep' Italy.

We enjoyed our meal here at Crep' Italy. While we have a rule of not returning to any restaurants while we're abroad, like many places we ate in Cambodia, we could have happily eaten here again.

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Thursday, November 9, 2023

Taking a Break from Temples to Explore Siem Reap

After two straight days exploring the ancient secrets of the Angkor region, we decided to have a day off from exploring temples. Following our breakfast at the hotel, we headed out to check out The Little Red Fox Espresso in Siem Reap, then a little drive around town before we ended up at the Old Market for a spot of shopping.

The Old Market is down by the river in the middle of Siem Reap, and after shopping we grabbed some coconut waffles from one of the food carts that line the side of the road between the market and the river. These food carts are everywhere over here, and while we've been pretty cautious so far, there's a huge variety of food on offer from them. The whole time we were in Cambodia, I was advocating for more food cart food in our lives, while some of the other Griswalds were urging caution.

The Little Red Fox Espresso Cafe is a little cafe in Mondul 1 Village in Siem Reap.

Lori was particularly excited, as no matter how good the hotel coffee is, it just can't compare to getting to a dedicated cafe and getting some real espresso.

As with many places we visited, The Little Red Fox bills itself as a social enterprise, employing and training locals with a view to empowering them to take their skills further if they desire.

Mel decided on an iced coffee.

My Long Mac hit the mark.

Some of the decor at The Little Red Fox Espresso Cafe.

As with many markets in Cambodia, the Old Market in Siem Reap has a wide variety of goods for sale, from sausages and dried meat, seafood, fruit and vegetables to clothing and souvenirs.

Some more of the dried and preserved food available at Siem Reap's Old Market.

Part of the fruit and veg section of the Siem Reap Old Market.

Shopping for t-shirts and Krama (traditional Khmer scarves) at Siem Reaps Old Market.

Artworks for sale by local artists at Siem Reaps Old Market.

Waffles being cooked at a food cart outside Siem Reaps Old Market.

Siem Reap is a great town to explore and I hope we get another opportunity to spend some time here.

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