Cambodia 15th April 2004
Another early start today, both to try and beat the worst of the heat, and also as today was the day we were going on our elephant ride. This was something that Liam had been looking forward to before we even left Melbourne.
We arrived at the Baphuon inside Angkor Tom by about 6:30 in the morning, and the place was fairly deserted. It was quite mystical to see the sun rising behind the trees and slowly warming up the temple stones.
The Baphuon was undergoing restoration works, so was closed off, however we could walk around the grounds and explore a bit before walking over to The Phimeanakas, seeing a huge centipede on the ground that must have been at least a foot long!.
The Phimeanakas was a smaller temple, but still quite tall and with extremely steep steps. We carefully climbed to the top, soaking in the views across the trees before gingerly climbing back down and heading off for the Ride on an Elephant to the Bayon.
We walked across the Elephant Terrace, discovering some ant-lions living in the dust between the path stones. I remember them when I lived in Sydney, but had never seen them before in Melbourne, so they were something new for Liam to experience, who had great fun setting off their little traps.
We were soon in the queue for the Elephant Ride, and after buying our ticket we were ushered up onto the platform and onto the back of the biggest elephant working today. It was a great experience, even though the elephant sometimes had a mind of it's own, diverting to grab some durians and coconuts that had been discarded along the path. At one stage he started rearing his head, but our 'driver' managed to get him back under control, and us safely to the departure point at the Bayon.
We made a quick stop at the Thommanon which we saw on the first day, as Oiyee had not seen this temple yet. We then continued onto the Eastern Mebon. it was only about 9:30 in the morning, but as usual, the temperature had soared, adn these temles were very much out in the open and subject to the full heat of the day.
Each corner of the temple was marked with a statue of an elephant, and the inner temple consisted of brick towers with intricately carved lintles over their doors, and again, the views across the countrside was spectacular.>
Pre Rup was in some ways similar to Eastern Mebon, with the tall brick towers with detailed doorways. Steep steps led up to the central towers, with views across the tops of the jungle trees.
Last temple for today was Banteay Kdei. The entrance was through a smaller version of the gates of Angkor Tom, and a small market was along the walkway, selling much needed drinks and coconuts, as well as silks and souvineers. Don't bother with the books, they'll have pages missing.
The temple was on a smaller scale than others, but very pretty with a colourful altar to Buddha just inside, and apsaras adourning the walls. The jungle trees were also thick around the temple, offering a little shade here and there.
On leaving, Liam picked up a band of followers, Liam being as much a novelty to the locals as we found the temples a novelty to us!
We stopped in at a number of the larger souvineer shops along the road back to Siem Reap, but couldn't find that perfect momento of Cambodia that I was looking for. These shops were also very expensive, geared more to the 5 star guests who normally come in the cooler months. Once again, Liam was the main attraction, with all of the staff flocking around him and giving him a huge ego!
We stopped at the Red Piano for lunch, and I had to try a Tomb Raider cocktail. It was OK, and the food was excellent.
We returned to the guest house to shower and freshen up, which of course was proven a waste of time once we got back out in the sun. We caught a Tuk Tuk ride with Savin into town to get a massage from the Blind Massage. The girls went first while Liam and I walked the streets exploring further, then us boys had our turn. Extremely painful, that Japanese Shiatsu massage, but we felt much better afterwards. Even Liam got the full treatment!
We had dinner at the Bayon Restaraunt, which had a huge smorgasboard of food to chose from, which was all excellent. My only regret was I couldn't eat more!
During the evening there was an excellent show of traditional dancing and music. The Apsara dancing is classical, and very graceful and enjoyable to watch. There was also some dancing showing catching fish, which was very amusing with the interplays between the boys and girls. The peacock dancing too was also very good.