Cambodian Christmas but no Cousins - Siem Reap, Cambodia
First things first. This is a long blog.
No but more importantly...
Lucy lost her little Mel. Who is Mel? Mel is the Koala Bear from Australia who lived with Lucy for over 4 years. She decided to jump off our tuk tuk the day we were about to leave Phnom Penh. Leaving her faithful companion, Lucy Der, in tears for the rest of the week. Not being (yet again) extremely dramatic. It appeared that Mel wrote Lucy a departing letter in her journal telling her that she had to visit Australia to see her family. We will always miss you Mel. But, the good news is that our good friends in Regina found out that Mel had a cousin named MELON. (Good name Lucy!) Oops, i meant Melon's parents. He is patiently waiting in Regina until Lucy comes back! Mel has great relatives!
Luckily, as i mentioned before, Eli was to kind to buy her a blue ball of yarn with two eyes and a small smile. Lucy named that ball, Yarn. Because it was...well, yarn. Welcome to the family Yarn the Blue Ball of Yarn. We stayed at a really nice place called Silver Palms Residence for Christmas. Super nice staff and had modern Cambodian architecture. Like most places we visit, we just walk around and explore the city. Since it was so hot we swam alot around our hotel and took tuk tuks to town. Other days we walked, and i got a chance to drive an electric bike. Looks easy right?
I almost crashed into another person and kinda went too far for a sample ride.
So around Siem Reap, there are ruins of temples that were built between the 9th and the 13th century. The most famous one that you might of heard of (or not) is the Angkor Wat. A humongous temple built from stones and rocks and all that good organic geology. So in China, if there was a single tiny itty-bitty millimeter of an once of a speck of dust shaped stone that dated back to that age, they would have it boxed up with at least 20 security cameras pointing at it. However, in Cambodia...
We would walk on the large slabs of rock and the guards wouldn't even need to cast us a second glance. Well maybe a third glance if he noticed that Eli was laughing at some Buddha faces or if i was perhaps imitating a few? Doesn't matter because we didn't get kicked out of each of the 1000 temples! One of the best parts was our guide. Informative, super nice and patient to our inquisitive family, not to mention friendly and had a super hilarious and excellent sense of humor. Sounds like such a good advertisement but he's honestly the best guy ever. Oops, guide.
You might be wondering why we look so amazed with our hands on our chests. Listening to the Canadian National Anthem in Cambbodia? Nope. I had enough of that in my elementary days. This is better. So here in this special column where if you thump on your chest, it will echo back at you with the force of a deep bongo.
Day 1 - Temple No.1
We had 3 days to explore the temples and the first day we spent with Jet (the guide) he took us to three interesting temples. The first one we visited was during around 8am where the sun was still rising so it wasn't terribly hot. You know that movie called Tomb Raider? Well me neither, i first heard about it when apparently Angelina Jolie filmed that movie at that very temple. This particular temple amazing me NOT because of her presence back in '01 but because of the trees! Just look at these amazing branches that link now support the ancient structures. Like that's pretty amazing.
We visited this temple before noon and it started to get a little hot.
The other temple we visited was mainly a bunch of faces put together on one head. Jet kept on saying that we would go inside Uncle Tom to see this temple. So we were thinking that it was like another worshiped figure in the Buddha culture. It so happened that he was talking about Ankor Thom the last and most enduring capital city of the Khmer Empire. Built back in the day. Inside 'Uncle Tom' we visited a Buddhist temple decorated with like 200 faces of this one worshiped figure. Not Uncle Tom haha! Every face was all smiles and awaiting tourists' cameras!
Welcome to the very heart of Cambodia history. Angkor Wat the largest temple, one of the most complex and probably the most impressive. Surprisingly, it only took around 30 years to complete the whole thing. There is so much detail in the temple and even in every rock.
Sorry there isn't much to explain except for some SUPER COMPLICATED religious history about churning milk and a giant snake with gods and demons. I didn't get it.
But i just try to imagine how magnificent this temple would be in it's glory days.
I always get mixed messages from posters and web sites where they say that the Angkor Wat is one of the 7 World Wonders but apparently there was another list called the 7 New World Wonders where it was once nominated.
So how in the world did we come when this whole entire corridor looks empty?
Well what's the first thing that comes to mind when the time '12pm' comes out. Yes. Exactly, LUNCH. Unfortunately, we did not take the regular lunch break. Instead, we veered from the beaten path to food, and instead visited the temple. Oh well...
Coming out of the temple was more difficult because the pants that Myka and i wore, in the middle, tore around the crotch haha. Thanks to all the stairs in that day, we were walking around a religious temple with tears in our pants. It was hilarious. The tourists were streaming into the Angkor Wat when we were exiting and i say, 'great timing' we totally missed all the big groups. The heat was at it's peak at that time and i also say 'let's go home.'
Thanking Jet, we relaxed at home, before waking up the next day for more temple fun. I'll just show photos with few paragraphs. Just graphics ;)
Day 2 - Temple 1
Now as we reentered Siem Reap we realised something. Guess what that evening was?!
Christmas Eve! It came honestly too soon and it didn't really feel like it was actually the eve. We still walked around in shorts and short sleeves, swam in the pool all the time. Sweated through 17 shirts and lowered our air conditioner down to 16°.
Then suddenly, it was Christmas day! For presents, we mostly got candy and pencils from dad. No sticky sweet candy from him this year. But we got gum from him! Art and letters from Lucy and Eli 'forgot.' Our trip is the present. Classic response for my pleas for a iPhone. Here are some family photos.
The morning after Christmas we woke up early. Yes how unfortunate. At 4:00am.. Why? People say that the sunrise with the Angkor Wat in the background was worthy for the early wakening and pain. What we got fell a little short if it was to sacrifice 4 hours of sleep.
Ah too bad because the next morning we (yet) again had to rush out of the house to leave for THAILAND! But when i woke up, i was experiencing the most painful headache and guess how long did this last for? All travel day.. It hurt terribly.
How was Cambodia? Humbling and even though it's less regarded in the first world countries, i really enjoyed this smaller country with the hard history. People were so kind and nice and Christine in Phnom Pehn really made a great difference. Cambodia to me, was more enjoyable and authentic than Vietnam. But now moving on towards Thailand, i have mixed opinions on the developing country. Say tuned and hopefully i will stay tuned as well.
Sorry about the longer blog. BYE!