Cambodia is Real

Feb 02, 2006 Comments Off by
 
The past few days have been a blur. Trying to come off from the high of the jet lag has proven to be much more of a challenge in the heat & humidity of Southeast Asia. But slowly I am getting better at living normally. Wednesday (1-Feb) I spent the day wandering around Bangkok. I walked from the hotel and crossed the river and then by chance happened upon the Vimanmek Teak Mansion. It is claimed to be the largest teak mansion in the world. It is a beautiful 3-story golden building with huge, grand staircases with octagonal rooms & lattice covered walls. It was originally constructed in Ko Si Chang in 1868 but was moved to its present location in 1910 to become the first permanatn building on the Duisit Palace Grounds. It served as King Rama V's residence in the early 1900s. From here I ended up at the Ananda Samakhom Throne Hall which was constructed in the Italian Renaissance/neo-classical style of architecture. The exterior is decorated with marble brought in from Carrara, Italy. It is a 2-story building with approximately 49.5 meters by 112.5 meters by 49.5 meters in height and was constructed under the rule of King Chulalonghorn (Rama V). The construction took almost 8 years to complete, formally being completed in 1915. Beautiful. After spending some time wandering around I decided to duck out of the heat & humidity and into the shade & protection of the Duisit Zoo. Which in reality turned out to be more of a mistake. It is filled with many animals in very small enclosures. It was one of the most depressing zoos I have ever been to. Thursday (2-Feb) I flew from Bangkok, Thailand to Siem Reap, Cambodia onboard Bangkok Airways. It was a nice flight of about 50 minutes. The service was excellent, from the traditional sawatdee greeting to the superb meal that was served. The flight was aboard an Airbus 320-200 configured in a single class system (all economy). I had arranged for a vegetarian meal and it was excellent. Landing in Siem Reap was quite interesting. Though there were no views of the temples from what I could tell. Next came the waiting. In order to arrive in Cambodia you first must have a visa. Fortunately most nationals are granted a visa on arrival. Unfortuantely, almost everyone on board was eligible for the visa on entry program. So we all waiting in a 5 queue line system. First you give your $20, passport & application to one person, you have to the next line, and then the next and then the next and then finally they look up at you to make sure you are who you are in your passport and then stick the visa sticker in your passport and send you on to go through "immigration". Once you've done that, you get your exit stamp passed and you're on your way.

Cambodian Visa

The rest of the day was spent wandering around the "town" and just discovering what there is on offer. I ended up at the large market and bought a couple of books on Cambodian History -- "First They Killed My Father" and a book on Angkoran History. . . I also managed to find some old Cambodia money for purchase, as now they mostly use the US Dollar and a few riel notes... Today. I found myself wandering around the temples of Angkor ($60 for 1-week pass) with Sarah & Chris Foote from New Zealand. Neither words nor photos can really describe what you feel as you are seeing the temples of Angkor. They are all really impressive and the details intricate. The mother of all temples was first on the agenda -- Angkor Wat. Many bas reliefs around the inner and outer walls of the temple which depict creation scenes of the Khmer & Hindu religion. Many of which portray the gods Vishnu, Rama, Bhrama and many more; also depicting scenes of how the world changed & evolved. One could spend months here and never really see everything. My favorite temple has to be Ta Phrom. This complex of temples is being "reclaimed" by the jungle with many of the temples having great bayon tree's growing through them. Some of the structures are unstable because of this.  After Ta Phrom we had lunch, trying a traditional Khmer dish -- Amok -- which is basically fish or chicken in a coconut curry sauce, served in a coconut... It was Delicious!!! Well, that's all for now...

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"To see a World in a Grain of Sand And a Heaven in a Wild Flower, Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand And Eternity in an hour."          William Blake My world revolves around my travels. Beyond that, there is very little that exists.
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