We began the day with visits to Angkor Thom, Bayon, and Ta Prohm. Angkor Thom means the great city in Khmer, and is certainly a vast area, complete with many temples and carvings. Bayon is the centerpiece of Angkor Thom - it’s classic carved faces are standouts. Jayavarman VII, known as J7, built this mysterious and magical place in the late 12th century as a Buddhist temple over a previous Hindu site. The Bayon style shows itself in the large scale of the construction, in the use of laterite, and in the face-towers at each of the four entrances to the city. In the 19th century, the French attempted to restore the temple, but war and the loss of the plans prevented this. Efforts are underway to put it back together.
We enjoyed this temple more than Angkor Wat - maybe because it was smaller and there were more carvings.
Ta Prohm was our next stop, also known as the Jungle Temple and built in the late 12th and 13th centuries. Ta Prohm is quite unique. Unlike other temples that have been excavated and restored since being rediscovered in the 19th century, much of it has been left as it’d been found. Massive trees, with tentacle like roots have grown like magic, uprooting the stones of the temple. You can imagine Indiana Jones running through the obstacles throughout the remains of the temple. Actually, parts of Laura Croft were filmed there.
Afterwards, we asked to be dropped off at Pub Street, and ate lunch at a local restaurant, Khmer Kitchen. Amok chicken for Julie and basil chili fish for Ted. Then some time shopping in the market. Ted was on the hunt for a shirt he’d seen a fellow traveller wearing. He found it and was pleased his bargaining skills are still sharp. Now all the guys on our trip want this shirt!
A quick visit on our return by Julie to stores selling silk and silver, while Ted cooled off in the pool. The weather has been sunny and in the low 90’s.
Before dinner we watched a private Aspara show, a traditional dance of Cambodia that dates back to the 7th century that blends both Hindu and Buddhist mythologies. The young people performing train in the dances for 5-8 years. The costumes were colorful and the dancers energetic.
We ate dinner as a group at Sokhak Restaurant, a lovely, contemporary setting with quite tasty food. The mango sticky rice for dessert was delicious.