Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Siem Reap

My faculty advisor for HNGR, Dr. Emily Langan came to do a check up visit this week. We went up to Sien Reap for 2 days to get away from Phnom Penh for a little while. Siem Reap is the home of the famous Angor wat temple ruin, along with hundreds of other temples and attractions. It was a trip full of stunning beauty and crazy adventures. 
You know it's going to be a good day when you see elephants. 

The temple ruins were full of stacks of huge, beautifully chiseled stones. I kept thinking that if my dad had been there, he would have made me try to slip one of the boulders into my purse to take back home for his global rock collection. So I at least got a picture of the beautiful stones for him. As we explored, I couldn't help but feel like I was stomping around on museum artifacts. 

The beautiful view of Angkor wat from Phnom Bakheng temple in Angkor at the top of a mountain Friday night. 

Dr. Langan and I at Phnom Bakheng

Waiting to see the sun set over Angkor. But they kicked us out soon after.

In front of Angkor wat

 Inside Angkor wat--the walls of the outer courtyard are covered in bask relief murals of various historical/ religious scenes that are incredibly detailed and extensive. It is kind of like a game of "Where's Waldo" or "I spy" to figure out the key characters and what is going on/

Dragon and rider in one of the historical battle scenes...reminded me of Tyler and his collection of dragon pictures from all over the world. So here's the Cambodian one for him. 

The original steps up to the top of the tallest/middle Angkor wat tower. So this is for Megan, who likes going for those dangerous jogs. Imagine these stair-climbs every morning! 

Angkor wat tower

This guy was coming right at me. No fear. Reminded me of Jordan. That's his wrestling pose. And he would have been just as happy wrestling with the monkeys as looking at the temples. 

Bayon Temple in Angkor Tom was full of repeated faces of the king who had commissioned the temple. Wherever you looked, you would suddenly realize he was peering out of the stone at you with that sly smile. So this is for Alanna, who I know would have been just as creeped out as I was by the faces all around staring me down, and we would have laughed at the egotistical king as we took off running from his evil grin. 
I couldn't stop her. She had to go for the kiss. Even in the rain. 

Baphuon temple was going to be restored around 1970, so it was taken apart piece by piece. Then the Khmer rouge happened and the restoration had to come to a halt, leaving the temple in hundreds of thousands of pieces for decades. When the country was at peace once again, the workers returned to the job, only to find that the Khmer rouge had destroyed their careful record of which stone went where. For Gerson, the game-lover in the family, imagine this, a 300,000 piece puzzle involving pieces that weigh a ton and are historically protected artifacts. It's slowly being pieced together by historians and archaeologists. 

Our dedicated tuk-tuk driver/ tour guide/ buddy Saveth. 

Some of the temples (like this isolated one in the middle of the jungle called Ta nei) were more ruin than temple. It was a lot of fun crawling around in these places, but seemed a little perilous at times. 

Ta Prohm is a temple that has been somehow taken over by several giant trees and their monstrous root structures. Nature seems to be taking back what man has made in an awesome, breathtaking way. 

These places were just magical. They reminded me of fantastic places like Minas Tirith or Car Paravel that I had pictured in my mind as my mom read me those stories as a child, so this one's for her. It was a fabulous trip with a wonderful professor.