Sunday, July 08, 2007

Siem Reap Recap

Hi everyone! I hope all is well with you. Kristin has been working very hard and I haven't had time to work on the computer until now. Don't tell Kristin...but I've been having so much fun that I haven't really wanted to work on the computer anyway.

I promised you I would send a note about my final days in Siem Reap. Kristin spent most of the day working at her conference and it rained a TON, so I spent a lot of time watching TV in Kristin's room.

On one of our final days in Siem Reap, Kristin told me to get ready for a special dinner. I thought we were going somewhere special to eat, but we just went to the hotel's restaurant. Kristin must have seen the look on my face, so she explained that the dinner was going to include some special dancing. I wasn't so sure I wanted to see people dancing, but since it was raining outside, I decided to stay and see the special dancing.

Don't tell Kristin, but the dancing ended up being kind of cool. Dancers in brightly colored costumes performed on a stage in front of all of the guests. Kristin called the outfits "traditional" and she said each one of the four routines we saw represented a story in Khmer history. Here are a few photos from the dance performance.

The next day, the people attending Kristin's conference went on a tour of some of the Angkor temples. They visited Ta Prohm, Bayon, and Angkor Wat. I had already visited Ta Prohm and Bayon but I really liked them, so I was happy to see them again. Here is a picture of some of the people at Kristin's conference at the Ta Prohm temple.

Kristin told me Ta Prohm is her favorite temple at Angkor and I agree. The trees growing on the rocks of the temple are so cool! It started to thunder and lighting and rain just as we were leaving Ta Prohm. Oh no! I was worried we were going to get soaked. But, Kristin packed an umbrella just in case it rained. She is so smart!

It wasn't raining too hard when we stopped at Bayon. It was so hot the first time Kristin and I visited Bayon, that I didn't get to see very much. This time, Kristin took me to see more parts of the temple. We had to climb some very scary stairs to get to one of the levels of the temple.

Don't worry...Kristin made sure I was in a safe place in her purse before she climbed the stairs!

Once we got up the stairs, I started to notice there were other carvings in the rocks besides the big faces. And guess what? The carvings looked s lot like the dancers I saw the night before.

Kristin wasn't kidding when she said the dancers I saw were performing traditional dances. Bayon was built hundreds of years ago!!

Here are some of my favorite photos Kristin took on our second trip to Bayon.

Just before we left Bayon, our guide stopped to show us a wall near the base of the temple. It was totally covered with carvings of people, animals, and boats. The guide said the carvings told the story of what was happening in Cambodia when the temple was built. Who knew? It's like a story book, except the story is on the wall. This is my favorite part of the wall...because of the big elephant!

I saw some elephants on our way to Angkor Wat and it looked like people were riding on them! I asked Kristin if we could ride an elephant but she said we didn't have time. :(

It started to rain again as we were leaving Bayon. Kristin told me we were going to visit Angkor Wat next. I really wanted to see Angkor Wat because Kristin told me it is the most famous of the Angkor temples. But, I was afraid Kristin's group wouldn't go out in the rain. Kristin told me not to worry, she was going to make sure I saw some of Angkor Wat, even if it was raining really hard.

It was raining really hard when we got off the bus at Angkor Wat. It is a good think Aunt Lynn bought me a rain coat a few years ago, or I would have been soaked! It looks like lots of other people brought an umbrella like Kristin did.

Angkor Wat is surrounded by water. Kristin says the water is called a "moat" and the "moat" was originally built to keep bad people from attacking the temple. I had no idea! I thought we were going to have to take a boat to get across the water, but there is a large stone bridge that crosses the moat.

I couldn't really see a temple from the road, all I could see was the water and a tall stone wall on the other side of the water. Once we got to the other side of the bridge and walked through a stone hallway, I could see three of the five towers of Angkor Wat. The towers look pretty cool, don't you think?!

Here I am with Angkor behind me. It was raining so the picture didn't turn out perfect, but at least you know I was there!

Some of the walls around Angkor Wat are covered in carvings, kind of like the ones I saw at Bayon.

And guess what? I saw more dancers carved in the stone!

I noticed while we were looking at the stories on the walls that some people were climbing up the really steep stairs to the top of Angkor. I asked Kristin if they had permission to do that. She said yes. She also told me that she and Keith climbed to the top when they visited Angkor a few years ago. I told Kristin I wanted to climb all the way to the top, but she said no. It was raining and she was too afraid that we would slip and fall. :( She was right, but it still would have been cool to climb to the top!

Kristin did manage to climb one set of stairs so I could see another level of Angkor Wat. While we were there, I noticed some teenage boys wearing what looked like bright orange bathrobes. Kristin told me they were monks.

Kristin says many people in Cambodia believe in a religion called "Buddhism." She says people who are Buddhists don't go to a church like I do, instead they go to a temple or shrine. Kristin says the monks help take care of the statues of Buddha inside Angkor Wat. I had no idea!

We had to leave soon after Kristin took the photo above because the rain started to fall even harder and I saw lots of lighting bolts in the sky. Lots of other people decided to leave the temple when we did.

By the time we got back to the hotel, it was raining so hard that I couldn't see across the road. Plus, many of the roads were flooded. Kristin says it is a good thing we decided to leave Angkor Wat when we did, because it kept raining really, really hard until long after I fell asleep!

As we were walking through the hotel lobby, I noticed there were LOTS of little frogs standing near the lobby windows. They were making lots of noise! Kristin said they were probably trying to stay out of the rain.

That's my wrap-up of my trip to Siem Reap. I am really tired and Kristin needs her computer again. So I am going to head to bed. I will write more about my stay in Phnom Penh tomorrow.

Until next time....