Sunday, October 13, 2013

3 Days in Cambodia - Part Two

After a morning of temple roaming, we stopped for a quick lunch at a local restaurant - a cinder block, open-air place, filled with tourists like us and all their guides and drivers waiting outside.  I wondered where they had their lunch, but didn't really want to find out... I was a little nervous about the food, as we know we can't "drink the water" here.  But all was well.  Wok-fried noodles and rice with chicken and vegetables are pretty safe everywhere.

 We drive along flooded rice fields and saw the simple local dwellings...

I had read about a very early temple nick-named "Citadel of Women" and asked our guide to take us there.  It turned out to be the best of the bunch, art-wise.  The nickname stems from the intricate and delicate carvings and the pink color of the stone that makes Banteay Srei so beautiful. Historians believe it must have been designed by women.

After entering through a small doorway (gate) we crossed a stone bridge lined with "linga."  Early Hinduism used this symbol for Shiva - it is really a phallic symbol but the guide called it a lotus blossom (!).  

The first amazing lintel - these carvings were done in the 900's... un-restored and open to the elements! Also note the intricate columns, both square and hexagonal along the sides.  The many doorways and window openings are still completely square.  ???

One of the few inscriptions 

Just feast your eyes:

A short video to put you in the place:

Old and restored monkey statues guard the complex:

A look from the back side of the complex, and a bit of the moat that is left.

Local children taking advantage of the swollen pond...I don't want to know what is under that water!

We had been seranaded by local music as we walked, and this is where it came from.  Several of the temples had these traditional bands, made up of victims of land mines that still litter the countryside:

On our way back to Siem Reap, we passed so many flooded areas and so many interesting sites...I couldn't catch any photos in focus, so I just pointed the camera out the van window to record the sites.  You can see the houses, the cattle, water buffalo, bicycles, kids swimming, people bathing, everything...

Back in town, we decided to attend a buffet dinner with traditional music and dance show.  I love gamelan music.  The dancers were perfect and held amazing yoga-like poses with those flexible fingers... 

What a day of contrasts...

I have a few more things to share about our trip, but I am going to put them on the next post.  I hope you will continue the journey with us!

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