Siem Reap - Day 3 - Angkor Wat

Siem Reap Travel Blog

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I was so excited that today I would be able to view the major reason for visiting Siem Reap - to see Angkor Wat.  My driver and tour guide arrived to pick me up at 8am and we were off to Angkor Wat.  We wandered around the various walkways and looked at all the beautiful apsara carvings and the bas reliefs.  The tour guide was explaining to me the various stories about the history behind several of the bas reliefs and there is so much history to absorb - I don't know how people can remember it all.  I must admit, I don't know how much info I retained, but  hopefully this will come back to me when I re-read my books/guides on Angkor Wat.  I really couldn't believe that I was only disappointment was that the third level of the temple was not open to be able to traipse up all those steep stairs - it was unfortunately closed for renovation.
  The photos speak for themselves and I went a bit overboard with taking photos, but you know how it want to make sure you capture every picture in case.

From the inside of the temple, I could see the tethered balloon in the distance that is one of the tourist attractions.  So I decided that I would like to see what that would be like.  I spent most of the morning at Angkor Wat until we left just before lunch and then I went on the balloon ride.  This cost $15USD and whilst it wasn't a real balloon of the type you probably think it is.  It's on a tethered rope so you don't really travel that far.  It gives you a birds eye view of Angkor Wat but unless you have a good SLR camera with a fairly strong zoom lens, the opportunity for an aerial photo is good, but not fantastic.
  But I'm glad I did it as I had never been in any balloon before.

After having lunch at Pub Street at Soup Dragon and chatting with a few of the local tuk tuk drivers, we went off to a local government school that was run by volunteers.  This highlighted to me how different the public schools were.  In this particular school there was a big building which would have housed about 100 kids in the one room, split into probably three different teaching areas.  I saw all these bicycles the kids were riding and couldn't believe that most of them were riding ridiculously disprorportionate bicycles compared to their size.  A tiny girl who looked about five years old would be riding this bike that I don't even think I would try riding.
  The kids were all sitting at shared long school "desks" which were really long and very old and shaky looking communcal tables.  This was a far cry from the facilities that I saw the previous day at the privately funded school.

Following this, we visited a few more temples in the afternoon.  Amongst them Preah Khan, Ta Som and Eastern Mebon.  I know that each one had it's own significance, but I did find that I was beginning to mix up all the history of the kings who commissioned the buildings of all these temples.  But I did notice (after the guide had pointed out to me) that a number of the temples which were Buddhist temples had a number of the original Buddha statues with the heads removed.  The guide told me when the Hindu temples became commissioned, all other temples dedicated to Buddha had to have the statues with heads removed.
  A number of the original statues are now in teh national museum which I visited on the first day.  After seeing the rest of these temples and wandering around in the heat, I was pretty much templed out for the day. 

I returned back to the hotel late in the afternoon in time for a quick shower and quick nanna nap before I was going to head out to the local hospital for a cello concert which is held every Saturday by one of the local doctors in the area.  I texted my tuk tuk driver I had met the previous night and just like magic, he was waiting outside my hotel along with a number of other drivers.  We negotiated a price and he took me to the other side of town to the hospital.  We chatted along the way and he said that he would wait for me to take me back to Pub Street after the concert.
Stairs are much steeper than they appear
  I asked him questions about his job and whether he runs the tuk tuk business full time etc and learned a bit about how he lives day to day.   It's a sobering thought, but like most of the other Khmers who I had met, whilst he recognises his economic situation is less far from perfect, he is happy being near his family and has a very positive outlook on life.  He also said that he enjoys his job for the sheer fact of meeting so many friendly tourists from overseas and the chance to practice his English, so that was kinda nice to hear.

The cello concert was performed by Dr Beat Richner, the leading doctor at the children's hospital.  He names the concert Beatocello.  It is held primarily for tourists so that they can raise donations of funds and blood for the children's hospital which is not government run.
  There would have been around 150 people at the performance and it was also informative as well as entertaining.  Dr Richner speaks about the challenges faced by the hospital and the local children, which is quite sad given the statistics, but also makes you realise that doctors like Dr Richner can make such a difference but need help to continue their work.  There are CDs, DVDs, postcards, posters etc on sale to raise money.  So it was quite a good way to spend the evening - learning more about the country and its people and also being entertaining at the same time.

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Stairs are much steeper than they …
Stairs are much steeper than they…
View of Angkor Wat from the tether…
View of Angkor Wat from the tethe…
Siem Reap
photo by: genetravelling