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The Kirwan Twins Adventures We've finally graduated, so we're setting off for three months to backpack around India, Cambodia, Vietnam and Thailand before entering the "real world."

Angkor WHAT?

CAMBODIA | Thursday, 26 April 2007 | Views [763]

Our first stop in Cambodia was Siem Riep, home to Angkor Wat, an ancient city of temples vying for a spot as one of the new seven wonders of the world. Thanks to the eager staff at the Dead Fish, we found a wonderful tuk-tuk driver named Merci, who lent us a Camboda Lonely Planet and became our guide for the next few days. After many sleepless nights in planes, trains, and automobiles, we decided to have a reasonable start on our first day touring Angkor Wat after a yummy breakfast of yoghurt (no - not watery Indian curd, but real, creamy yoghurt!) and meusli.

We red up on our history and headed to the temples, all of which were built from the 10th-12th centuries by various kings, each of whom was trying to outdo the other in greatness, size, and detail of the temples they built. Similar to Machu Pichu, historians are unsure of how those building the temple managed to transport the heavy stones, which are not indigenous to the region. Many of the temples have changed in religious significance throughout the years and now represent a variation of hinduism and buddhism. Unfortunately, many of the buddhist symbols were destroyed by various warring opponents over the years, and, worse, some temples were destroyed by the Khmer Rouge in an attempt to quell religion in the name of communism. Now, Angkor Wat is the pride of the Khmer (Cambodian) people, it's drawing is found everywhere from its flag to its domestic beer.

We wandered around about 5 or 6 temples throughout the day, all of which blended together in our minds. As the heat became unbearable, we took refuge with fruit shakes in little restaurants and did our best to resist buying things at the market stalls. We wandered through the stone temples, admiring the detail in many of the reliefs carved into the walls and read tid bits about the history of each place. Unfortunately, when you get four girls together, our minds tend to wander, and we seemed to spend a lot of time chatting about books and shoes as we walked through ancient ruins. :) We ended our long day at Pre Rup Temple to watch the sunset (which was actually nonexsistent). While enjoying the cool air, we met a cool English family, including the youngest backpackers we've met on our path! A mother and father, both of whom previously worked as management and sound engineer to Robbie Williams, had taken their daughters, aged 6 and 8, out of school for the year to travel around Southeast Asia as a family. Sounds like a pretty fantastic idea to me! The daughters entertained us with stories of all the letters they had sent home to their friends as well as tales of ziplining through the jungle in Laos.

The next morning, we ambitiously headed back to Angkor Wat to watch the sunrise at the Angkor Temple, which is the basis for the logo seen all over the country. Despite wanting to curl up on the stone floor for a nap, the sunset was spectacular as the sky turned shades of pink and orange behind this magnificent structure. After exploring the vast grounds and climbing up treacherously steep stairs to the temple's highest point, we escaped the hoards of people to visit some smaller temples. Around 9am, we could barely keep our eyes open (I know, we're such whimps!), so we headed back for a serious nap.

We spent the afternoon wandering around Siem Riep, a very developed little town, before rewarding ourselves with a massage at "Seeing Hands," which is an establishment that employs and trains blind people. Groggy but relaxed after an hour of bone-cracking bliss, we freshened up and headed out for a dinner of Amok, Cambodia's national dish that is essentially a cocunut fish curry with veggies and mouth-watering spices. Fortunately, we evaded any meals with prahoc, a fermented fish paste that is used everywhere in the country and precedes any meal with a pungent smell that is sure to put you off your food.

Happily falling in love with Southeast Asia...


Tags: Culture

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